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Need answer to modifying custody question

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We want to know if this situation would be a "substantial change in circumstances" in order to modify custody.

Daughters 13 and 14 live with fiance's ex (she has physical custody). Son, now 18, lives with fiance (he has physical custody). Together, they have joint legal. Physical custody was split and agreed upon during mediation (no custody battle, although parties agreed to live close to each other and work together for the kid's sake). A few years after divorce, ex moves north 2 hours, making court-ordered weekday night visitation next to impossible (including with her son). My fiance protested, but at the time didn't know he could go to court to try and prevent the move. Ex moved and got onto another county's welfare rolls and moved in with boyfriend. Visitation went to every other weekend, or every time ex could get a ride to gas station meeting point (3/4 of the way up for us to drive, 1/4 for her), she doesn't have a driver's license. We also started taking the girls for most of the summer and most holidays and school breaks because they wanted to and she didn't seem to mind either, although the relationship between fiance and ex has detoriorated badly.

Oldest daughter started having problems in school a couple of years ago. Problems have continued to the present time, where she is now failing ALL classes (she's in 8th grade). The girls have also started asking us and their mother if they can come to live with Dad, me and their brother. She refuses to speak to us or them about it.

She is still on assistance, is babysitting part time to minimally fulfill work requirements, but still getting a full grant. She has repeatedly stated that she does not want to work, which may be part of the reason she's very resistant to either of the girls moving in with Dad.

Dad wants his daughters to be with him, of course, and he would like his oldest daughter to come down and repeat the grade in a fresh environment. He doesn't feel Mom is doing what she needs to do to support the girls in school or financially, and he finds it difficult to be much of the factor that he feels he needs to be in their everyday lives when she moved 2 hours away.

Sorry so long, this situation is complex and we wanted to know if he has a case. Because of our financial situation, there is a chance we'd have to do this pro se, but we feel doing something is better than doing nothing and just letting her fail.

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