Ok...so I go to court next week for a custody hearing. I have been divorced for 7 years but for the first time we are actually going to court and both want full custody. I am very concerned about what the judge will think of my schedule and 24 hour shifts. Any suggestions? Anyone else succeed at their custody case? Any comments would be greatly appreciated!!!!!

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Depends on the mind set of your judge. What does your kids want? Do they want to live with you are him? How well you and your ex get along? Have you tried joint custody.
We had joint custody for 5 years but not through the courts...then he remarried. My oldest will be 13 in January and wants to live with me because he wants to go to the school there and also wants to join the explorers program in January. My 9 yo is pretty much indifferent to it all at this point.
This can turn out to be a long drawn out battle, so be prepared. I have been through this with my Ex, and I proudly have custody and placement of my son. There is a differance between having joint custody and having placement. Having joint custody is another way of saying, you and your former significant other have equal rights in the decision making process for your child. Having placement means it is your childs primary residence. When you both have joint custody, it will be the parent whom has placement whom gets the child support, and medical support. As for you working 24 hour shifts, if you have proper coverage to make sure of your childs safety, the courts will applaud you working. (of course the judge could be a little off from someone before your case who pissed in his cheerio's) The court systems are looking for parents whom are drug free, have education, (as in completed high school) and can provide a safe, clean and non abusive atmosphere for the child in question.
However, your ex won't pull out the stops to make the court see you as unfit. (its the nature of the game, if he want's placement, he has to find a damn good reason why you shouldn't have him) Who to this point has had placement? How much visitation has your ex exercised? How often? How much has he supported your child? These are all important facts that can be revealed to the court to establish the charector. (for example, if your ex visited 3 times in 2 months, never paid support than you can show the court that they didn't really help out in the upbringing of your child.) Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Occasionally both parents are great. When this happens, the court should see through all the hoopla and say what have you folks been doing for the past ____ years? They will more than likely not uproot the child from his roots with you. Its the enviroment they know and have grown accustomed to.
My final bit of advice I need you to not only consider, but to truely use. Don't go into the courtroom angry. As mad as you get, try not to show it. You blowing up over a crazy decision will only be put into court record and will make it difficult to obtain an appeal if the cards don't fall correctly.
Talk to your attorney. (you better have one for this) I am surprised your attorney hasn't gotten the two of you together to try and make this matter become settled to the point where it could be read before the court and signed by the judge. You both would be better off financially, and emotionally if you could solve this before it met the light of a courthouse.

