My daughters father is trying to change our access agreement from every other weekend to every week, how likely is it that it will happen?

Tammy - posted on 04/25/2013 ( 31 moms have responded )

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My daughter is 2 and a half years old. She has lived with me since birth, and has gone to her fathers every other weekend since she was 5 months old. She is very happy with me, and she is fine going to him every other weekend. Although, I am unable to drop her off because she will freak out when I leave her there (normal). After two years of things being the same way, her father randomly served me with papers from the court trying to change his access from every other weekend to every other week. My response was no, so we will be going to court. Her father has NEVER paid me one penny towards her, I have never stopped his visits because of non-payment. I have soley supported my daughter financially since day one. She has a very stable home, very happy in her life, & I truly believe she would not be happy with this change. I have gone to college and have a career, her father has not worked since I've known him, not because he is unable, just because he is lazy. He's had his water cut off now for three months. I've never bad talked him to my daughter, I keep things very positive when she goes to him, and each time I pick her up shes ecstatic to come home. I know she loves her father, and I do not plan on changing anything. I just want to know, how possible is it that the courts will give him what he asks for? I'm worried sick at the possibility of it. I could not imagine only seeing my daughter every other week. Please help.

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Jodi - posted on 04/25/2013

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I'm not sure what your chances are - I guess it depends where you live. Where I live, he'd probably get it if he could prove he has a stable environment for her. 50/50 is very much encouraged here. From my understanding it is encouraged in many jurisdictions unless there are clear reasons not to.

You need to just make sure you have your evidence as to why it isn't a good idea. Please don't use the fact that he has no job or that he hasn't paid you any money. It is irrelevant. Things like the water being cut off is relevant, but if that is the worst of it, and he has a solution that works for your daughter, then it probably won't matter. Really, you need legal advice, so get a lawyer.

With regard to this comment: "I have never stopped his visits because of non-payment. ". You don't have that right. Payments are not linked to visitation. Your child is not a commodity available for rent.

Dove - posted on 04/26/2013

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Child support and visitation have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Sure, not paying support makes him look bad, but if you bring that up in court as to why he should not have more time with her.... that can make you look bad and like you are using your child as a pawn for money.

If she likes to see her father and enjoys her time with him... what specifically are you worried about with her being there every other week? Is it just the water issue and the fact that you can't imagine spending a week without her? Or are their issues that directly impact HER and her mental/emotional well being? If it's the prior... chances are pretty good that a decent judge will grant the switch. If it's the latter and you have evidence of it... chances are good that a decent judge will deny the switch.

It really depends on the specific laws in your state, the particular judge, and what the lawyers can and can not prove.

Peggy - posted on 05/05/2013

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Jodi,
Although you are correct when you state that a child is not a commodity, it is very difficult for a single mother to not get upset with the situation because she is playing by the rules, and her ex is not. What father doesn't help pay for their child? Understand he is not working, but there may be other ways that he can help Tammy out. It is normal to want to take away the privileges of the person that is causing the problem when you cannot get help in areas that are needed. What other recourses are there?
Examples of how he can help if not able to give money.
1. Drop of or pick up daughter at sitter or school. Takes the pressure and stress off Tammy ever day.
2. Take child to appointments when needed - Tammy doesn't have to take time off or vacation days at work.
3. Take a lesser paying job and give something toward child support. Helps financially even if in small amounts.

Jackie - posted on 04/26/2013

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Hi Tammy,

I give you a round of applause!!! You are light years ahead of many! I do have a few random thoughts I would like to share with you.

Child support and visitation are not in the same ballpark. I get the feeling that you expect the father not to ask for more visitations because he has paid no child support. Whether he pays or not, he is entitled to have a relationship with her father.

The judge has to follow law and guidelines. Merely bringing up child support when the issue is visitation can upset some judges. Try to stay on the topic and use facts that you can prove in court. Focus on her health, safety and well-being.

Your daughter may not be too happy going to her dad's home now but that can change. In time she may fall into a 'normal' pattern and love having alternate weeks with you both.

