Biological parents win custody by default

            Posted on July 17, 2016 

Biological parents win custody by default

Q.  I met a guy I’ll call Joe. We lived together for a few years. He was abusive, pushing me until I thought I was going to die. After he pleaded out to assault and battery, he had to move out and I thanked God. A year later he showed up on my door with his then 4-year old son on his back.

The mother was a druggie. Joe got custody and he was looking for a place to stay. And I let them in. It didn’t take long for me to become the primary parent, with Joe coming and going as if I had a revolving front door. Sometimes he was gone for three to six month, once for a year. Along the way, I obtained guardianship over the child.

Now Joe wants to move with the child to Oregon. He’s trying to knock me out as guardian. What can I do so my heart won’t break?

A.  In Massachusetts and throughout the United States, the presumption is that the biological parent wins unless you can prove he or she is unfit.

If you can’t prove Joe is violent toward the child or violent in the child’s presence, or violent to lots of other women, you have a hard case to win. The United States only guarantees that a child be cared for by someone who is just above a very low level, meaning if things get just a little worse the Department of Children and Families will swoop in and remove the child for safety reasons.

Use honey, not vinegar. Focus on getting Joe to let you have visitation time. That’ll be good for you and the child. I guess that after a few years Joe’ll bring or send the child back because Joe’s got other things to do than take care of a teenager.

It sounds like you did your job. Children grow up fast and often chose custody with their feet. So instead of spending your money on lawyers, use it to pay for your travel costs to see the child on his birthday, holidays, etc. Send presents. Use Skype. Have the child come here once a year.

As for Joe, he’s like a guy who only eats bagels. All he’ll have left in his pocket is a hole.