Going to court with an absent father. Help

Taylor - posted on 08/24/2017 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My daughter is four years old, and has been raised with me and her "psychological father" who is my boyfriend of 7 years. He has been there since I was pregnant. Her biological father walked the day I found out I was pregnant, and served time for breaking into my house. Once he got out, and got off probation, this year, he attempted to open a paternity case to go for joint custody. I have hired an attorney, and I have received my court dates. When I found out he tried to open a case I reached out to him, and tried to make things work without a court involved. He only showed for 2 of our planned visits, and 1 of those he was 2 hours late. He was introduced to my daughter by his name, which we both agreed too. My lawyer said he will get supervised visitation at a facility, but does anyone have any advice for me? What will happen at these pre-trials and trials? Can they use my boyfriend being called dad as emotional or psychological damage to my daughter?

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Sarah - posted on 08/26/2017

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I agree. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you have raised her. You have been civil and open to visitation. Just take it one step at a time. If she receives state aid, then the state is going to pursue support from him regardless of whether or not you are involved; that is just the rules.

Sarah - posted on 08/24/2017

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There is no such thing as open and shut in Family court. I have an intact nuclear family but as a school nurse I deal with students whose parents are in all stages of divorce, custody, you name it I have seen it. That fact you introduced the bio-dad as "Joe" or whatever, will not be a strike against you. The child is four and she identifies someone else as dad, and there is nothing wrong with that. Also, the man who is parenting her is her step-father, but a father none-the-less. Lots of kids call step parents mom and dad, so don't sweat that.
If bio-dad does request visitation, I'd try to negotiate a slow supervised plan to integrate him into her life. Even though he has been absent all her life, he is still her father. If he presents to a judge that he is credible in his desire to parent the judge is probably going to allow him some sort of parenting time. You want to try to work this out of the court room, you cannot predict the temperament of the judge. Also, if you deny him access entirely, that may make things tougher for you in front of a judge. If he contacts you and requests to see her, then do what you did before and set up a meeting. If he doesn't show, document that. Regarding child support, it is his obligation and your child's right to be supported. If you don't need the money to raise her you can save it for her college ed, a car or her wedding. Don't let him bully you into not pursuing what she is rightfully entitle to receive. There are dozens of posts about bio-dad not wanting to pay support threatening to sue for custody. She is not a bargaining chip for him to use to get free of his obligation.

Sarah - posted on 08/24/2017

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Document everything! communicate either thru your attorney (costly) or only in writing so you have a copy of what was said and the context. Your child will probably be appointed a GAL or CASA worker to represent her interests. She will not be called to testify. You may be asked to produce all of her medical records as proof you have been keeping up with her well child care. Most times, judge will order a mediator to try to get you to work things out rather have a trial. Try to make that work. Your child calling the man who has raised her "dad" is not going to be an issue. I hope bio-dad is on her BC, if not get that amended; either with a paternity test or an affidavit of paternity.

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Taylor - posted on 08/25/2017

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That's what I said. As a mother, I would walk away from a man before I told him not to be a father, if I couldn't handle it. With the history of his character and criminal record, I do not see it going very far, and for very long. He hates having to work for something. and the drive that he has to make to do all of this, including visits is an hour without traffic. He has more of a possession mindset with my daughter. There's not a genuine interest that I have noticed. But it may be uncomfortable trying to get to know a child of that age, that you don't know because of your own decision. My daughter is biracial, and the man who stepped and I are both white, her biological father has thrown out there that, "I'm not going to let a white man raise my child. I am going to get her. and we both know I will win." I try to understand, I swear I do. But I just don't see it being in our child's best interest long term.

Sarah - posted on 08/25/2017

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Wow, what a hypocrite his girlfriend is being! She wants/allows him to raise a child that is not his as his own, but she won't support a relationship with his own bio-kid? That's nuts. Sadly, it is often the case that a jealous partner will interfere in a healthy bond.
He can, and hopefully will have a healthy relationship with your child without having to involve the GF too much. If he visits her regularly over the coming years, and gradually can step up to taking her for a day out together, when she is older maybe it will become a shared custody situation. Given the hostility from the GF, I'd try to keep her out of the picture as long as you can. They are not married, so she would not be her step-mother even. Best of Luck!

Taylor - posted on 08/25/2017

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I have talked to my attorney and the biological father about counseling before and during the supervised visits, to slowly introduce him. I would never take away who he is, and I let him know that. My attorney said the facility for the visits would offer all of that.

I never denied him visits, I actually encouraged it. I reached out to him. I know how much I love my daughter, and how bad I would break if I couldn't see her. I wouldn't be able to rob her real dad of the same experiences. so I have not made this hard on him. But we tried to work it out outside of the court room. He was too mad about child support. Saying if he had to pay me and the state, because she's on state insurance, that he wouldn't do that without having joint custody. I have opened a bank account for my child so that child support money could be placed into it. I made it clear it wasn't about money, but about the two of them having a relationship. I was 1 when my parents divorced, and to this day they do not speak. It was a damaging process to go through, and I will by any means make this as easy on my daughter as possible.

Between the girlfriend not being supportive, and the criminal record of him, I am worried about my daughter being there eventually.

Taylor - posted on 08/25/2017

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No. We have been together since we have been 15 and 16. We had a breakup for about 6 months, and he had another girlfriend, and I just went out with friends and partied. The biological father was a friend from high school. But no cheating. I wanted to clarify that in the original post. But I didn't want to make it too long. And I figured as much, that it wouldn't be open and shut. I'm not against her real dad being a father to her, don't get me wrong. Thats why I tried to do this without the court system. If his intentions are good, I would love for that to happen. But his girlfriend who he has 2 kids with, and 1 that he has raised that is hers, doesn't support him being in my daughters life at all. She has taken car keys, threatened to leave with all the kids, everything. I have also tried to include her in everything, when it was civil. Even when we met for the first time at a park, I had stepped aside and spoken to her. But we have looked into his court records, and there is felony assault with a deadly weapon, failure to use restraint system on child, home invasion of the second degree (which was my house)

Michelle - posted on 08/24/2017

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Can you just clarify something?
You said you have been with your boyfriend for 7 years yet your daughter is only 4. You said that your daughter's father took off as soon as you found out you were pregnant. Were cheating on your boyfriend?

In regards to your case, nothing is open and shut in court. It depends on the judge on the day.

Taylor - posted on 08/24/2017

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I have made a custody binder, and I have documented everything. My attorney said it looks like an open/shut case. and he made the retainer fee the complete payment. So he doesn't charge me for contacting, but I haven't been asking him everything, because he is so confident, I feel like my anxiety would just become a burden eventually. I have already contacted the pediatrician, and her dentist for all records and dates of visits. Her biological father is not on the birth certificate, and a complaint for paternity has been issued. I am just really nervous of what this will do to my daughter, as she met him by his name, and not as "dad." i tried to be cordial with visitations outside of the court, but he failed, and the moment I said I had papers about child support, but it was just asking me to refile my "claim of good cause" he went off and said he was taking me to court. So i hired an attorney. Could he get joint custody if that's what he tries for? Even if he hasn't been in her life all but 4 times?

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