What to do if my mom is very upset and wants to file for custody of my son because she says I am an unfit mother?

I moved out of my house with my 8 week old son and into an apartment with a roomate. I work a full-time job, provide insurance, he’s well fed and has everything he needs. I am a good mom. I moved because the conditions were horrible and the emotional abuse was bad. She wants to go for custody of him, make me go under a psych evalaluation and an evaluation of my relationship with my fiance. she wants it so that I have to have the lease in my own name before I can have him. Can she do this? What should I do to protect my son and myself?

Asked on September 8, 2012 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that parents have the right to raise their children how they see fit, with some reasonable exceptions, of course.  Your mom seems like a problem waiting to happen--you can be proactive with some parts of the problem, while other parts will just have to be a "wait and see" process.

The first thing you can do is just keep being a good mother.  Do the usual mom things.  Keep baby fed, clean, and healthy.  Take pictures to document how he has grown.  Keep "mom" notes in a little memory book about key things ... like first step, first "momma", first tooth.  Even though recorded in a memory book, it will serve two functions.  The first is that it demonstrates a mom's love-- which you obviously have.  It also documents that your child is proceeding forward at an appropriate rate and that you cared to notice.  Essentially, if your a good mom and can prove it (i.e. healthy baby and healthy history), then there should be no basis for the court or anyone else to interfere with the custody of your child.

Second thing you need to do before you forget is to document living conditions with her.  Make notes on how the residence was and how she treated you.  If you have specific examples of how her residence or way of being were a danger to herself, others, or your child, then you will be in a better position to argue that she should get no contact or limited contact.

Third thing you do is to restrict contact with your mother.  I know this sounds harsh... but if she is like you describe, she seems to be the type that would take an innocent statement or event out of context and blow it out of proportion to her advantage.  For example, if you call her just to have a sounding board about how colicky the baby has been lately and you "just don't know how much longer you can last...", mom could twist the venting as a suggestion of suicide and get the court to issue an order to have you temporarily committed so that she can get custody.  Desperate people tend to do really desperate things.  You cannot change how she is.... so to avoid this risk, at least for now, limit or eliminate contact with mom.  If you do call her-- just ask how she's doing and then tell her you have to go... don't talk about the baby because all you're doing is giving her fodder for a suit.

She may end up filing a suit anyhow... but give her as little evidence to use against you as possible.  When you can, try to stash funds (little by little) into a savings account so that if she does file for custody, you can have the funds to hire your own attorney and counter-sue her. 


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