– from Kelly U. in Germantown, WI

Question Details:

I am a mother of two. I was granted custody by the court during my divorce two years ago. My ex-husband says he wants to take me back to court because I am currently living with another man with no intentions to remarry. I also do not teach my children religious views, I don't allow them to attend church, and I am a part-time dancer. He says that because of my lifestyle choices, I am an unfit mother. Can he challenge me for custody based on my lifestyle choices?

Family Law Attorney Response:

The courts may look at this information, and evaluate how it may impact your children. From the information you have provided, you are doing nothing illegal. Your ex-husbands views simply conflict with yours. Based on that, your occupation is not outside the law, your religious views are irrelevant, and the decisions you have made fall between your parental rights, and personal rights.

In the case of Gould v. Gould, 116 Wis. 2d 493, 342 N.W.2d 426 (1984), the husband also motioned for a change of custody. The court agreed that the father presented a more traditional family setting, and he was awarded custody of the children. This, however, was overturned by the supreme court. This decision was based on the fact that the children's current living conditions should not be generally matched to a set of “better” living conditions. As such, it must be demonstrated that the child's current living conditions to be unfit, unto itself.

My advice is to speak to an experienced family law attorney right away. Legal representation provides a better scenario than self representation, especially when it comes to matter's pertaining to the specifics of family law.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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