Rome, NY asked in Public Benefits and Family Law for New York

Q: what are my options if custodial mother on public assistance doesn't wanna work

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Peter Christopher Lomtevas
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  • Schenectady, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Poverty is no consideration when custody of a child is involved, and the young father must support his child under threat of jail. The mother is free to work or not work. However, if the mother goes on welfare – or what we know today as welfare after the Clinton administration – the department of social services will force the young father to pay the department child support. This locks in the mother’s custody, which will be very difficult to shake.

Nonetheless, there is always an opportunity to modify custody by way of filing a petition in family court. That’s the same court where the young father got nailed for child support. If the custody is initial, then the young father stands a strong chance of winning the child not on the basis of poverty, but on a totality of the circumstances surrounding the primary caretakership of the child by the young father. Here, the mother will have an edge if the father is aloof and distant. If custody is already established and must be modified to the father, that will be far more difficult as father must show a sufficient change of circumstances for the court to review the order to see if it is still in the child's best interests and modify it if it is not.

The preparation of either petition takes the skill and knowledge of an attorney. The legal apparatus and its statutes are always skewed against the young father to better assist the young mother. Mothers take full advantage of this skewing. An attorney will understand this, and will properly act to maximize the young father’s chances at getting custody of his child, and leaving the mother with her welfare existence. Those young fathers who refuse to adhere to their attorney’s advice will always lose.

Otherwise, the mother may not realize that raising a child as a single parent in this nation is fraught with peril. There is a Gestapo-like child protective system in every state that can quickly remove the child from the mother for the slightest mishap. Just like with child support and domestic violence, the federal government pays matching funds to the state to gin up child abuse and child neglect cases against young mothers. Leaving the mother alone for a few years may eventually cause the mother to make a mistake (leave the child unattended, fail to consistently get the child to school on time, take the child too many times to a doctor). The young father can get custody through the child protective apparatus when any of this happens.

Should a parent of color complain that the legal system is racially biased, the state will have a person of color sitting on the bench who would be more ruthless than a person not of color. Should the child fail, that’s a possible outcome too. The system is not about the child; it is about the federal money that pays state employee mortgages. All this is made up to appear as if children are actually being protected, but it is not.

As for this asker, there is not enough information to opine as to what his “options” are. Options are always based on facts, and we have absolutely no facts here though hopefully this write up gives the asker some insight as to how to better ask his question.

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