I am hoping you might be able to offer me some legal advice on a very tricky situation.
My girlfriend (39) and I recently decided to give our relationship another chance after approximately six months apart. We have, in the past, dated on and off but, in each instance, decided to terminate the relationship for a variety of (standard) reasons.
The complication is that my girlfriend has been divorced for around five years now, but has an 8-year old son with her ex-husband. Upon learning that we have decided to once more persue a romantic relationship, he immediately turned hostile towards my girlfriend, threatening over WhatsApp to have her son removed from her custody if she had anything to do with me, as well as attacking her general character, as well as mine, despite never having had a conversation with me.
Whether through jealousy or some other petty and nefarious agenda, he has vowed to have her custodial rights terminated, saying that I am bad for her and therefore bad for the wellbeing of the child. My girlfriend has, in the past, relied on her ex-husband in times of emotional turmoil, and he is threating to use evidence of this as grounds for having the child removed from her custody.
A few things to note:
-The child is thriving and performs exceptionally well at school
-His mother ensures that he is bathed, fed, taken and fetched from school, groomed, nurtured, played with and provided with the most perfect example of a safe and loving home environment that I have ever seen
-I have an extremely good relationship with the child, and he often asks when I am coming to visit, or when they can visit me, even saying that I feel like his “step dad”
-My girlfriend is a recovering alcoholic, but religiously attends AA meetings and has not touched alcohol in almost a year – this is one of the issues the ex-husband has threatened to use as evidence of why she is unfit to take care of the child
-She has seen a clinical psychologist for the past 10 years, and regularly sees a psychiatrist for bipolar mood disorder, for which she takes daily medication
-Coming to me, I am a university graduate, have a good job and stable income, no criminal record, am not physically or verbally abusive, and have never abused alcohol or drugs. I have, however, been hospitalised twice for major depressive disorder, for which I take daily medication
My question is: does her ex-husband have any legal grounds for having the child removed from my girlfriend’s custody? Does he have a case, especially considering that the “evidence” he claims to have is nearly a year old? What legal recourse do we have in this regard?
Your advice would be greatly appreciated.