Earlier this week I had a custody hearing to determine the fate of my son, David. He is almost 10 years old now and despite wanting to live with me, 10 years old is not old enough for his opinion to matter in court here (Arizona, USA). So on my side is a Child Protective Case Worker (my only witness) and on her side...is just her. The short of it - I won. The long of it? What NOT to say to a judge... What the CPS officer states under oath: -Mother has been removed from at least two abuse shelters in last week. -Mother has stopped taking bi-polar medication. -Mother is currently abusing crystal meth. -Mother has shown inability to protect her children from her boyfriends. -Mother was aware of sexual abuse of her eldest daughter by her boyfriend and did nothing (She confessed this to CPS and own daughter confirmed mother found her and boyfriend naked in bed and simply went back to work). -Mother attepted to protect said boyfriend by claiming Father was the abuser. -Mother's residence has had police called 54 times in last 8 months -from domestic abuse to theft to drug activity. -Mother is facing criminal charges in a trial three weeks from now for assult and theft. ...you get the picture... After hearing ALL this, the judge - as well as the court reporters - are shocked. The judge looks at Mother and very deliberately says, "Before you say anything I need to make a few things clear. Are you aware that you may be charged with crimes resulting from the investigation into your lack of action regarding the sexual abuse of your daughter?" [She replies yes] "Ok, anything you tell me in this court can be used in any trials resulting from those investigations - do you understand this?" [She replies Yes] "Ok, now - is there anything you want to tell me?" Here starts a sad and comical tirade of nearly incomprehesible testmony in a court of law, under oath. Some of the highlights.... "I stopped taking my bi-polar medication because it was giving me seizures - that's when I started smoking marijuana." "Marijuana kept making me tired, so yeah, then I started taking meth." "Yeah, I was with some guys who beat on me and my kids." "He [me] is a bad father because he takes David to the movies and buys him candy" And the single greatest question posed by the judge to her, and my favorite "How to tell when you lost your court case?" When the judge asks you, "Have you been deemed competent to stand trial for your upcoming trial?"