Unemployed Mother Keep Custody

by April from Orlando, Florida, Orange Coutny

I have been married to my husband for 14 years and separated for one year due to my husband having an affair with a long time co-worker, whom he immediately moved in with after we separated.


I used to be the bread winner of the family until our second child was born 7 years ago when I sacrificed my career to become a stay at home mother for our two children.

I have been trying to find a job for the past year and it has proved much harder than I ever imagined it would. In the meantime, my husband barely pays me any child support and is fighting me tooth and nail in the courts.

I can no longer afford to keep paying mortgage payments with barely any money coming in while money is going out for legal fees etc... and my savings have dried up. I told my husband the other day that I have decided to move in with my mother 20 miles away because I can't afford the mortgage payments anymore.

He doesn't want me to move into my mom's because it's a little farther away from him and when he comes to pick up the kids 3 weekends a month, and he doesn't want to have to see my mom. He could wait in the car for them and doesn't have to come in but he doesn't want to listen to that.

Because he is upset I am moving in with my mom, he threatened that he's going to get full custody of our kids and that he'll win because I am unemployed. I am terrified of this because my kids are EVERYTHING to me...I have been raising them around the clock their whole lives and they're great straight A student kids who are very happy and well taken care of.

It makes me sick that I could lose my 50/50 custody with my children because I am unemployed and that he and his mistress would have full custody. I have desperately been trying to find a job... it is tough as is, but even tougher trying to figure out who would take care of them once I do find a job... something I was hoping living with my mother would help with. What can I do about this? How can I prevent my husband from getting full custody? Thank you for any help.

Answer to Florida Child Custody Question

Dear April,

I think what you mean is that you are afraid that you may lose Primary Residential status and not custody. First of all, just because you are currently unemployed does not mean you will lose custody of your children.

If the two of you cannot come to an agreement as to where the children will reside, also known as the primary residence, the courts will decide for you using the best interests standard.

Have a look at Florida Statutes § 61.13(3) where you will find a long list of factors that the courts will use to determine what is in the best interests of the children when deciding custody and parenting issues.

Nowhere does it say in the statute that being unemployed is a factor. From what you've written, it sounds to me that your children are in a stable situation with you even if you were to move in to your mother's house. As a matter of fact, several of the best interest factors listed apply favorably to you, including...

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

It also sounds to me like you are being very reasonable with your husband's desire to visit the children, and you are demonstrating sound judgment by seeking good solutions to your current financial situation. I'm sure a court will look at these things favorably. Other factors the court will consider is stability for the children and moral character of the parents.

My suggestion to you is to familiarize yourself with the best interests factors in determining child custody and visitation in the statutes and keep being the great mom that you most certainly are showing that you are. Don't give up trying to find a job either, eventually you will find one.

Notice: We provide these answers to the general public and our website visitors as a means to further their online legal research. These answers are merely suggestions and should not be regarded as legal advice.

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Comments for Unemployed Mother Keep Custody

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Single Mother Child Custody
by: Anonymous from Miami, Florida, Miami-Dade County

I lived in Virginia and met my son's father. I got pregnant very soon after we met. We were never married. I decided to move back to Miami towards the beginning of 2006 and my son's father agreed. My son's father was incarcerated in mid year of 2006 in Maryland and my son was born a month and a half later in Miami. His father was recently released from Maryland and picked up for other charges in Virginia, he will not be released for another 3 years.

He also has an immigration detainee, and will most likely be deported to Canada (he has several aggravated charges/felonies). I have not received any support from my son's father or his family in almost 3 years. I have taken care of my son, by myself, for these past three years. My son's father and I do get along, but we do not speak or communicate very often. I want to have sole custody of my son. I believe my son's father will cooperate.

What forms do I need to submit in order for me to get sole custody of my son? Considering the circumstances, what chances do I have of getting sole custody of my son, whether or not his father cooperates?

--It sounds to me that you already have sole custody. My suggestion is to pursue him for child support so that you can better provide for your son. The courts have a bias toward joint parental custody because as a matter of public policy the belief is that children are better off if they have relationships with both parents. I'm not sure what you seek to gain by seeking sole custody. --Staff

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