Can my son get custody of his children if my former daughter-in-law has gone to Las Vegas for “work” and made arrangements for them to stay with my son?

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Can my son get custody of his children if my former daughter-in-law has gone to Las Vegas for “work” and made arrangements for them to stay with my son?

As of today they have missed 8 days of school and will miss another tomorrow. There’s no way to take them to school as it is 4 hours away. She finally sent a text yesterday to tell them she loves them but we have no clue when she will be back. Is there a way my son could use this to get custody of the kids? Unfortunately he doesn’t have the funds for a lawyer.The divorce took place in the stae in which my son still resides and she is a resident of another.

Asked on October 29, 2012 under Family Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Whenever a parent just leaves a child without really being responsible about when they will return, if at all, then yes, that can be used against them in a motion to modify custody.  The fact that they are missing school also adds to the concern that she is not looking out for their rearing. 

Your son needs to file a motion to modify in the same court where the divorce decree that established the custody arrangement was filed.  Considering that it looks like she has abandoned them, he may have an additional basis for temporary orders.  He would need to have a family law attorney help him... especially with service issues considering that her exact whereabouts are unknown.  He does have a couple of options to this end.  The first is to talk to attorneys about payment options.  More offer payment plans now.  He can also look for legal services or legal clinics in his county that either offer free or reduced rate legal services.  The clerks of the court and churches often have lists of these programs.  Another option is to have an attorney draft the motions for him, and then he try to finish the filing and hearing on his own.  He should look at each option and see which fits his budget and comfort level. 

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the divorce happened in the state where you son resides then most likely there is a custody order concerning the children. Given the fact that your son wants an order of full custody as to his children but cannot afford an attorney, I suggest that he do the following:

1. contact the local legal aid clinic in your community for help;

2. contact your county bar association to see if it sponsors a program to help those in your son's position;

3. contact the nearest law school to see if it sponsors a clinic to assist those that need legal help but have limited funds.


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