There are many studies that show children where both parents are involved, they are more well-rounded and more successful.

As her mother, you are in an excellent position to help the father become a good dad that your daughter will grow to love. It is much easier to pull a string up a hill than to push it. Your daughter is two, she will be eighteen and on her own in sixteen years. Think to the future, how do you want your daughter to remember your role when she looks back on her relationship with her dad?

In preparation for the possible child support issue getting to court, you may want to begin keeping detailed records of all expenses connected to your daughter.

I understand and feel your fear and anxiety concerning your daughter's possible absence. Remember our children pick up quick on our moods even when we don't say a word.

Your daughter's father is "the other parent."

Good luck,

Jackie

Laura - posted on 04/29/2013

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I don't see what the problem is. if he wants to have his child every other week then you should be jumping up and down for joy. half the men out there are too busy chasing women then worrying about being a hands on father. all children need their father's influence in their lives, it makes them understand how to build healthy relationships later in life. get along for the sake of your daughter, swallow your pride and do the right thing. sometimes we have to do things as parents that we don't like but when it comes to our children we must do what's best..hands down. would you rather him be a dead beat, and then having her grow up being one of those girls who has daddy issues?
you know in your heart what your decision will be, i'm praying you will do the right thing.
peace and blessings

31 Comments

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User - posted on 05/07/2013

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This state is a mother's state. Unless the mother can be proven to be incompetent as a mother, she will get custody of any children. My husband's ex-wife lied in court, but still received full custody and child support. She repeatedly refused visitation; my husband took her to court several times over it. She used their son as a pawn to try destroying my husband! Fortunately, it did not work!
On the other hand, my ex-husband adopted my daughters from my first marriage. I divorced him for abuse, which I found out after he had been emotionally and sometimes physically abusing the girls. At the time of our divorce, the girls were old enough to speak to the judge and voice their concerns. The judge told the girls he was their father and he had every right to see them, so she ordered supervised visitations. At one point, he called the police, saying the girls were not following the visitation order. The officer told my 15-year-old daughter she would go to jail if she did not obey the visitation order! My daughter stated she would rather go to jail than visit him. Visitation was discontinued after that incident. Sometimes, the judges do not follow what is in the best interest of the children, and changes are only made after something happens, like it did with my daughters!
Your daughter is only 2, so she cannot voice her opinions to the judge. It is the responsibility of the adults to be truthful about the relationships these young children do have with their fathers. My first ex-husband was good with the girls, but his girlfriend was not. That is a whole different story. However, if her father does not have running water, I would think that would be a major concern the judge should have in this case. Also, if he is not working, how is he planning on supporting his daughter if he does have her more often?

Mandy - posted on 05/07/2013

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I think a lack of running water for the last 3 months would (or at least should) be a huge issue with the courts. That means he hasn't been able to bathe her for the last three months on the weekends he's had her...and what about the bathroom situation? I also think that it would be drastic to go from every other weekend to every other week. If the court does order this, and I hope they don't, I would request that it's a gradual process so the child can get used to the new schedule. Is it possible he is abusing drugs or alcohol? If that is concern, I would also being that up with the court. Honestly it sounds line he's trying to get child support from you. 50/50 time and your higher income could get him that although he would still owe back child support. :/ I think you have valid concerns and have every right to be worried! keep doing what's best for your daughter. Prayers for you and your little one! :)

Christine - posted on 05/07/2013

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It's very possible he will get what he wants. The only reason you (basically) have for not wanting her to go is because you don't want her too. You have no child protection concerns so there is really no valid reason why he should not have more access to her. Unfortunately, Your personal life (ie, your career choice, level of education etc.) play no part in the court system. In fact, he could argue that his home would be a better option for her to live because he doesn't work and would be able to care for her full time. You, in turn, have a career and I assume your child is in daycare on a daily basis. His argument would be; "Why send her to daycare, when she can stay with me." Courts don't care about what's best for you or your daughters father, or how their decision will make you feel..... their only concern is what is in the best interest of the child.

