How to get full custody?

Jenny - posted on 07/20/2010 ( 219 moms have responded )

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I have a 4 year old in which I have full physical and joint legal. I live on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. I recently got married and moved to the north shore side of the island while my ex is living in the south side. It's about a 30 minute drive with no traffic, 1 hour with traffic. The reason I put that, is to explain this:

When I lived in town, my daughter was going to a school that was only 5 minutes from my home and 10 from her dads. Her day care is from 8-430. Now that I live 30-60 away, I have to get up at make the drive at 545 to beat morning traffic just to drop my daughter off at school. I've sought out trying to get her into another school near me, but the hard part is, I am paying 327 for day care in town. If I put her in a daycare closer to where I live, I'd have to pay as a full time child (655), so I can't be paying both. Now, because I have joint legal, all decisions (including daycare/school) is decided between me and my ex. Mediation is court ordered, and I've recently asked for a session, but my ex denied it, so now I'm trying to go back to court for it. I had a lawyer before, but she was extremely expensive, and the lawyer my ex has is very good, so I'll have to go back to court with no lawyer, which I'm kind of uneasy about doing. My ex recently quit all jobs, and we went to court because he wanted to lower his child support. He's a full time student now. I just graduated from college, and am about to get a job. My job is from 730-430. Meaning I would have leave a lot earlier to get her to school, but then i'd be late picking her up everyday, when my husband can take my daughter to and from school since the daycare we want to send her to is so close to his work. Come to find out, all next week, my daughters school is shut down for summer cleaning, and I may start next week. When there is no school, we meet at the police station which is all the way in town. I keep asking him if we can go to mediation to solve it, he refuses. I ask him to be fair, he says hes doing whats best for our daughter. It's basically taring up my life because I pretty much have to accommodate him and I get no say no matter what I do. I'm trying to get full custody now, but knowing what I can do as far as full physical will help me, especially since my husband is in the military and we'll be moving in 2-3 years... will she even get to come with me because I have full physical?? And because I have full physical and I have her the majority of the time (22/31 days), am I able to pick where my daughter goes to school to benefit me more??

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Carolyn - posted on 07/22/2010

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Sorry, but I have to agree with Sara. All children deserve to spend time with both parents. I have three young children and separated from my husband almost 2years ago. I agreed that we have 50/50 custody even though while we were together and the kids were growing up he had practically nothing to do with looking after them, except for the fact he went to work and put food on the table. I too worked. There have been occasions when my children refused to go to their dads so I kept them home, his home at those times was unsuitable and since through mediation it has been agreed on a minimum requirement,

Jenny all you're saying is you want full custody, there seems to be no reason behind it as in he's a bad father or you have concerns for your daughters safety whilst she is with him. The two of you produced a child, you split up, thats pretty common these days and you have to deal with the consequnces. As your daughter is 4 she obviously knows who her father is, think about it in say 10years time when your daughter asks why she didnt get to know her father because you chose to have full custody. My kids see their dad half the time as I want them to know exactly who he is and what he is like. When they are old enough they will choose.

We need to look after our children in these situations, yes it may mean a bit more travel for us, or higher costs in child care, child maintenance issues, juggling when we do and dont have our children, but we had those kids and they deserve to grow up knowing they have a mum and a dad who love them.If you were still together you would still have many of these issues.

Sara - posted on 07/22/2010

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Sorry but I see the other side, why should the father not get to see his child because you have moved and may move again. It was your choice to move. Perhaps you can find a school in the middle that you can both agree to.

Jule - posted on 07/26/2010

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I have the BEST attorney on Oahu. I had a horrible joke of one before and ended up firing him and hiring another. She did my whole case for me for under 2k and mine was messy. My divorce and custody battle was finalized in Feb of this year, but her name is Andrea Heckler. She has an office in both Wainae and Kailua. I met with her there. She does free consults. You could contact her and tell her Jule Lawrence referred you. She's not out to take your money. Genuine and helpful. Give her a call and see what she can tell you about Hawaii laws.

Amber - posted on 07/26/2010

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First- Military legal offices do not help with family custody issues.
Second- Even if the father does not pay child support, he still has the right to visitation.
Third- If you are moving, you have to let the court know. It is illegal for you to move without letting them knowing. My husband is on the other end of a similar situation. He is in the military and his ex has full physical and part legal custody. Because she has his daughter, she thinks she can dangle her in front of my husband to get what she wants. We pay for all the travel costs when we get his daughter. (from WA to FL and back) It's not right. Mothers have no reason to complain unless the father is a deadbeat. Fathers, 9 times our of 10, get shafted. Take that into consideration when you take him to court for mediation and discuss you moving.

Pam - posted on 07/27/2010

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I've been married for 37 years to the same person. We had 4 children together. We always agreed, if ever there was a reason, one of us didn't want to remain married we would split the custody. Father's deserve as much time with their children as mother's-sorry. Put the kid's first-unless there's abuse on either side-they have rights to both parents equally. Even my daughter agreed with the above, when she and her husband split up. They each shared custody-1 week w/my daughter, the next week with her ex. It almost broke my daughters heart, when her girls went to their Dad's, but she knew her ex AND her girls deserved more than a week end together. I believe the law should be changed, Nationally, not to make the kids the pawns in a divorce, but their stability and life should be put first and foremost. If you decide to move out of the area, that you lived while married, etc (this should apply to those who are not married also) you give up your custody rights, and then have to apply with the court for e/o week end visitation-so your decision won't mess up the lives of your children. It's a decision you'd have to think long and hard about-but the kids should be first and foremost and maintain a stable life.

