Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. I encourage you to ask me for clarification, if you are not clear with my Answer.
Question: I know a couple that is currently married for the sake of their children only. The wife had a very bad addiction to alcohol and it ruined their marriage.
The husband was going to result in divorce because of his wife's drinking problem because at times she was putting her children in harms way. As time passed, her drinking was getting worse. According to the husband the wife drank while pregnant with their last child. There have been times where the wife had their baby in bed and the baby would fall out of bed because the mother was intoxicated.
As time passed, the mother stopped drinking, pretty much went cold turkey and the divorce never went through. Months have passed and the wife seems to be doing better by not drinking. Please keep in mind the wife stopped drinking in Mid January of this year. My questions are:
If the husband wanted a divorce at this point in time, who would the children be awarded custody to?
Response: It depends. In a custody case, the Court would make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the children by looking at the living arrangement of the parties to the custody dispute, their lifestyles, associations, parenting skills, education opportunities for the children, etc. If the Court finds after reviewing these factors that the children would be better off living with the father only, the Court would rule award sole and physical custody to the father with visitation rights to the mother. Otherwise, physical custody may be awarded to the mother, joint legal custody to both mother and father with visitation rights to the father. Joint legal custody means that both parents would have a say on their children's upbringing, the schools that they go to, their doctor's appointments, etc. Physical custody means where the children live. So, it is very important that father tell the Court any and all reasons why the mother should not be allowed to have custody of the children; any witnesses should be brought to the Court to testify. The father should also tell the Court why he should be awarded sole physical and legal custody of the children. Remember that the Court can only make decision based on the evidence presented to the Court.
Do kids automatically live with their mother in divorce cases?
Response 2: No, see my previous response.
Does the husband have a strong case where the children can live with him instead of their mother because of her past drinking addiction?
Response 3: Yes, he does.
I know very little about the law, but from what I do know, it is my understanding that the husband would have to prove to the courts that she is an unfit mother in order for the children to live with him instead of her. And if that being the case, the mother would obviously have visitation rights and be awarded time with her children.
Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Thank you
Response 4: See my first response.