I am assisting a friend in Milwaukee Wisconsin to file for divorce. He has been married for twelve years - when he married his wife she had two children a five year old son and a six month old daughter. My friend has raised these children, their biological fathers are not in the picture and they refer to my friend as dad, but he never legally adopted them. About seven months ago his wife began disappearing for days at a time, this turned into weeks and than almost a month. When she disappears no one knows how to reach her not even her parents. She will come home every now and than for a night than leave again. When she does come home she is usually drunk (she is an alcoholic) and starts fights with my friend and the seventeen year old son. She has also been buying and abusing prescription drugs. Her kids want to stay with my friend (their father) and he wants custody of them in the divorce. The question is how does he go about doing this? Would he complete divorce with minor children forms or divorce without minor children forms and than something else regarding custody? He can't afford an attorney which is why he is attempting to do this on his own.
1 Answer from Attorneys
Third party custody is no simple matter. First, it requires that both parents be served with the action if the father is adjudicated - whether he is involved in their lives or not. Second, a showing of endangerment would be required since biological parents are presumptively fit to care for their children. Your friend will need experienced legal counsel.