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Change in Custody



I am a 1st grade teacher. I have a little girl in my class who has divorced parents. Both parents are good parents and I think have good intentions, but the little girl has not been in the best home environment. She had been living full-time with her mother and gradmother. The mother is concerned about her daughter. But the mother works full-time, and then has to take care of her own mother. The grandmother is on oxygen and requires a lot of medical attention. The mother hired a full-time live in aide. From what I have learned about the situation is that this little girl's home is more like a hospital with all of her grandmother's medical equipment. The mother admits that she has no time in the evening to spend with her daughter because she is too busy taking care of her mother. In my opinion it would be best to send the grandmother to a nursing home so that this mom can be a mother and take care of her child. But the mom does not want to do this.
Dad and Stepmom have jumped into the situation. They saw how the little girl was living, and convinced Mom to do joint custody. One week with Dad and Stepmom and one week with Mom. But its too much going back and forth for this child. I have noticed that the weeks that the little girl is with her dad she is a lot happier and more adjusted. When she's at Mom's she's in daycare after school, whereas with Dad her stepmom picks her up right when school gets out. The little girl also has a 3 year old half-sister at her dad's. At her dad's she's allowed to be a child and have friends over and does fun things with her dad and stepmom. At Mom's all she does it watch tv. The little girl has told me that at Mom's she can watch tv all night long, but at Dad's she isn't allowed.
Even though Dad and Stepmom have joint custody, they are thinking about going for full custody. They are planning on filing for joint custody after the holidays are over. I've met with both Mom and Dad and Stepmom. I'm not trying to take sides and I keep my opinions to myself. The dad and stepmom just want me to be aware of what is going on in this child's life. The dad has told me that he thinks if he has full custody of his daughter she'll have a more stable life than living with her mother and grandmother. I have to agree, but I don't say anything. I just really feel for this child.


Senior Member
I have one too

One of my students is often back and forth between his parents. I'm not sure of all the details. I don't ask, and they don't tell, unless it concerns me directly. I just have to remind myself of what he's going through and try to keep him on track at school. What gets rough is when he leaves stuff at his dad's and then goes back to his mom's before coming to school.


Full Member
I have that too

I have had several ove r the years do this. I have one this year that is very similar to what you describe. Please be careful and try to stay out of it. I was almost called to court to testify but lucky for me they didn't use me. I was going to just not take sides but would to have to state facts about missing homework with one parent, daycare vs. going home, child being upset at certain times. Be sure to document.


Senior Member
flip-flop kids

Joint custody is always toughest on the kids who have to cart stuff around. I had one kid who would bring 2 backpacks to school on "switch " days. He was one of the lucky ones as both parentswere able to give him the love ,support and attention he needed.


Senior Member
Been there, done that

as the child and as the parent. I know it seems chaotic to an outsider, and to some extent, switching back and forth really is chaotic, but it's a situation that can get better with time if both sets of parents work together. The thing to keep in mind is that there is no good way to share custody with a child, and if the little girl does go to live with just her dad, the long-term effects of that could be even more detrimental to her - things you wouldn't see, but her middle school teachers would. Kids really do best when they can have both parents in the picture as much as possible. It is unfortunate that the mom has to take care of the grandma, but that is part of the circle of life, right? Painful, but that is reality and isn't it better for the little girl to see her mom lovingly caring for her grandma than to shove her out the door to a nursing home because it is more convenient? Sometimes life is hard and we can't always shelter our kids from that, nor should we.



I know you mean well, but please try to not involve yourself in the custody situation. You do not want to find yourself dragged into court to testify. You only know these parents from your school perspective and have no idea of the history of any of this drama.

Yes, right now things are very difficult at Mom's home. Mom is dealing with Grandmom/Mother and child while trying to work to support them. She is doing the best she can and obviously realizes that it is difficult for the child as she has agreed to change the custody agreement .
The Mom has made daycare arrangements for child and she has care for the grandmother also. The mom seems to be doing the very best she can in a very difficult situation.

What this child does get to see at Mom's is the caring relationship between a daughter and a mom. She gets to see her grandmother and spend time with her, even if it is just time watching tv together.

The mom is working and has made day care arrangements. She is sending the child to a place where she can be a kid until Mom gets home. She is not sending the child home to stay with the grandmother and her aide. Yes, the stepmom picks her up right after school. However stepmom is not working.

As I read this I felt so badly for the Mom. She is caught between a rock and a hard place and there is no way to make everyone happy. She seems to be doing the very best she can under the circumstances.
Maybe I sympathize with her because of my past. When my husband was ill I spend my nights at the hospital with him and in some ways, even though I made arrangements for them, my children were neglected as they certainly did not have my attention the way they usually did. When my mom was ill we (children and I) spent our evenings with her and her care seemed to rule our lives. However, I firmly believe that the time we spent with her has changed my children's lives for the better.


Keep out of it!

I'm really glad you are keeping out of this situation. Simply put, life isn't fair. Consider this little girl lucky that she has parents that care about her. I have a lot of students whose parents could care less about them. She sounds like she has more than a lot of kids have. Also, just because step mom can pick her up after school doesn't mean that's better than being with her real mom, even if she has to go to daycare for a while. I have a mother who is disabled and needs 24 hour care. Her sister provides her care, but it still offends me to hear someone say that this grandmother should be put in a nursing home. Nursing homes are not fun places to live. My mother had to be in one temporarily, and she became very depressed. Perhaps this little girl can learn about love and compassion from her mother? Do you really think that she should lose custodial rights because she is caring for a sick mother? This mother is obviously thinking about her child in agreeing to joint custody, but she has a right to have her child in her life too. I'm fortunate that I can have someone else in my family care for my mom so that I can care for my own kids. However, if it came to pass that I would need to care for my mom, I would definitely do it. Even if my kids didn't get as much attention as they should have. I'm married, but my husband is gone most of the time for work. If I was in this sitation, what should happen to my kids? Should the state take them? I don't mean to sound rude in this post. I guess it has really upset me.