It's only fair to say he's never paid a cent towards her care and upbringing if you've asked him to contribute and he has refused. Do you have a court ordered child support agreement? If so, is he in arrears on his support? Also, child support arrears are not grounds for not allowing access and courts frown upon Mothers who do such things.

Personally, I have plenty or experience in this and I would give anything for my daughters father to at least meet her. She's 2.5 and he has never met her, talked to her on the phone a bit but never physically met her. Count yourself lucky... you actually have a man who give a care about his child. Sorry if I sound harsh, but this all draws from my experience.

Amanda - posted on 05/07/2013

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I am so sick of women thinking their babies are theirs and theirs alone.... the father has just as much right to have that child as the mother does.... every action has a consequence.... yours is sharing joint custody with someone YOU deem as a loser.... here's a clue, could your reaction to him be based on hurt emotions.... those emotions cannot be used against him when it comes to your child.... if you didnt want to share custody of a child with him, you shouldnt have had sex with him....

Jodi - posted on 05/05/2013

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""Although, I am unable to drop her off because SHE WILL FREAK OUT when I leave her there (normal)." The child freaks out when her mum leaves her there alone!!! it must mean something, doesn't it?"

Nope. My son used to freak out when I left him at daycare when he was that age. All it meant was that he wanted his mum. It IS normal if she doesn't see a lot of her dad.

Rachel - posted on 05/05/2013

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if the court is going to approve this application then I really wonder what is in their brains... the father is not working, has no income, water has been cut for 3 months now, how on earth is he going to be able to support/feed the child for 2 weeks every month??? does he expect u to pay him for the 2 weeks per month your daugther is there with him? hello people, it is no longer about the rights about the father we are talking here. it's the well-being of the child we are talking about here. and did anyone read... "Although, I am unable to drop her off because SHE WILL FREAK OUT when I leave her there (normal)." The child freaks out when her mum leaves her there alone!!! it must mean something, doesn't it?

Jodi - posted on 05/05/2013

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@ Peggy
Believe me, I understand just as much as anyone (actually, probably more than some here because I've had 14 years of it). I don't need a lecture on the ways he "could" help out. It still doesn't have anything to do with the custody situation.

Brandy - posted on 05/05/2013

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I would say that 90 percent of the people I know are now being forced to go to 50/50 parenting. Most are from Sunday to Sunday with mom and then Sunday to Sunday with dad. Even the ones who don't help out with support. Good luck to you.

Jodi - posted on 05/05/2013

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No, I commented on the fact that I don't see an issue with that either.....in fact quite a number have commented on their views on 50/50 care.

But I agree that it is very annoying when people jump on the bandwagon in the belief that somehow mothers have more rights and dads should get nothing more than every second weekend (and even less if they don't pay any child support). It annoys the heck out of me, too, when people don't actually stop and consider the child's rights.

[deleted account]

All other issues aside, I think perhaps some of you you have misread the posters's question: a lot of you have commented on the father having the child every other weekend "and what's wrong with that?". I believe the poster was saying that is the CURRENT arrangement but he wants to take her back to court so he could have the child EVERY weekend! Whatever your personal opinions may be on a particular question, shouldn't we make sure we're responding to the actual question? :)

Peggy - posted on 05/03/2013

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Tammy,
The courts will see that you are doing everything, and will try and make him pay you some kind of child support. The courts do not like taking any visitation rights away. I was a single mom mother of two, and I never received child support. I was wrong and bad mouthed their father, because he didn't even try and help, and turned visitation rights on and off as he pleased. My children still wanted to see him, and so the court allowed him visitation rights even though he didn't pay. It is a very said situation for single mothers and something needs to change in the system. He would violate his rights each and every time he either picked them up or when he dropped them off, and when I took him to court nothing happened. It was only a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. Your ex realizes what he lost, and he hopefully can try and make it up to your daughter.
You are a very good parent and are doing everything right. Try not to get upset about the situation at hand and do it for your daughter. She will have to have some type of relationship with her father, and you need to try and keep it a positive one, so later on she won't suffer and feel rejected by men when she is an adult. She will always love you and you will always have a special bond that he will never have.
Hang in there you are doing a great job.

