I would like a little legal advice as well as anecdotal evidence from others who might have faced a similar situation.
My fiancee lost custody of her only son after her husband of 10 years divorced her. I have read the divorce settlement and the judge’s comments, so I know she is telling me the truth about the circumstances.
[ul][li]She is a resident alien w/ Green Card, but not a U.S. citizen.[/li][li]She was a housewife and has never been in the U.S. workforce.[/li][li]She was very naive about the U.S. legal system.[/li][li]Her son, who is 8, is the most important thing in her life. She misses him every day, as I suspect only a mother could really understand. She cries a lot and wants more than anything in this world to be able to raise him and be a motherly presence in his daily life.[/ul][/li]
Here are circumstances of the divorce:
[ul][li]Her husband filed in another state (military home of record), and did not tell her in time for her to begin to be prepared.[/li][li]He didn’t give her any money to find a good lawyer.[/li][li]He falsified a domestic violence charge against her (said she slapped him). She was handcuffed and taken to jail, in front of her son, and had to stay in jail over the weekend. The judgement against her was set aside after a 3-month probation.[/li][li]He even admitted to the divorce judge that he had done these things in order to get her deported. The judge tore him a new one (it’s in the record), but did very little to counteract the husband’s stated goals.[/ul][/li]
My fiancee was under the impression (helped by her lousy lawyer) that the only way she could stay in this country and at least be able to see her son during summer visitation was to agree to the settlement.
The husband got custody; he got the house; he does not pay any alimony.
My fiancee is glad to be rid of her ex: he was having an affair, and was not a kind man to her at all. He seems to have the mentality and self-centered attitudes of a spoiled 10-year-old. In fact, after he got custody, he didn’t even keep his son, but shipped him off to his parents.
My questions are:
[ul][li]How difficult will it be to convince a judge to award (us, after we get married) custody?[/li][li]Do the odds change with the age of the child?[/li][li]Will the fact that she can’t have more children (hysterectomy) help her/our case?[/li][li]How much in legal bills should we prepare ouselves for?[/li]What can we do to increase our chances?[/ul]