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Im in desperate need of advice- Change of Domicile/Custody

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What is the name of your state? michigan

Ok, the forum says to be brief and to the point but its rather hard to do so when there's so many factors. This will be very long but I am very very desperate and if there's any advice you can give I would really appreciate it

Background - I have 2 children, 1 of which by my ex husband to whom I was married for 3 years. We divorced in early 2002, our child is currently 5 years old, the other child is not his.

Our marriage was ended when I made him leave our home due to his control issues and his lack of responsibility, figured I was better off on my own, however... at the time I had no job, no money, and when he left he took EVERYTHING... except for the kids.

He filed for divorce and I was mislead by his attorney and the judgement was made without notice. There were many errors in the judgement, the biggest was one which claimed him to be the custodial and non-custodial parent.

In January of 2003 I was finally able to get the error fixed so that I could collect support. Unfortunatly, he still refused to pay, nor did he request visitation time with our son.

Prior to this the only time he would interact with his son was when he was coming to my home to try to obtain sex in exchange for much needed support. This happened very often until September of 2002 when I became evicted from our apartment and moved in with my mother. After moving in with my mother he would 'occasionally' visit and the harassment would continue but not as bad.

He had never requested 'visitation' time with our son, nor would he help take care of him while I worked. He refused to help in any way. Child support was supposed to be payed a total of $85.00 a week, but once the Friend of the Court would find out where he was working and begin taking money.. he would quit, or get fired... find another job and not report where he was working.

In February of 2003 he met a woman on the internet and began to request 'visitation time' with our son. He began taking our son for the weekend occasionally, but not regularly. I never denied him the opportunity to take our son when requested, as in our divorce judgement there were outlines for visitation which entitled him to 1 evening per week and every other weekend.

Shortly after he moved in with his girlfriend and began taking our son every other weekend. I still recieved no support and I was struggling as a single mom of two children, even though I was living with my mother I still had debts from our marriage that I was stuck with, vehicle expenses (insurance/gas/maintenance), daycare, etc. I could not get financial aid (food stamps or F.I.P) because I was living with my mother, but at the same time, my mother is widowed and struggling herself.

In May of 2003 my mother informed me that after the school year ended (in June) my children and I would have to move out. Basically, if living in a shelter was the only way to get help, it was what needed to be done.

It was an awful situation for me to be in and it seemed there was no light at the end of the tunnel. However, in hearing the situation, my boyfriend, who I had known for nearly 2 years invited my children and I to stay with him. He lives in Alabama, in a 2 bedroom apartment, alone. He works offshore for an oil drilling company and is a very responsible person. I had never dreamed of moving out of state, away from my mother and brothers, but given the situation it seemed like a very wonderful opportunity for us.

My boyfriend and I had met online and had a very close relationship despite the distance between us. He offered us the opportunity to stay with him, help find a job, etc.

When I presented this idea to my ex husband he was completely irate that I would possibly want to take our son out of state and 'away from him'.. though that was not the intent.

Being that our divorce judgement stated that I could not remove our son from the state without either his consent or approval of the court... I filed a motion for hearing for change of domicile.

Our motion was heard in June, but a hearing was not scheduled until August 1. Having no where to go, but a shelter, I decided to head to Alabama, find a job, and get situated so that when we went to court it would be no contest when determining what was in the best interest of the child.

During the month and a half that I was in Alabama, I was going to leave our son with my ex husband, but he refused to take him unless I agreed to sign over custody. So instead he stayed with my aunt, while continuing regular visitation with his father.

Two weeks prior to the court date, my ex husband made a child support payment for $1,800.

On August 1, I returned to Michigan for the hearing, with no representation. I felt that I had educated myself enough to know what needed to be said. However, the process was unfamiliar to me and both of us were given a chance to testify (state our case) and cross examine the other. I went first. I stated the situation in Alabama as compared to Michigan as far as the opportunities that were available to us. I felt that I had included as much information as possible.

My ex husband stated his case, saying that he was concerned that his relationship with his son would be deteriorated, even though I had presented him with a very favorable visitation proposal which he was unwilling to negotiate. He stated that he never payed child support because 'it wasnt his fault that they didnt take the money'.

I really didnt know any questions to ask, and unlike him I didnt feel the need to ask questions that were unrelated to make him seem like a bad person.

The judge then stated that of the 4 factors that would determine whether or not change of domicile would be allowed that all were met except one. She stated that moving to Alabama and living with my boyfriend and depending on him was no different than living with my mother, therefor it was not an 'improvement' for the minor child.

When I then re-stated that living with my mother was not an option and that I was not depending on my boyfriend... I had obtained a full time job and was able to support myself... she claimed that information left out was irrelivant, and that she had already made her decision.