Abby - posted on 05/02/2013

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I doubt the courts will give him his request. I would prove that he has never taken care of her financially and things are fine the way they are. I would also ask what made him want this change. I'm going through the same with my ex but he can only have every other weekend due to him being abusive and not having any rights to my kids. I really hope the courts see that your the parent and she needs to stay with you full time. Good luck

Martine - posted on 05/02/2013

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Hi Tammy, I believe that the most important factor here is how your daughter acts and reacts when she is around her father. All fighting aside, I agree it is generally a good sign that he wants to be so much in her life, but is that what your daughter wants? As long as the relationship is loving and supporting her to grow into a happy child, I would welcome more involvement. But considering she is very young and you seem to have a good grip on your life, it is important you argue in court that the current arrangement works fine and that stability is what your child needs. And maybe "invite" them to revisit this when the girl is older and can participate more in the decision. Good luck.

Kristina - posted on 05/01/2013

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I would be very careful. I had primary custody of my son. One day without reason or warning. Lehigh County Family Court gave my sons father primary custody, leaving me very little time with my Son. He was only 5 at the time. I wont ever forget the look in his eyes that day. Both my son & I were horrified. I had him enrolled in preschool & I wanted the court order modified so he could have a more stable life. I was a stay at home mom & during my custodial time, I was his only caretaker. His father shuffled him through family members. Also, I had reports of his fathers abuse against me.I was not allowed to speak in the courtroom that day. I was threatened with jail if I attempted to speak. I'd always felt that something wasn't right. My son would scream bloody murder whenever his dad would pick him up. I also sensed he fearedhis father. He became instantly nervous & didn't smile in his fathers presence. A short time after losing primary custody, did my son disclose sexual abuse at the hands of his grandmother. It got even worse after that. You'd be shocked.

Paula - posted on 04/29/2013

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My daughter is nearly 3yrs and has been going to access visits to her father since she was 3mths. I fought tooth and nail through the court system as I believe shared care at such a young and tender age wrecks havoc on their mental and emotional development, at any age. At the moment, she goes every wed afternoon and every second weekend. I was told by lawyers that is the most common and acceptable access visitation around and that is all a separated really needs. They told me and I will quote it to you too - "quality time is better than any time". as long as he actually spends this precious time with his daughter, it is on his onous to spend quality time with her. My ex wanted his wed hours changed and threatened to go back to court. I didn't even flinch as I know that its only a threat and he probably couldn't afford it. My advice? Just go with the flow and stick to your guns. Tell him what he has is enough and the courts will not give him more. Keep records and always prove you have the best interests of the child and not him.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 04/29/2013

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Yep, Jodi's got it spot on...Alimony??? Spousal support???? LOLOLOL

You HAD spousal support when you were married. If you're no longer married, what makes you think HE SHOULD STILL SUPPORT YOU?????

Child support? Yes, definitely fair, and should be determined based on the real expenses of the children and split evenly between parents (which I know doesn't work because of the parents who don't pay, both dads and moms)

But alimony??? Yeah, right.