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Christine - posted on 07/28/2010

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I don't understand why you would want full custody. He sounds like he is still involved and thinking about his daughter and you chose to move...So I guess I don't see why you would want to legally strain their relationship.

Erin - posted on 07/28/2010

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In VA, if he had a job in the past 6 years and he was working, they view it as he is capable of working a Full-time job at at least minimum wage $7.25/hr. They figured that for my daughter SD and raised it to $365 a month on him. But if your child is with you over 50% of the time then you get to make the decisions. Also, get a legal aid lawyer, since Husband is in military you might qualify for some benefits through him.

Julia - posted on 07/28/2010

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You know the more I read of these situations the more it sounds like the only people benefiting are the lawyers! the laws definitely need to be looked to accommodate different situations. So many times we hear that the judges hands are tied. If that is the case then the system is just not working and the children are the ones ultimately paying the price.
So sad...

Jacqueline - posted on 07/28/2010

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Thank you for the response. My husband has paid child support for ten years and his ex-wife is remarried to a wealthy professional man w/o children. He pays his child support yet his ex-wife has connections with Family court- her lawyer is ajudge in the same court. We lost our appeal to see our children after a nearly 3 year long separation. Now we only see them occasionally at the mall with supervision. His ex-wife left on an overnight and never returned to the home they owned with my husbands two children.

I met my husband 2 years later and now we have children, but the ex-wife is not complying with the joint custody visitation, It is very sad for the children. They do not hear about the legal disputes... but they plead to be able to see their dad and the mother just will not allow contact. Their grandmother passed away three years ago and we saw them briefly at the funeral. Their grandfather cries to see them, & cousins and we are always in a state of trauma/loss due to their separation, but now we have young children in the home... so we are stuggling to support 4 children -two who seem to be hostages. My husband just got a job after losing 2 jobs in the past two years. It is a very difficult economy. One of those jobs was a professional director position for a 178 bed facility. Can you imagine, a director with a MA degree being prevented from seeing and having his own children in his home? As one lawyer put it, it is about one parents "feelings and emotions". It is an evil system in our case full of coruption. All we are left to say is that our children will grow-up and will want to stay with dad.
My husband is an amazing Father to our children- he watches them and cares for their every need. He cooks, changes diapers for two children and buys them clothes and toys, cleans, feeds, bathes, takes them out to play,

My husband is an all around amazing father and husband.

He has paid for court appointed MD's to test him just to prove to the EX that he is fine.... but we are part of a corupt stystem.

He had paid over 15,000.00 in lawyer fees to have his ex ingore them and then have his appeals case get trown out on a technicallity.

But he will go to jail if he does not pay his child support, or loose his DL so he can't work.

And he has paid off a debt of 40 percent of child sopport, 24,000.00 of which he couldn't afford in addition to the child support, but there is 9 percent interest on the debt, so we will never get the debt paid off. And when we moved our bank accound was shut down- becase the nine percent interest just keeps growing. We do not a bank account- yet my husband and I are both directors.
Family court is a modern day evil. Separating children from family is evil. I worked church leaders and nuns who say the same thing.
But our family endures and is guided by love and God.
What else can we do?
My husband is a vet.

Mrs.L in NY

Sarah - posted on 07/28/2010

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At the end of the day, you need to do some research about the laws in Hawaii, since that is where you are... I can tell you how it is in California all day long, but that isn't going to do you a darn bit of good. I don't think it is incredibly likely that you will get Full Legal Custody of your child any time soon. In CA, the noncustodial parent must not contact the child in any way for more than 18 months. So, as long as my ex sends at least a card or call on my daughter's birthday, we have joint custody. When it comes time for your hubby to be stationed somewhere else, you will have to go to court and show that you have reason to need to move, which you do. At that point, your non custodial parent (in California) will be granted visitation in a different way than he has now, like you might be required to have a video conference for the child and father once a week and split the cost of the child flying back to where the father is 2 times a year or what not...

It's an all around miserable situation fighting over custody. The only real advice I can give you is this: NEVER go to court without an attorney when you are up against someone with an attorney. Please find someone you can afford, or half afford, or get a loan, or save some money. Unless you are an attorney, you will get screwed if you go to court against an attorney without one to fight for you... I wish it wasn't the truth, but I sincerely think it is.

Huggles!!
~Sarah~

LA - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'm in canada and unaware of the laws in your area but I do find it disturbing that you have chosen to get advice for such a delicate situation in such a forum. Your daughter will grow up one day and have access to this very public display of your circumstances. Many resources exist for correct factual information regarding legal processes and as a mother that has personally experienced a child custody matter the best advice I can give you is to read up on the current laws for your state and access the family law information centres available to you. Act dilligently when issues like this arise otherwise you might be seen as neglectful. Best of luck !

