Florida  |  Family Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 12/20/11, 9:43 pm

We're in FL, paying $100 per week in child support that is NOT court ordered. My 14 year old stepson is not happy living with his mother. You would think that it's because he is a teen, but it's not. He has communicated to us about what goes on at his house for a long time; we have also noticed morally wrong doings towards him. He is supposed to be homeschooled, but it is typically not done for weeks, sometimes months at a time. When asked why, he states, "because my Mom makes me help her around the house and take care of my little brother (3 years old)." FL doesn't require much from homeschoolers, as long as he is showing some improvement (no matter how little) and records are reported as required by state law. He also appears to be malnurished and tired and sounds very depressed (which has been noticed by others, but so many children are going unfed right now in FL that I don't think that her strictly limiting his food intake would be considered neglect in court). He gets fussed at if he asks for more food at his house and isn't aloud to say much about his feelings. He was mostly kept very sheltered in his home environment until this past year when he started talking to his mother about moving in with us. At that point, his mother started allowing him to have friends (for a little while), buying him a few clothes, getting him involved in basketball at his grandma's church, and letting him try out for soccer. He apparently is back to not being able to do much because he sounds very sad again and says he wants to live with us. I think that his mom is NOT a monster, but somewhat selfishly blind to what she is doing to him. His mother and stepdad are set to move to TX in May. My husband has been so hesitant over the years about trying to get custody because he believes FL courts usually take the mother's side. We've heard and read so many horror stories, such as: the courts saying that all non-court ordered child support that was already paid will be considerred a "gift" and back child support will be owed; because his dad/my husband has paid the same amount for so long, the courts will say that he should have adjusted it to a higher amount a long time ago, resulting in owed back child support; the courts won't consider our two younger children that live with us in a child support calculation (causing all three children to suffer instead); most importantly, that the mother will still get to keep him, even though he wants to live with us. We just want the best for my stepson. I just wish that I could adopt him. I am afraid of what will happen when they move to TX, especially without any legal documentation for a time-sharing schedule? What advice do you have for us, so that all three of our children will have the best situation?

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