Need tips and resources for custody battle of 5 month old

Samantha - posted on 12/28/2014 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I am a new mom of 5 month old baby boy! I am 25 years old (dad just turned 21- not here to get into THAT predicament) and would like some advice on custody. Dad and I were split up when I found out I was pregnant, he told me up and down that he *couldn't * have a baby, he was "too young". Well, we later tried to work it out. I moved to an apartment by myself, towards the end of my pregnancy we were inthe works of having him added to my lease when I found out he started seeing his ex. I called it off and here starts the predicament. From the day my son was born, his father only saw him a handful of times. He made excuses as to why he couldn't (I lived too far away, he worked late, etc) so I stopped putting the offer out there for him to visit. He moved into a house of his own 2 months later (even farther away). He had 3 roommates (all just recently turned 21) move in with him as well. One of those roommates being his new girlfriend. He has yet to help me at all with child support, although we do finally have a hearing next month. Throughout my maternity leave he called me a bum (I only took 6 weeks) and I was close to bring evicted. He has also sent me harassing text messages about seeing our son. Here is my issue, there is 4 young adults living in his house (at first he wasn't even going to tell me who they were). And he still has not allowed me to know where he lives. He says it is none of my business. He is a heavy drinker, so I know there are a lot of parties going on, and he also has a UDD. Needless to say, I have not allowed him to take our son. If he wants to see him, he can do so when I am there. Another bit of information, I breastfeed. I have been more than compliant with him, I brought our son to his mother's for Christmas. I brought him up to his cabin in the summer, etc. But we have hit a wall. He seems go think he will get 50/50 custody, and that I will have no say in the matter. Essentially, I do not trust him with our son, as he has proven that his priorities are not in order right now. He has no experience with children (he didnt even know you cant leave them in the car when you exit) and seems to think he will also be granted overnights. Has anyone gone through a similar situation? And what resources do I need to protect our son?

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Ev - posted on 12/29/2014

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It is hurting the child when parents do not communicate. I have had that for the last 13 years with my ex husband. A lot of the time if there is a major decision to be made and we are court ordered to make it together, he goes ahead and makes the choices without my imput and I find out a week or so later about it. I have told him time and again that he needs to discuss this with me to no end. But it takes money to take it back to court and I did not have it to do so to get him to comply. Also legal aid was not an option as I did not qualify for the help. Be it as it may, my kids are grown ups now so it does not matter much. But they would tell me when their dad made a choice he was supposed to talk to me about as that was how I found out. I did not ask them, they told me of their own accord. His wife also tried to make those choices where she had no legal say in. He would listen to her mostly. But at some point you are going to have to learn to in a sense let go. If the judge gives him time to see the child in his own home, you are not going to get to be there with him. It will be his parenting time.

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Samantha - posted on 12/29/2014

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That last bit of information definitely helps. I don't know what my rights are in regards to this situation, and I have no idea the things I can request if need be. I am more than willing to go along with whatever his father thinks is necessary, as I am more than willing to work with him. I basically gave up trying to communicate with him because he harasses me. I have explained to him that I will literally drive our son to his house, or welcome him into mine so that he can visit. He refuses to do either because he does not want me to be there. He won't even look me in the eyes the times I have seen him. There needs to be some type of communication between us before I trust him, and he refuses to give me that peace of mind. How do you co-parent if you won't speak to each other? I think that would be very detrimental to my son.

Ev - posted on 12/29/2014

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Samantha--

in regards to your questions you can request anything you want of the judge but that judge is going to look at the whole picture and decide the best interest of your child. You are a new mother and not an expert on a child either so what if the judge decides on parenting classes for both of you? Also, the father can if he so wishes take it to court that you are purposefully keeping his child from him by denying visits no matter the reasons (which are your feelings about him and that is not enough to go on as far as any judge is concerned) and that is called parental alienation. That would give the judge all he or she needed to give joint custody or even up to full custody to the father. Just because you have a legal aide and nurse backing you up does not mean that they are going to turn the judge's eyes in your direction. Taking this to court means you have no say in how the judge decides this. You need to put your personal position with this man aside and worry about the child. This father has rights too. He needs to be able to parent this child just as you do and to have a relationship. And no matter what the legal aid and nurse say, it might not be considered proof that this man is unfit to be a father and parent his child right. You are not giving him a chance to do so. I read another post where this young mom decided that the father did not know how to take care of a child at all but that man was not allowed to see the child long enough to learn how to be a parent in the child's life. Children are not pawns. I know you worry for his safety at dad's house but you can have it put in the court orders that dad is not to have anyone living with him that he is not related to or married to (females) and that no parties or alcohol is allowed around the child by anyone in the household.