Cynthia - posted on 07/28/2010

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You should be able to check your custody award papers as to what you can and can't do, and you should also be able to ask your lawyer also without cost. Doesn't the cost factor only come in if the lawyer acts on your behalf?

You should also ask if you need to file for custody everytime you change your state or country of abode.

In our family a relatives ex moved out of province, when she got the kids for their annual summer vacation one year she filed for custody in that province, as well as a restraining order preventing him from taking them home with him at the end of the summer as he had done for the previous six years! This occurred because he prevented her from refiling for the government child benefit she was never supposed to have had as a non custodial parent.

Be careful if your ex has left his job he may file for custodial and support payements from you now that you are returning to work, There is no way around this you must go back to your lawyer to secure your custodial care. Document everything you have done with dates and times.

I don't see why you can't move your childs school to one closer to your residence, you are the custodial parent. If your child care arrangements are solid, convenient for you and your child, your ex shouldn't be able to overturn your custodial care. Having to drive 30 to 60 minutes to another communty for your childs daycare just because its convenient for him is ridiculous. Meeting half way to exchange the child for visiting times would be more caring of the child.

Ellen - posted on 07/28/2010

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I agree, Jacqueline....children need both parents. However, I think if one of the parents is being difficult, immature, not contributing..then they should lose some rights and abilities as parents. My ex is....decent...but he is often selfish and it had hurt my children far too many times. I feel badly for the deserving fathers who TRY TRY TRY to see their children and will sacrifice anything for them while dealing with nasty ex wives. And I also feel for the women who deal with dead-beat dads who make their lives difficult for no good reason.

It's about the kids. They shouldn't have to deal with any of their parent's issues. It's bad enough their parents didn't make the marriage work and they are stuck with having to go back and forth.

Jacqueline - posted on 07/28/2010

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I am a mother whose husband is going through a very rough and difficult separation from his children, only due to the ex-wife. We have joint custody and should be able to see our older children freely. Why would you want to have full custody. Children need their biological father in thier life. Do what ever it take to keep the children involved in both parent's lives. Or be selfish and your children will resent you when they get older. Family compositions are changing where kids will identify with step fathers and step mother's but do not keep a child from either biological mom/or dad. Mrs. L in NY

Ellen - posted on 07/28/2010

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First off, I know how awful it can be dealing with an ex - I have one too. We have three children together and were married for almost a decade. It's rough, especially if your ex is difficult on purpose. I am remarried, also to a man in the military. Like you, I have full physical custody but share educational and other decisions. I have full decision-making in religion only - thank goodness I at least have that!!

You have your child in your care the majority of the time. It seems to me that you should just go ahead and do whatever you want. Make the decisions that suit your needs, schedule and life. Our exes have no clue what it's like to parent on a daily basis. They are not in the "trenches" of parenthood and personally I do not think they have as much right in the day-to-day decision-making. What would happen if you go ahead and make the decisions yourself? Just do what works for you and your new family. If you aren't putting your child in harm's way then I don't see how a court would listen to what an every-other-weekend part/time parent has to say about it. Especially because you are married - you are a family - and you have a future in moving away together. The family unit is much stronger than a single parent...especially if your ex is simply dating around and living a life full of freedom and low responsibility.

There is a great deal of unfairness in divorce. It is sad. My advice to you would be: make sure you never involve your child in the goings on between you and your ex. They do not need to hear any arguments or know about any legal battles...or even the remarks you speak under your breath in frustration. When they are grown and look back on their childhood, they will remember the parent that was kind and respectful. Too many kids are messed up because they are caught in the crossfire and it's not fair to them.

Best of luck to you. It's such an emotional drain. I hope whatever happens works out to be the best for everyone involved...but especially your child.

P.S. Is there any way you can stay home with your child to avoid the battles with your ex and save on day care costs? Like i said, my husband is military - about to be deployed even - and we have FOUR children. I stay at home. If you can do that, you'll save tons of money and heartache...not to mention give your child more of their mommy, which is priceless. :o) It may mean giving up some "fun"things like going out to eat, fancier cars, clothing, etc - but cutting back so that you can be home is a wonderful thing. :o)

Patty - posted on 07/28/2010

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Hi Jenny, I would have to very much agree with the previous post from Amy, since the child resides with you and the bio father has visitation you should basically be calling the shots.. the courts look at whats in the best interest of the child. I suggest you make an application to the court simply saying you've asked for mediation with your ex-spouse and he is non compliant. Since you currently have an order in place that you must mediate, your husband is breaking a court order. Once you put forth an application to the court, you will be able to tell your concerns to the Judge at that point he/she will make the decissions for you. You could apply for legal aid, which will benefit you greatly, having a lawyer present in these battles is always a good way to go. Get documents from your daughters school stating what they currently have your address on file. Since your ex husband wants to be involved in your daughters life it would be very hard to get sole custody with no visitation. I wish you all the best, keep fighting, sometimes it takes years.

