My brother in law and his ex are going through an icky divorce in state X. She took the kids and fled to state Y then filed a restraining order against him. She did this in my father in law’s spare car (so, technically stolen, but my BIL’s lawyer advised them not to report the car stolen/get it back until after the divorce is final because she has to get to court hearings). He got temporary emergency custody, but then a judge here in Y split the custody 50/50 until they can have a hearing in state X. He had them for a week in state X, then she brought them back up to state Y to stay with a friend. She got kicked out of that house and dumped the kids on her mom for the rest of the week. As far as I know, she is homeless, but she hasn’t contacted me.
They have a custody hearing soon. Afterwards . . . should I stay 100% out of this? Or should I contact her and suggest she go to a women’s shelter to get on her feet?
I think my BIL should have custody. She’s always been a bit of a hot mess, and this is just the last straw. He’s a great dad (attentive, loving, engaged) whereas she doesn’t do a lot with them as far as I can see. Every time we’ve hung out as a family (including multiple week long vacations), other people do the majority of caring for her kids. I do a lot of crafts and activities with them. She wants to, but she’s had a rough life (raised in poverty, learned helplessness, etc) and doesn’t know well how to take care of herself much less the kids.
So . . . I’m nervous that if I suggest something it will lead to her getting custody. But I also feel bad for her and want to see her somewhere safe.
Is it worth mentioning that I think she’s with her boyfriend? He lost custody of his kids due to his drug use, and I think he has a bench warrant for missing a court appearance due to drug use. His kids live with his mom.
What do I do?
#1 says: This is a question for a real advice columnist. That sounds really hard for everyone involved.
It probably doesn’t matter if you reach out to her with your women’s shelter suggestion or not. She will most likely not take your advice if you reach out. So if it makes you feel better, reach out with your suggestion. If it seems like too much effort, don’t.
#2 says: Stay entirely out of anything legal, or who’s where in what situation. That’s not for you.
What *is* for you is to reach out to BIL’s wife, if you have a good relationship with her. Say something like “I heard you’re having a rough time. If you need some help, please let me know what I can do for you and the kids. I’d be happy to take them for an afternoon if you need a break [if this is true], or just listen if you want to talk.” That’s about it. You can offer to help, but her business is her own.
Obligatory plug for reading Captain Awkward, who often answers questions similar to this.
Who has better advice for Sister-in-Law?