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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 110473
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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Veteran single mom in Maine recently diagnosed as bipolar

Customer Question

Veteran single mom in Maine recently diagnosed as bipolar who's active duty USAF in Washington ex husband is threatening to take full custody of son. Current custody is 50/50 unofficial and son is with father in Washington. Divorce was completed in 2010 in Lincoln county WA. I am not sure what my rights are or where to start. Son would normally come back to live with me in June after school ends but his father is saying that will not happen.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Until there is a court order, unofficial custody is really difficult to enforce. You of course have the right to fight for custody or shared custody through the court, but if the bipolar disorder is an issue and interferes with parenting, the court is not likely to grant shared custody and only would grant visitation. However, if the bipolar disorder is not severe enough to interfere with caring for the child then you have a basis to file suit in court, but you would need to actually hire an attorney in WA since that is where the child is residing.
You have rights to fight for your shared custody, but it has to be in WA and you have to prove the bipolar disorder would not interfere with you caring for the child.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Last year I was inpatient for 2 months. I have since been free of symptoms and am medicated. I have never neglected my son not have I put him in harms way. I worked full-time sometimes more to provide for him. Would I be able to get someone to represent me in Washington? If I can, are you saying that it would be likely I would lose custody due to my time as an inpatient? I have been my sons primary caregiver more than his Father. Will none of that matter in the end? I was always bipolar before and now I am actually diagnosed and medicated. If anything I am more capable now than I ever was before. Are there any services to assist with the paperwork? That is one of the few things I still have a hard time with despite the medication. Everything is just so overwhelming and I really don't know who to contact or how to get help.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If you are able to care for your child and the bipolar disorder does not interfere, then you can get an attorney in WA, but you would likely need to pay an attorney to do so as there is little free legal assistance up there, especially for a non-resident. So, you would have to get yourself a local attorney in the area of WA where they reside and you can do so at the same sites used by other attorneys, or and you can negotiate fees with them.
Just because you were in patient a year ago is not enough to cause you to lose the child now. You would need current medical reports to show everything now is okay.

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