Kristie - posted on 07/28/2010

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1 about this Mediation is REQUIRED!! If he doesn't do it then he's in contempt of court which you can make him pay your lawyer fees. The other thing which the mil. Is that you MUST get a lawyer. Mil. lawyer's can be very dirty and work through the system with who knows who type of thing. My ex did that to me when he came home from Iraq. He only married me for the mil. bouns while he was over there and that's the only reason we got married. I was worth $15000.00 then he wanted me dead. Still the mil said it was OK. SO protect yourself and your child fight for them no matter what like they do in the mil. You can apply for a court apt att. and pray their good. You will also have to take kids int he middle classes so sign up for those ASAP to show your proactive. Hope this helps and I'll pray for you.

Alex - posted on 07/28/2010

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Change schools do whats best for your daughter- Ie not having to wake her up at 5 am to get her to school. Let him go to court after you change schools- to fight you- and then say you tried to do mediation and he refused and its all about whats best for your daughter and last time i checked its not good to wake a 4 year old at 5 am she needs her sleep.

Brandy - posted on 07/28/2010

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shame on you for wanting to change your daughters life for your own convience. She should have stable enviroments and with all the recent changes you've already put her through ( move and new father figure) you should leave things the way they are for now. Too much change will stress her and the relationship you have with her father..weather you care or not you'll have forever not just till your child is 18. So what if you have to get up earlier and take shorter lunches whatever...keep her in some fimilar surroundings for a while. Keep trying to get the mediation set; sounds like you will need it for the upcomming relocation.

Stephanie - posted on 07/28/2010

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Physical custody does not guarantee that a child moves with the custodial parent. I have physical custody of my boys, and my ex has filed a petition to prevent the boys moving with me. If I lose my case, my alternative will be to give him custody if I'm unwilling to stay here. It's not as easy as some might think. If the ex wants to stop you from taking the child away from him, it is possible to block you. My advice remains the same: Get a lawyer ASAP.

We can all tell you our stories till the cows come home, but ultimately the only advice you should listen to is from a lawyer specializing in Family Law. They're really the only ones qualified to give it.

Good luck... and really, get a lawyer.

Kayla - posted on 07/28/2010

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Yes, YOU get to choose where she goes to school since she lives with you. If she were in public school, she would have had to change schools to whatever district you moved into. And yes, since you have physical, she goes with you when you move. Read over your custody agreement with a fine tooth comb and it should have your ex's visitation in the case of living under and over 100 miles apart. But also check and see if there is any geographical limitations on how far you can move from him... some states require that, but I don't know the specifics for Hawaii law. Go to your local law library and read the family code to help you understand the law and your rights since you can't afford an attorney. An attorney may give you a break on fees if you understand the law and can do most of the work yourself to get a modification to your existing custody agreement. And above all else, DON"T LET YOUR EX INTIMIDATE YOU INTO DOING WHATEVER HE WANTS all the time... you have possession of the child and that gives you the upper hand! Good luck!

Bettina - posted on 07/28/2010

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you can't make any parent see their child and if they don't then that situation is what it is and of course that parent should not be at all in control, but if a parent is supporting their child and wants to be a part of their lives then they should be able to have equal say and see them much more than a few days a month. My husband begs and pleads to see his daughter more, he has never been late with support and he had to take the mother to court because she stopped letting him see his daughter when I came into the picture. My husband pays for 75% of his daughters "bills" but gets to see her only for 4 overnights and 4 four hour visits a month. It just isn't right especially since we have more income, better school district, we are married while she has a live in boyfriend and the list could go on. I just wish things were a bit more even for the good guys out there.

Tiffany - posted on 07/28/2010

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he sounds like a control freak. don't let him manipulate you anymore. YOU are her mother, she is with YOU most of the time and YOU know what's best for her. don't let him tell you otherwise. legally, YOU have the upper hand NOT him. you have full physical custody and a job which shows stability. haul his ass back to court while he has no $$...strike while he's vulnerable. i went through this before. the ex was not reasonable at all and very controling. we smacked him down in court and it was well worth it because now my daughter goes to the same school as her step brother and all her friends on our street instead of driving 45 min round trip to take her to school by his house. calander all of your time with her and document all converstations by communicating thru txt or email. let him burry himself; ask him through txt/email about mediation, the school, etc. this is one way you can show the court that he extremely controling and unreasonable, refusing to go to mediation. YOU have to build your case not the lawyer. have him served and stick to your guns. DON'T WAIVER! GOOD LUCK! btw, i think it's yucky he quit all his jobs so he wouldn't have to pay child support...shows his lack of character.

Gerri - posted on 07/28/2010

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I am almost positive that you will have to file a motion with the court for a change in custody, and along with that the burden of proof will be on you. You will have to prove a material change in circumstances. I'm a non-custodial mom and I'm going back to court in a few weeks for sole custody. Bottom line, get a lawyer. Legal Aid or otherwise. Good luck!

Melissa - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'd also like to add that civilians don't understand what it is like to be married to someone in the military, and all the hoops you have to jump through. I see people getting mad that you want to move to be with your husband. That is his career. It's not like you are never going to let your ex see his daughter again. Again, it's not something any civilian would understand.