Melody - posted on 04/29/2013

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Hey there Tammy! This is a very heart wrenching topic for any single mother, whose ex is still in the picture. Is the support of your daughter court ordered? If not dont ask for it to be during this court session. If it is, then bring up the fact that he has failed a court order. You dont want to look like you care only about the money by asking for support to be mandated. Definantely get a good lawyer. It will cost you, but in the end you will have your child. I was beat by my ex, and had a TPO issued when he was arrested and charged. When we went to court for the first time I had a horrible divorce attorney and he got 30 days of retroactive visitation. Even though I had police, hospital, and CPS records proving the abuse to my son and I. After that I just agreed to visitation to every other weekend. I would pray my son would come back to me healthy and unhurt. It was a nightmare. It caused a lot of anxiety and sleepless nights. In the end he also quit paying support and tried to take me back to court. He tried to get our son primarily and for me to have him every other week. The court ruled in my favor, because he had failed his court order, and wasted her time supplying no evidence for his reasonings for the custody change. I was also awarded attorney fees. But I had also changed lawyers to one that cost three times as much and was respected throughout the court system. I would ask around. Ask other lawyers, not necessarily family court lawyer, who are the best family court lawyers in town. Thats how I found mine. Its sad to say but which lawyer you choose will make the difference in your case. Its the only way to guarantee a win. I know how hard it is for you to give up your daughter every other weekend. I used to argue I didnt try to conceive for so long, just to not spend every moment I could with him. Now after six years we talk everything out and work through things. But I have signed a notarized paper saying he has been relieved of paying child support. I have learned so much, through all of this. I could have saved myself years of heartache by just signing it a long time ago. He wasn't paying anyhow, and it was his main reason for taking me back to court so many times. I would just ask your ex, if there is any way to work this out, without going to court. Let him know if you are willing to relieve him of his obligations to support if he just backs off. When she starts school, every week end with him will not be fair. You will never see her. Week nights don't count. They are just filled with homework, dinner/bath battles and a few moments of smiles before bed. You need at least a weekend a month to go places and do things with your daughter. You cant take her to ChuckECHeeses on a school night!! Ive tried it, and it calls for a late bed time. lol Anyhow good luck!! Just try to stay calm. If you haven't given the judge any reasons for the custody to change. In most cases you wont lose, but there is always a chance. Prepare yourself to lose and when you win it will be a perk. Also remember to hold your tears in front of your daughter. She wont understand, and it will only make things worse for her. I wish you the best of luck, take care!!

Heather - posted on 04/28/2013

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Having been in a similar situation let me share the reality of the law with you. The courts do not care what you think is in the best interest of your child.. becuz they know your opinion is biased. The more you argue with her having more time with him.. the more time he will be awarded which of course means less time with you. If you consistently fight her having more time with her father it will be looked at like you are against her having a healthy relationship with her father.. they will say your daughter is in danger of being brainwashed by you to dislike her father and refuse to have a relationship with him. The truth doesn't matter in cases like this. In the end you will be the one to only see her every other weekend until he meeses up so bad that they cannot ignore it and allow you to have her in your home again.
I'm not telling you this to scare you.. I want you to know the reality of the injustice that is in the family courts. This is what happened to me. I have 2 children.. my son is 13 and my daughter is 7. I had police and hospital reports to show the kinds of person my ex is. I also had a report from Child Protective Services saying it was in the best interest of my children to have no contact with their father. The courts accused me of brainwashing my children and being overly protective. My children were taken from my home and lived with him for 4 years before the truth finally came out. Just a couple months ago I got my kids back. I had to wait for him to mess up really bad 3 times before the courts woukd finally agree that he was not a safe or responsible person to care for my children. Its very scary and heartbreaking to go thru that!
Be smart and get a really good lawyer!
Understand this.. whether you like him or not does not change the fact that he is her father. Don't try to disrupt that. If he is just lazy there's no reason why he can't have more time with her. You souls take her feelings and her future into consideration and do everything you can to help their relationship be the best it can be. I may not like my ex and all he's put me thru.. but I pray for him everyday and foster a good relationship between him and our children. When they are older they will form their own opinion of him..what they do will be of their own accord..not becuz I couldn't stand him and the abuse I endured still gives me nightmares. Do you understand?
When it comes to things like this it is best to stop and take a look at the big picture realistically. Don't do anything that will in the end disrupt your relationship with your baby. 4 years was a long time to fight.. but I met people while going to court that fought longer.
I'll be praying for your situation!
Take care!

Jodi - posted on 04/27/2013

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I'm with Dove. Custody is automatically 50/50 where I live, unless you have court orders stating otherwise. I don't see the issue - it often is in the best interests of children. Mothers don't have exclusive rights over their children.

And spousal support is bullshit anyway. I fail to see why this is necessary in most cases. Get a job like the rest of have had to in order to support yourself. It doesn't kill you.