I hope this helps. Keep the faith, and good luck. If you need anymore imput, please don't hesistate to contact me, I will try to help you the best I can.
I petitioned the court almost 2 years ago for custody. We had 50/50 up until March of 2005. At that point my ex went to YMCA and picked the kids up on my day and changed the schedule. I allowed it for the remainder of the school year to try and prove the point that the joint custody was not what was causing my oldest son to do not so well on his grades. After the school year he refused to go back to a joint custody schedule. He had a temporary order that they stay in school where they are and that everything remain status quo. Unfortunately he lied about what was status quo. He told the courts I only had them on Friday and Saturday night but I also had them on Sunday nights. (Luckily I have an email to prove that one!) Well, for the first 8 months of this year I had the kids on my 4 days off...then school started and his attorney basically threatened to have me arrested if I took the kids any other days than what the temp order states. So for the last 2 months I have had them only on weekends...which is upsetting to my children because they know I am not working some week days and they don't understand why they can't be with me. We tried mediation and the only thing he would offer is "better communication" He offered that because he knows he is very bad about keeping me updated on school info. My argument is going to be that I will be able to be more involved in schooling (I found lots of great info on that!) and that my son wants to join the FD but can't do that while living with his dad because we live in 2 different counties. I am just not sure what other info I can use in my favor. He is married and makes lots of money but I need to offset that with how I can help the kids. I am not sure what other positive things I can use to my advantage...any suggestions?
I have no experience in these matters, but my heart goes out to those who are involved in these issues.
I know that when my wife and I got married and decided to have a child, it was made very clear that, from that point forward, all decisions, good or bad would be made with the best interests of the child in mind.
Now, I know we have to save a little for ourselves too; I am not that naive, but I think back to when I was growing up in my large family, Mom and Dad would be struggling and would tell us "the only reason your father and I stay together is because of you kids". Well, isn't that nice?
But I realized early on that the best decision for all just might be to divorce or whatever. And that is how I have always looked at it. We have been married for 31 years, our son is 30, married with a one year old son-yeah; I'm a very proud papa-and all appear to be well adjusted.
So, though I wish you nothing but the best, the only advice I can give you is in the form of a question:
In times like these, what would Tommy Gavin do?
LOL My parents just celebrated their 47th anniversary last month...and they are still totally in love. Not that I never heard my dad say "girls, leave the room" That always meant dad was about to defend our request Woo Hoo Go Dad! lol I guess the hardest thing about it all is wondering is this going to be the best thing for the kids. Of course I think it is or I wouldn't be going to court but when you have two parents that are both good people and parents then how is that decision made? He has money and a wife. I have time to devote to their education. Which is better? I just pray a lot that the judge makes the right decision...no matter what it is!
My heart goes out to you. I was involved with a custody battle for my step son. It is not an easy thing. Somewhere inside you know that someone is going to get hurt no matter what, and that sucks. It seems to me that most court systems tend to keep things the way they have gone the longest unless it is proven without a doubt that it is bad for the child. The best siituations I have seen are where the parents are able to agree that they want what's best for the child and are able to work together to make that happen. Unfortunately, this is a very rare occasion. I can't give you much advice as I have seen several cases, and it does seem to depend largely on the judge. I can tell you that you should be prepared to have every mistake you have ever made pulled out in court. You have to keep your calm. And focus every statement on the well being of your children. Good luck! Keep your chin up!
I don't think he will bring up too many past mistakes....he is to afraid of me telling the judge how he quit smoking pot when I filed for custody. His dad knows that he smoked but his mom has no idea!! I do have the report cards to back me up on how my son does in school when I am involved vs when his dad has him all week. I also have a lot of documentation showing how homework was not completed and a wonderful example of a book report from last month that my ex said the rough draft was done and he needed to do the final draft on it. The report was so bad that I could not even figure out what my son was trying to say. That is not a rough draft to me. I am really hoping the school issues and my being available will be enough...along with the fact that my son wants to be with me. And that is not because of his dad. He just knows that I am there for him. He calls me everyday after school to talk about how his day went. His dad does not know that he calls me daily. I am not going into court and saying that it is a bad situation. I am just going to tell him how I think mine would be a much better situation. Kids grow up and things change. We tried mediation...he wasn't willing to mediate. What other topics were brought up in your case that I can use in my favor? I don't want to go in their bashing the ex. He made a lousy husband but he is a good dad. I just want to show that being with mom is better for the boys at this point in their life.
We had all kinds of issues. The mother was seen several times at parties doing meth, and her boyfriend had a record as tall as I am and when they were brought up in court, The judge asked her if she did drugs or if the boyfriend was in the childs life. She lied and said no and the judge threw it out even though we had signed statements and a copy of the record. You just can never tell what way the judges will go. We were shocked that this type of stuff would be overlooked. The other real shocker for me was when the judge jumped on me for telling my stepson it was ok for him to say hello to us during the times he was at his mother's house if we saw him in town. She said I was teaching him to disobey his mother because she clearly didnt want him to say hello to us when he was at her house. We had to deal with income issues ,and school issues, and health issues, you name it. In the end it was a long drawn out battle and we ended up with split custody. We had him for a week, and then she had him for a week. It was difficult on all of us, but we did the best we could. Unfortunately it wasnt until my husband got ill that she finally stepped down and quit making our life a living hell. Those last days worked like it should have the entire time, and it's sad when it has to come to our own mortality before we realise what is really important in life. I truly do wish you the best of luck, and I hope that no matter what happens you will try to keep your kids out of the messy part of it all. Remember they are what is most important and helping to make their life better in whatever the situation is going to make their life so much more pleasant and fruitful.
Standard practice for the men on my dept. and in my own situation with my first wife 16 years ago is to first make sure the judge knows you want custody...then show that you are of good character and will be a good parent (which I'm sure you are)then show the judge your sked and if/when he rules for joint custody with you being the primary (which in most states you have the advantage on this being the mom...and I mean no disrespect just stating the uasual outcome) suggest that the father gets the kids on nights when you'll be 24 at the firehouse and you have the kids the rest of the time playing up how with this arrangement they kids will never have to spend the night without a parent in the home, and ofcourse agree to splitting of holidays, vacations, etc.
It has been standard practice in MO. and in STL area that the men who are ff have gotten the kids on their "4 day off " which (in stl we do a on duty 24/ off duty 24/ on24/off24/on 24 /then 4 24 hour days off in a row then start the rotation all over again) works well because then the father can have the kids alot in one chunck. For the gals (lol)(whose ex is not a firefighter) the standard has been the father gets the kids when she is on duty at the firehouse and the mother gets the kids when she is off which works out well for both because now both parents get alot of regular time with the kids and alot of time to parent. The kids do well because they get both mom and dad...but some get tired of living out of a suitcase by the time they are teens and want to work out something else (lord knows my oldest tired of living out of a suitcase...lucky for me he put up with it to spend time with me)
Have your attorney look at this model and play up your wanting to be both a good mom and a good role model to your kids by being a ff.
I had them on my 4 days off. He thinks that it is not healthy for the children because it is not a 'Regular' schedule. He thinks it is better for them to only see me when I have a weekend off. It really boils down to what is convenient for him. He is a nice guy...just a but selfish and lacking in common sense. We don't live in the same county and really the way things have been going...one of us needs physical custody. He does a lot on the weekends and always wants them..to me it makes more sense if he has them on the weekends instead. That and he complains cause he said I get to be the 'disney' mom by not having to deal with school things. I want to deal with them! I really don't want to leave my job...I think it is more of an asset than a detriment as far as the kids go. It gives me more time with them while they are actually awake lol
and they don't live out of a suitcase...I never wanted them to think they were visiting. They have their own rooms and clothes etc. They come with the clothes on their back and that is it. My other alternative it to get a job on a 24/72 instead..will give me about 2 more days a month with them.

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