Melissa - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'm sorry Jenny, but you REALLY need to talk to an attorney who is experienced in your state's laws. What these people are posting may be true for their personal situations in their state, but isn't true for yours. Every situation is judged differently in court.

I am going through a similar situation. My ex and I broke up while he was overseas as he couldn't stay faithful. Now he served me with papers and is doing a lot of things over spite when he hides behind the saying "in the best interests of our daughter." I am engaged to other man and about to be married, our whole relationship I have been stuck under the temporary order that I cannot move more than 60 miles away. My fiance lives out of state and is also Active Duty Army. It has been since Feb that this custody issue was started and I still have only been to mediation - no court dates yet. In my state, the judge cannot grant joint custody unless BOTH parties agree. We don't currently have any type of written custody agreement other than he sees her a total of 9 hours a week, otherwise she solely lives with me. He never calls to ask how she is, never asked to skype when we were still together and he was in Iraq. I have proposed various agreements where I would absorb all transportation costs for him to see her whenever he wants. He refuses.He pays child support "under the table" whenever he has the money to do so.

Me moving would be in her best interests, because I could remain a stay at home mother (and live in a house with my husband who has a stable job in the Army) rather than remaining living with my parents, moving out, alone, and trying to find a full-time job to support myself and put my daughter in day-care. My ex is National Guard and could deploy and has training. You just have to show it's in the child's best interests.

Again, you need to research your own state laws, or consult an attorney. On the petition for custody papers I was served with, there was a number you could call that refers you to attorneys for a free consultation. That should give you more definite answers than this, where everyone is just saying what is true for them.

Also, I don't think you should feel bad at all for trying to make YOUR life better and better for your daughter. I think it's very rude that some people just pass judgments and jump to conclusions saying that you're selfish. Sometimes you fall in love with people who don't make things the most convenient, you just have to know what you want and what's best for your family. And with military relationships, things get sticky, which is unfortunate.

Debbie - posted on 07/28/2010

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For all parents, please look up the def. of joint legal custody. It does include school, church, activities and such things as doctors. I have physical custody of 2 children (16 & 7) and joint legal on one. I father doesn't care and has never made a decision about his daughter; I handle all matters. The other father stops me at every move, even so far as to call our child's doctor's and change his appointments because he doesn't like the time. It's very touchy, but the other parent has every right under joint legal to make a decision, unless otherwise stipulated in court papers. On the later child it was domestic abuse/assualt and the father still received joint legal.

Laura - posted on 07/28/2010

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I am sorry but I have to disagree with Sara and Carolyn because I dont believe that both parents do have a right to say what happens. My sons bio father hasnt been around since he was 2 weeks old. I can say for a fact that if he were to come back after 4 years and tell me what to do with my son. He wouldnt be talkin for long. My sister has had to deal with that kind of thing but the bio father is the one who moved and has gotten his child support dropped so many times and he still makes more than enough money. He got remarried and has another child with his new wife. Plus he only sees his kids when he wants not when the court said he could which was everyother weekend and everyother holiday. So on that note I surely dont agree with Sara and Carolyn.

Fara Dawn - posted on 07/28/2010

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I am just going through the mess of divorce/ legal custody issues. according to my lawyer, the person with physical custody has the final legal decision making power when there is a dissagreement. Physical custody gives you most of the power. And yes, if you have physical custody, she goes with you, wherever you live.

Stephanie - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'm in PA, and each state has it's own laws regarding custody. But Rule #1 is NEVER go to court without an attorney when he has one. Doing anything else is just going to work against you.
Second, I was told by my attorney that to get full legal custody you'd really have to prove the ex it totally horrible... like a murderer or something. So... I go to court every time I try to make a decision for the kids. He makes everything difficult. And expensive. It's hard, but I'd give up on trying to get full legal custody as long as you have full physical custody.
Right now, I'm graduating from college and trying to move across the country. I have a real battle on my hands. Ultimately, what the options will be are that I can move with the children, or I can move but not take the children with me. You may be in the same boat, but you REALLY need an attorney. See what kind of free services you're entitled to, but don't try it alone.
Good luck.

Tiffany - posted on 07/28/2010

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I know custody is a very hard to all who's involved, but I do hope that you and your ex can come to some agreement without taring the child away from the other parent. I read you last part about your now husband is in the military and may have to move away in a few years, and if that gives you the right if you have physical custody to move. Let me tell you something... You can not take the child over seas without the court or your child's father giving you permission to do so, that is the law no matter where you live. Plus I hardly think the court will allow you to move ever over seas... making even harder for the father to see his child. I'm sorry to sound harsh, but I'm being straight when I say... If you are going to move over seas with your now husband your going to have to give the child up to her father, because you will never be allowed to take the child unless your child is being abused by the father .. then maybe!

Erica - posted on 07/28/2010

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I read most of the posts on here.