At this point of time I had no choice but to leave my son with his father and return to Alabama. Prior to leaving I hired an attorney and hearing my situation he stated that we could file another motion and declare a 'change of circumstance' for another hearing. He wanted $700.00 for a retainer fee, but at the time I only had $500.00, he agreed it was no problem to pay the rest when I was able, and that he was more than willing to work with me.

I came back to Alabama and continued working, unable to reach my attorney. When I was able to reach him he claimed that emails were lost due to spam filters and to resend. He doesnt answer voice mail, nor can I reach him without getting his voicemail.

At this time my ex husband would refuse to even let me talk to my son when I called him, though he had agreed that I could call daily to speak to him, and that my son could call me if he desired.

He stated at one point that I could not talk to my son as punishment for not allowing my ex mother in law time with our son, which floored me because his mother lived in Mississippi, and it had never been an issue.

Eventually I was able to reach his girlfriend, who allowed me to talk to my son. However, it bothered me that at this point she was having our son refer to her as 'mom', and she disciplines, cares for, and does everything for him that my ex husband, or I, should be doing.

My husband, if he ever answers, is rude and hostile. He's very hurtful and degrading and makes it very hard for me to speak to our son at all.

Earlier this month I made a trip back to Michigan, hoping to reach my lawyer and get some sort of process going to have another hearing.

When I got there I went to my son's school to have lunch with him, where I was notified by the principal that my ex husband's girlfriend had called warning them of my possible arrival, requesting that I not be allowed to see him. I then presented proof that I am the custodial parent... the principal then took me to visit my son. I spent a short period of time talking to his teacher and sitting in with his class while she gave them their lessons.




I had tried to contact my ex husband in regards to spending time with him while I was there, only to have his girlfriend tell me that I had to meet them for dinner if I wanted to spend time with him. Having traveled 1,200 miles to see my son I agreed.

At dinner she agreed to let me pick him up the following day after school to keep for the weekend.

I arrived at their home at the time she stated only to find they were not there, she arrived there shortly after explaining that they had gotten caught up with traffic. While there I expressed concern about his weezing and cough, asking why he hadnt been taken to the doctor and what medication he had been taking. She gave me a bottle of robotusin and stated that it hadnt been 'that bad' and so they didnt see a need to visit the doctor.

I took my son back to my mother's house where we were staying and noticed a very large rash on his stomach, scabbed, raw, red, and completely horrifying to me. I called his father and asked if he had noticed it and he got angry and stated that he had been putting cortisone on it. When I asked for his medical insurance information (he stated that he had medicaid) and his physician my ex husband became VERY irate and hung up on me.

I called back and he screamed and yelled stating that I was causing trouble and it was just a 'cold' and no reason to take him to the doctor.

I did not agree. I took my son to the med center and he was put on a breathing machine to loosen some of the congestion in his chest. It was also determined that the 'rash' on his stomach was an allergic reaction to the metal on his pants and his belt. He was given four prescriptions.

When I notified my husband of the prescriptions he refused to give me his medicaid information.

Sunday afternoon when my ex husband picked my son up from my mothers house, he refused to even talk to me about the prescriptions or what the doctor had said. I informed him which pharmacy his prescriptions were located, and being that he had insurance for him expected that he could pick them up.

I had met with my lawyer the day before, and he informed me that there was a hearing giving my ex husband full custody of our son. I was never notified. I still have no documentation, but as of right now he has full custody and Im completely helpless. My attorney says there's nothing i can do but wait until the Friend of the Court evaluates the situation, but they're not. And I have given him all the extra money I have.

I had to leave to come home the evening my ex husband picked up my son, as Im in management and time off is hard to come by.

Since then I still cannot reach my lawyer, I feel that my son is not in the living situation that is in his best interest. Me and my other son are miserable without him, and it kills me to not be able to be a part of his life at all because of his father's hostility.

I dont know what to do. I have expenses like anyone else does. I have given my attorney $550.00 total right now, and I came down here with NOTHING. I do not have extra money, Im living with my boyfriend, but I still pay for food, utilities, gas, car insurance, long distance phone charges, etc. I cannot afford ANOTHER lawyer.

Im so angry that my lawyer wont respond or help me, Im angry that there was a hearing and NO ONE TOLD ME.

The situation is getting worse and worse, and the longer my son is living with his father the harder its going to be for me to convince the courts that he's better off with me.

What can I do?

The It

You have a very touching story and I really feel for you. The best advice I can give you is to look into free legal aid from both your current county in AL and where your divorce was in MI. If you were not officially served with court documents about the custody modification, you may be able to have the order nullified and the action heard at a leter date. I don't know for sure.

I wish you all the luck in the world.

The It

Also, request a copy of the custody modification motion and order from where you were divorced and ask the clerk about the service requirements. This may shed some light as to what happened and how.

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