Dove - posted on 04/27/2013

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50/50 custody typically IS in the best interest of the child though, Sarah... without extenuating circumstances. And alimony? lol....

Sarah - posted on 04/27/2013

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Hopefully you do not live in the state of Florida. Recent legislation which is actually at this moment (Senate Bill 718) before the governor for signature, is going to "assume" for intents of child support and visitation , that all children should be/are on a 50/50 visitation/custody share. NCP's, whichever they are, will get more visitation. Very very few exceptions will be granted and I believe that they will be more for parents living out of state from each other. It also is going to discontinue spousal support (alimony) for spouses married less than 11 years and reduce it greatly up to marriages of more than 20 years. And the biggest kicker....it is retroactive on old decrees....men will be flocking to Florida to divorce so they get off the hook. Even if the non-custodial parent (NCP) does not actually have custody, they will not have to pay more than 50% of whatever the support order has allowed. Suggest all Floridian moms read that bill. In summary it:

- is no longer just about alimony – it contains a presumption that a 50/50 timesharing schedule is in the best interests of every child and only in limited circumstances does that not apply;
-eliminates permanent alimony and for all intents and purposes, temporary alimony as well;
-limits durational alimony to 50% the length of the marriage;
-defines a short term marriage as up to 11 years (with a presumption against any alimony at all);
-sets alimony “guidelines” with numbers pulled from the sky;
-allows anyone who was court ordered to pay alimony to go back to modify or terminate their obligation based on the bill and those who were married for 15 years or less and AGREED to pay alimony for a period of time longer than the length of the marriage (for whatever reason) may also return to court as well. A complete divorce do-over, at least as far as alimony is concerned…

Find an ombudsman or talk with an attorney in your area or your state. Crying here for families in Florida.

Amber - posted on 04/26/2013

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I can understand how scary this would be for you. Couple of questions does he live on his own, have a roommate or with his parents. If he does not have a job how does he pay rent. Does he move around a lot? Does he frequently have people staying with him? Is it common for him to have utilities shut off such as electric and gas? Does he keep food in the house when she is there. When you get her back from visits has she been bathed, teeth brushed, hair brushed and clean cloths?
It is hard to give you a true assessment of what might happen without some more information. I really hope that it all works out for you. Not to add more stress to your already full plate but is there a possibility that he is using this as a change to have you pay him support? I understand that he owe a lot of back support but if he does not work and you have a higher income than he does you could be ordered to pay him support so that he can support her when he has her.
Good luck I hope that everything works out for you.

Sandra - posted on 04/26/2013

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i'd say try it for a couple months, if its not going to work you'll know. You know her father better that anyone on here. Follow your instincts, but remember a father daughter relationship is extremely important. Her relationship with her father will be the base for her future relationships with other males as she grows...good luck

Alisha - posted on 04/25/2013

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Wow yea that's scary. If I were you I'd document everything. Every time he's seen her, not showed up anything. You will need that. I have no idea how likely anything is but I can't imagine how scary this must be. I would find out everything you can about the court system, definitely get some legal advise and an attorney if that's the route he's choosing. I would also maybe make up another plan you're more comfortable with, maybe he will agree and you could agree out of court. The best would be for you two to settle on something. Definitely him not paying support will look bad for him. Is there an order for him to pay? I would file for one if there isn't.

Michelle - posted on 04/25/2013

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Is the reason you are upset really for your daughter or for yourself? Your last sentence makes me think a lot of it has to do with you not wanting her to go.

I have done 50/50 shared care for 8 years. As long as you both communicate and discuss the issues regarding your daughter than it can work very well.

When my parents divorced I only got to see my Dad every 2nd weekend and it was hard. I loved my Dad to bits and to only have a couple of day was horrible. I would have loved to have been able to spend equal time with each parent but it wasn't encouraged when I was young.

I think you need to take the emotions out for a bit and think what is best for your daughter. You should be encouraging a healthy relationship between Father and Daughter.

Jodi is right about your comment regarding support and visitation, they are separate issues.

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