I am twice divorced with children from both marriages. As much as you may dislike him, or think he is not fit to spend time with your daughter, he has a right to see her. It doesn't matter if he is currently paying his child support. My second ex husband didn't work for a year and currently owes over $15,000 in child support, but he still picked our girls up every other weekend. We don't like each other and talk as little as possible, it actually keeps the peace more than if we tried to talk. When we do it is only about the girls and nothing more, if it starts to get "heated" then the conversation is over. As far as needing to go to court to get things worked out, can I just say get over it. You both are parents and need to grow up, she is a person not an object or possession. I'm not saying one is better than the other, but be the better person even if he is difficult and try to be amicable. Don't engage in arguments, that's what he wants. If you act uninterested in his incessant need to drive you crazy, it will eventually fade an go away, you'll see. I had to do that. As far as the custody issue goes, with both of my exes I have full physical custody and joint legal custody.

Physical custody means that a parent has the right to have a child live with him or her. Joint physical custody works best if parents live relatively near to each other, as it lessens the stress on children and allows them to maintain a somewhat normal routine. Where the child lives primarily with one parent and has visitation with the other, generally the parent with whom the child primarily lives will have sole physical custody, with visitation to the other parent.

Legal custody means that having the right and the obligation to make decisions about a child's upbringing. A parent with legal custody can make decisions about schooling, religion, and medical care, for example. In many states, courts regularly award joint legal custody, which means that the decision making is shared by both parents.
If you share joint legal custody with the other parent and you exclude him or her from the decision-making process, your ex can take you back to court and ask the judge to enforce the custody agreement. You won't get fined or go to jail, but it will probably be embarrassing and cause more friction between the two of you -- which may harm the children. What's more, if you're represented by an attorney, it's sure to be expensive.
If you think you have circumstances that make it impossible to share joint legal custody (the other parent won't communicate with you about important matters or is abusive), you can go to court and ask for sole legal custody. But, in many states, joint legal custody is preferable, so you will have to convince a family court judge that it is not in the best interests of your child.

I will add, I hate that my daughters have to go to their dad's house. He doesn't do anything with them, they sit in front of the TV the whole time, have no rules, no bedroom of their own (his new wife has 4 daughters), no space to call their own. When he left me, he didn't contact the girls, didn't spend anytime with them. I actually had to beg him to see them because they missed him, he didn't care. I had to lie to them and say he was always working because I didn't want them to know he didn't want to see them. Finally, I stopped calling to ask him to see them and just assumed he was going to just fade away. When I started dating my current husband, he began questioning me about him (he was already in a new relationship, he had been cheating the last year of our marriage). Then he got a job and the support garnishments hit his paycheck. He was suddenly demanding that he get to see the girls every other weekend, I was completely ok with that. He tried to change custody last year, to reduce his support payments, but failed to follow through and now things are amicable between us. We'll never like each other, but for the sake of my girls, I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure they are happy. Which means, I have to put aside my feeling of his ineptness and remember they need to have their father in their life. Eventually they will see him for the person he truly is, my son has with his father (he's 15 now) and has chosen not to visit his dad as often as the court order says he should.

Sorry, for rambling. Be the bigger person and try to be as cooperative as possible, he'll just look like an ass for being so spiteful. Oh yeah, through all of the court hearings I've been through I've never had an attorney and things have always worked out. I was a young mother too, I had my oldest when I was 17 too. Good luck with your situation, I do feel for you and hope that things go well for you, your daughter and even her father.

Kristen - posted on 07/28/2010

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I am still going threw my divorce but am having problems with the soon to be ex. My lawyer told me that the best thing to do is for you to make the decision and if he doesnt like it then he can take you to court and in most cases that will take some time and the child has already been doing or going during that time and the judge will ask if it has hurt the child in any way and if it hasnt then he will side with you. But of course things could go the other way but I say you make the decision and let him have his fit and take you to court because you have tried to work with him and he wont work with you.

Georgianna - posted on 07/28/2010

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If your ex is in the military and you are divorced, I don't believe that they can help you. Only if you were military, or you weren't divorced yet, or you new spouse is military would they be able to help you. It's one of the "military benefits".

Dulcy - posted on 07/28/2010

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Jenny, you really should not go back to court without an experienced family law attorney. Also, I'm not sure why your ex can afford a good lawyer but cannot afford to pay you more in child support?? There are some well-meaning people posting replies to you on this forum, but they do not necessarily know what a judge would or would not do or what the law is. I would only take advice from a family law attorney who practices in your state (I am a Florida attorney who practices real estate and would not dream of offering you legal advice in this area because it is too important an issue to get wrong!).
Good luck and if you cannot afford a good attorney, call your local legal aid office for help.

Ginger - posted on 07/28/2010

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I have Primary residency of my son and I decide everything for my son I don't ask for my ex's input in anything not that he would ever offer it anyways but anyways my husband is also in the military and I had to move there shouldn't be any problem with you moving as long as he is okay with it and even tho it might be court ordered to do something you have to do what it best for your daughter and I'm getting the feeling that your ex is really only thinking of himself and still trying to have control over you and your daughter even tho he really doesn't. Point is put her where you would rather have her if he has a problem with it then he will take you up on the mediation.

