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confusedstepmom

Custody and Abandonment Laws in Alabama

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My husband and his wife divorced about six years ago. In the custody agreement his ex-wife was granted primary custody and my husband was given secondary custody. My husband and I have been together for four years, and the last two and a half years have been riddled with confusion. About two years ago my husband's ex-wife had another child and when her boyfriend left her, he fought for and won full custody of that child. It was mentioned to us that he won the custody case due to the ex-wife's refusal of mental evaluation. No one ever mentioned that my husband's child was involved in anyway, and we were under the impression that the ex and the child were living with the child's great grandmother. About three months ago we found out that the ex left the child at the grandparent's house and moved to Arkansas for almost a year. My husband has no contact with his ex-wife, only the grandparent. We didn't even know that she had left for anytime at all until she returned. Now, the grandparent is saying that a judge granted him custody of the child, and did not have to contact either partent because it was viewed as abandonment for both parents. Is this legal? Can a judge grant custody to a grandparent without informing either parent of the petition? My husband has called and visited his daughter on a regular basis. He followed visitation the way it was laid out in his custody papers. How can the grandparent claim that my husband abandoned the child? I am so confused. Can anyone give me any legal insight on this situation?

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Your husband should have been served a copy of the petition for custody and given a chance to contest the grandparents’ request for custody. He should start by getting a copy of the court file for the custody proceeding (if there really was one) to see what happened and verify what the grandparents have told him. Then take that information to a family law attorney for advice.

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It was mentioned to us that he won the custody case due to the ex-wife's refusal of mental evaluation.

Mentioned by whom?

No one ever mentioned that my husband's child was involved in anyway

Involved in what? The custody case between your husband's ex and the father of her younger child? Why would anyone mention anything to you or your husband about that?

we were under the impression that the ex and the child were living with the child's great grandmother.

You were "under the impression"? How is it your husband -- who you said had regular visitation during the relevant time period -- did not know about his own child's living situation?

Now, the grandparent is saying that a judge granted him custody of the child, and did not have to contact either partent because it was viewed as abandonment for both parents. Is this legal? Can a judge grant custody to a grandparent without informing either parent of the petition?

First of all, it appears that you're assuming the information received from the grandfather is 100% accurate. I doubt that's a very smart thing to do. Before questioning the legality of this, I think your husband should ascertain independently what exactly happened by reviewing any relevant court records.

How can the grandparent claim that my husband abandoned the child?

This question doesn't make a lot of sense. You're basically asking how a person can lie.

After your husband obtains information from a reliable source (i.e., by checking the court file as mentioned above), he should contact a local family law attorney to review the relevant information and advise him.

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