Samantha - posted on 12/29/2014

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I agree, I don't really have anything that proves he's been of any physical threat to my self, or my son, but I do believe I have a right to say no in allowing him to see him right now. I have a legal aide and a public health nurse that are backing me up in this as well. All I get are harassing messages sent from him telling me I'm a terrible mother, he has no mature means of communicating with me on this matter, making it impossible for me to feel comfortable with him seeing our baby. I live in the state of MN where they are more than likely on the mother's side unless she poses any problems. And I have friends who have , unfortunately, been in my situation and only granted the father joint legal because they allowed them to have it. My main reasoning for posting was to ask, what are some things I should be prepared for? Or bring to the judge's attention, if I feel he's not exactly fit for this? Can I request parenting classes? Or for him to visit with our son at his father's house instead?

Dove - posted on 12/29/2014

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Your son is only 5 months old. You are treating his father like there have been years and years of these issues. 5 months is NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. I will tell you one thing about my case... when my ex and I finally went into court he had not seen our kids a single time in 10 months... and the ONLY thing that kept him from immediately getting joint custody was the fact that he moved too far away to make it practical.

You have very legitimate concerns w/ not knowing where the father lives (he will be court ordered to give you address and contact number) and I fully understand the formula concern. 'I' would not be letting anyone take off w/ my 5 month old unless it were court ordered... but if you go into court w/ all of this as reasons to not allow him to see his son... you will almost certainly lose.

Samantha - posted on 12/29/2014

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Thank you for the replies. I am not court ordered to allow his father to see our child right now, and because of the danger I see it putting my son and I in, I do not believe it is necessary. We were never married, when our son was born he signed the ROP. About 2 months later, he retracted his ROP and got a paternity test. He has been come and go in our son's life and I believe that to be damaging to him. I have all documented times on when he has seen his son from the day he was born. We have come down to the point where he only wants to see him if he can "take him" from me. Since he will not tell me where his house is, I will not allow it. He also explained to me that he will not tell me what he does with him when he has him, and might even give him formula because that's the "normal" thing to do. Im hoping the judge can see he doesn't have our sons best interest at heart, as this is only a battle to him, one that he wants to win.

Ev - posted on 12/29/2014

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Dove is right in her post. But I can somewhat elaborate on the breast feeding in my state. Do not take this a sound truth for all places. My friend had her third child and was breast feeding. The judge did not allow over night visits until her daughter was over the age of two because of that. But as Dove said, some judges may just tell you to pump and deal with it. Also, you can not dictate when he can see or not see the child. By not offering him chances to come visit, he can use that in court against you since you did say you took the offer on visits off the table. He also can not dictate anything either really. The judge will look at everything and decide the best interests of the child. Once custody, visitation and child support are set in motion you both have to abide the orders that are set in place. As for him seeing his child, if he chooses not to see his kid then you can not force that. You can take it to court and get him in contempt of the issue. In the long run, unless you can prove that the place your ex lives in and that he are both a danger to your child via police reports for drinking and driving, convictions for it, or other things such as this, there is nothing you can say or do that the judge is going to go on. He or she needs documented proof that there is a danger to this child.

Dove - posted on 12/28/2014

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Get a lawyer and really research your rights in your area as far as being a breastfeeding mother and having overnights. Some judges will not allow overnights for a child under a year who is breastfed... and other judges will just tell you to pump and deal w/ it. There are WAY too many variables involved for anyone to be able to accurately tell you what will happen. He might get 50/50 custody immediately... or you might get physical custody for now w/ working up to 50/50 as your son gets older.

Without solid evidence against the father you will not be able to get supervised visitations granted... but you 'may' be able to request short, frequent visits for now.

My situation is a lot different and was a long time ago, but when my ex first started visitations w/ our son they were for 3 hour stretches and built up from there.

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