Emily - posted on 07/28/2010

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THERE ARE DEFINATLY PRO-BONO LAWYERS THROUGH THE MILITARY. I AM A FORMER MILITARY SPOUSE IN A SIMILAR SITUATION, EXCEPT I HAVE FULL LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY AND WANT TO MOVE FROM CALI TO KAUAI! CHECK INTO THE MILITARY LAWYERS, THEY WILL DEFINT. BE ABLE TO HELP YOU OUT. GOOD LUCK!!!

Kathy - posted on 07/28/2010

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When my child was small, my ex got child support lowered because of a reduce in income, and I have a friend that just got his lowered because of a loss of a job...I live in Alabama...but my daughter's dad was trying to get her after not caring to even see her for the for the first 3 years of her life...she was crying and throwing up...I asked him if he would drop visitation if I dropped child support and he agreed...(this was 27 ears ago) He did not know her and did not love her, if he had gotten her he would not have been good to her, it was in her best interest...but the judge didn't seem to see that. When she was 16 she went back and got child support reinstated...until then I raised her alone, and we did just fine.

Heidi - posted on 07/28/2010

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I have seen so many reviews on here that would honestly be depressing to me if I were you. I have been on the other side of things and don't have custody of my 4 year old daughter. The judge will not make a decision based off of the fact that the father is in your daughters life. I was sole custodian til they took me to court and to this day cant tell you why I don't have her. From my experience this is what you should do.
1.Keep everything written down or recorded. Print text messages. Record things if he argues with you. And write every interaction you have with him in a journal.
2. You moving depends on your state laws but really he should meet half way as long as your not 2 hours away or it might go by miles but with your distance it should be half way. Check with your state guidelines.
3. Him not going through with mediation will look bad on his end in front of the judge. again get something recorded/written stating that he won't go
4. As for the school you need to do whats best for your daughter compare the schools and if the one closer to you is better show that to the judge it will only help you. For costs that should be split no matter what.
As far as I can see you are trying to keep the peace and he is trying to push your buttons (same situation i was in and still am). Don't ever let your daughter get out of your number one priority because sometimes its easy to just let your anger out towards her father. Custody use to be so easy for mother's to get but now we have to fight as much as they do or even more in some states. I know there are good fathers out there but to me you should also be a decent person to the mother in order for you to get custody as a father.
I would look up your state guidelines/parenting times and see what you can do on your own but would get an attorney before going to court. The more you do on your own the less your attorney charges are but would advise you not to walk in the court room without an attorney or with a bad one (like mine!).
Keep trying and have faith that it will all work out and best of luck to you!

Deane - posted on 07/28/2010

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As a mother and step-mother who have been through the court systems, I have to agree with your ex. It seems to me that your decisions have been based on what is best for you and not what is best for your daughter. "benefit me" is not the best interest of the child and that should be your biggest concern. The best interest of the kid is have contact with both parents. Does your custody order have any provisions about you moving, if it does you can bet that you won't be making that move and keeping your daughter. If not, I would expect your ex to file a motion to keep you from moving his daughter away. I definitely would and more than likely he will win. The judge will tell you that you can move but not with the child.
And when you say "It's basically taring up my life because I pretty much have to accommodate him and I get no say no matter what I do" I take it that he is going by the court order giving him those rights and provisions and you just don't like them. If I were the non-custodial parent to my children I wouldn't budge an inch on any time that I an allowed to see them. You have her the majority of the time and it is in her best interest to have a substancial relationship with her father. Unless there are underlying issues that you haven't mentioned besides that fact that it isn't convenient for you.
Sometimes being a parent that put the interest of their child first is hard.

The part that confuses me about your post is you say you have full physical but you have to meet him. Does he have court ordered visitation? Is so wouldn't that be joint physical with you having the right to determine residence?

Jamie - posted on 07/28/2010

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Jenny Ray,

I am on another island and all I can say is congratulations on even getting full physical custody. I don't know how it is there but here the dad would have to actually show up in court drunk, holding a crack pipe and cussing at the judge to get anything less than joint custody. It may be different on O'ahu, I don't know. But I wouldn't hold your breath (or invest much money) in a battle for full legal custody. It is extremely difficult to get most anywhere anymore, I think - you have to have extenuating circumstances. I don't know what you'd have to show in order to get full legal...that he is incapacitated, I suppose. Simply being obstinate about this issue probably won't suffice. He is entitled to have his own opinion about what is best for her.

Regarding your move in a few years it will help a lot that you have full physical custody and that he doesn't have her more (like half the time). In order to be able to take her you will have to show that you will be able to maintain their relationship. You will have to have a visitation plan. This is important regardless of how it impacts your case. Dads DO matter. But be forewarned that some wacky things have happened on the islands, including transferring custody to the non-relocating parent so as to not disrupt the child's life with a move. By then she will be in school and he can argue that she has an established life here. You will probably want to consult a lawyer on that one as the time draws near. And get a good one.

Regarding your issue at hand you will have to show that what you are wanting to do is in her best interest. Be generous with him and whatever you do don't make it look like you're trying to edge him out of her life. Make sure you both demonstrate and really ARE wanting to make sure their relationship is not disrupted. I think meeting halfway is the norm so you can at the very least ask the judge to allow you to move the meeting place. That's totally fair. Even though you moved, you should not have to do all the driving.

Does he know that you are planning on moving? Expect a battle. If he is saying he wants joint custody be forewarned that all he may have to do is ask and he will get it. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but that IS the norm here. And if he gets that he will have a stronger point from which to argue against the move. He can also ask for more time and get it. You may just want to lay low and allow things to go on as they are so that when you want to relocate you are in a stronger position. I don't know...it's so tricky. I agree you may want to consult with Legal Aid.

Good luck and please let us know what happens.

Misty - posted on 07/28/2010

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Well, maybe being with him was not in the best childs interest and maybe the court saw it that way. As a step parent you need to separate yourself from the situation and not get involved. It is not your child nor is it any of your business and that is probably what the psychologist said. I admire step parents don't get me wrong, but my daughter has one who interfered and did everything to get what she wanted and not what my daughter needed.

Molly - posted on 07/28/2010

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Leila my ex is in Montgomery County and I am in Minnesota, I have just filed for custody there. did you have an atty and if so can i have their name and number. my email is molly.rowand@gmail.com

Leila - posted on 07/28/2010

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I'm in Maryland, and my daughter's father is a registered child sex offender. I have sole physical and legal custody but I am NOT allowed to even move her from the county we live in because he was granted visitation (he is on probation; she was one of his victims.) I can move anywhere I want to, but if I move her I was told it would be "kidnapping". An non-custodial parent who retains parental rights actually has a very strong chance of gettign what he wants in court because the courts tend to follow the "best interests of the child" and assume that "best interests" means maintaining contact with the noncustodial parent. The states all vary in how their laws are written and treated. Having a lawyer willing to fight for your wants is the best thing to have. If you file on your own, the pro se section of the court house should be able to help you file correctly. Unfortunately, as my lawyer explained to me, once the courts give a noncustodial parent certain rights they are loathe to remove them without a huge amount of evidence those rights need to be removed. Since your ex shares legal custody with you, it is highly unlikely the courts will remove his legal custody at all. They might agree to a different arrangement, however. It'd be best if you can find a lawyer who will work to get you what you want, but also make sure you know what is reasonable to ask for or how to ask for it considering what judge you will be before (judges have their particularities.)

Tasha - posted on 07/28/2010

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Every State has different laws. Before you just up and move her make sure you are not going to go against his legal rights by up and taking her and then seeing how he deals. Sometimes shared legal is not just letting the other parent know. Be very careful in how you move forward on this. IF he does decide to take you to court you could end up having to move her back to her old school which could be difficult for her. Take a deep breath and evaluate this situation with a clear head, quick decisions could come back and bite you in the butt!

Molly - posted on 07/28/2010

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and even if you do move out of the state you still just have to keep him informed!

Melissa - posted on 07/28/2010

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As long as you didn't move out of state, you can send your daughter wherever you want too! You have full physical custody and can make those decisions. Legal joint custody only makes you have to tell him of changes. Go to court house and file a motion and he will have to attend mediation. Also if he doesn't work he can commute farther to see her. I am in the same boat as you! Good luck!

Molly - posted on 07/28/2010

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Let me just say I lost custody of my 2year old due to the fact that my current husband and i were not married yet but living together with our 5 month old daughter together. If you have her more than he does and she needs to be in school near you put her in that school and let him pay to take it back to court and when you respond to the court tell them that since she lives with you most of the time it is better for her to be in daycare and or school near her main home. That it isn't good for her to have to be up that early just to go to her old school! unfortunately sometimes you have to be sneaky!

Tasha - posted on 07/28/2010

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I live in Utah so the laws may be different. One of the laws that may help you if it is the same in Hawaii is even with joint legal is even if mediation is court ordered, whomever has full physical usually has final say.
Now in order to get full custody including full legal is going to be difficult because there is nothing standing out in a negative way against either of you. If you want to fight him for it then I would HIGHLY suggest getting an attorney. There are some things simple enough to do with out an attorney but that is not one of them. You just really need to find out from an attorney what your rights are. I know its expensive however I would not take this to court by yourself. Good Luck with everything.

Vicky - posted on 07/28/2010

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I would bribe him. Provide a cash incentive by returning the cost of gas money it would cost him to drive the daughter to you when he picks her up at daycare on time. BUT, only ask him to drive her on specific days, say Mondays, and Fridays. You have to pick her/meet up with him the remaining days. Ask for, or use gas receipts to figure out the correct amount to prevent arguments. I'm betting he'll bargain for more money, but at least you are leading him towards really helping you! Remind him that walking home/meeting place is bonding time and excellent exercise. Encourage him to keep her company for an hour or so. Visit a firestation, park or library.

Vickie - posted on 07/28/2010

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If you have full physical custody then she lives with you wherever that may be. As far as him helping to make decisions because of joint legal custody, as long as you have tried to get him to go to mediation and have proof that he has refused then do what is best for her and you. I would make a mediation appt. and let him know about it, then you go and if he doesn't show up then get a written statement that he didn't show so you have the proof right there. Then do what is best for both of you.

Elizabeth - posted on 07/28/2010

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now wat if you are in my case to where her father never sees her at all could i still apply for full/sole custody???

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