Joint Custody isn't for everyone

Stephanie - posted on 01/05/2016 ( 7 moms have responded )





My name is Stephanie and I am a 23 year old mother to an amazing 5 year old little boy. My ex and I were together for about 6 years when we split up. We decided at that time to remain completely civil and arrange for joint custody (week on/week off basis).

In the beginning it was a verbal agreement between him and I, and there were no issues. One day at 6 AM I heard a knock on the door, much to my surprise, I was being served papers for his father to have custody. I thought that I was loosing my child and I nearly had a complete break down. With no money to my name... I still had no option but to hire a lawyer and started my end of the process.

In the end the joint custody was still arranged and I was somewhat relieved at that moment... That was nearly 7 months ago. Now I am regretting even agreeing to that. I am depressed so much of the time because I don't get to see my little boy everyday, like I had for the first 5 years of him life. I see him for a week at a time and then POOF he's gone. Back to dad's and I have no idea what he does while he's there, what he learns, who he is interacted with. He comes back to my house so defiant. I get him back, get him back on track of listening and paying attention to rules and having structure... and he goes right back to his dad's to learn that his past behavior is okay and he forgets all that he had learned at my house. It's so frustrating because I am so excited that he is there.. But at the same time it is so defeating to have the same battles over and over again until the day before he goes back... Just to have it all forgotten.

I don't know what to do. I don't know my options. I don't even know where to begin. But I do know, I want to fight to be able to see my sweet boy more often, at the very least.

Has anyone dealt with this? Do I have options? I don't want to take him away from his dad. But that boy needs me just as badly as I do him..



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♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 01/05/2016




Perhaps counseling would help you adhere to your new situation.

This did not happen overnight. You admit that the agreement that was handed down in court mirrored the verbal agreement you had previously, so you were already week on/week off.

Your job is to parent. Teach your son that the different homes mean different rules. He's human, he can adapt. I promise, he's not the first kid in this situation! As far as you not knowing "what happens" when he's with his you give his dad a minute by minute itinerary of what YOU are going to do on your week? a list of who the boy interacts with when he's with you? See where I'm going with that...?

Joint custody is best for the KIDS. The ones who have the right to have BOTH parents in their lives, regardless of how well they do or do not interact with each other. The boy needs BOTH of his parents. Not just one. Yes, plenty of singles have done it without a spouse or partner, but you can pretty much bet that most of them will tell you that it would have been easier if co-parenting could have been achieved.

Michelle - posted on 01/05/2016




I have co parented for over 10 year and did have the same problems. My boys did learn that there were different rules at each house though. I just had to remind them that they were back with me and what the rules were. They are now 14.5 and almost 12 and they are very well mannered and well behaved young men.
Yes, I know it's hard when the child is at the other house but your son has as much right to spend time with his Father as he does with you.
I suggest finding a club or hobby that you can do when he is at Dad's house. Use the time to find yourself and what makes you happy.

Dove - posted on 01/05/2016




I have to agree w/ Jodi. This is still a fairly new arrangement for all of you, so give it time. Your son will learn that he has different expectations between the two households and eventually he'll stop giving you so much hassle about it. You might want to consider a bit of counseling for the time being to help BOTH of you out.

Your son needs his father. Your son needs his mother. He still has both of you pretty equally and that's how it should be for HIS sake.

Jodi - posted on 01/05/2016




So what you are actually saying is that joint custody isn't for YOU because YOU don't like it. Guess what? Your son has 2 parents and is entitled to spend equal time with both of them. Do you think turning up in court and arguing that you don't like being apart from your little boy and you don't like that he has different rules in his dad's home is actually going to make a difference? It won't.

Basically, you make a baby with someone and you have to coparent with that person for 18 years. He doesn't have to comply with your wishes about his parenting. His home, his rules, your home, your rules. Maybe he doesn't like your rules? Who knows? How would you feel if he came to you and said, look, I don't like your rules because my son comes home acting differently every week, so you have to change the way you parent? You wouldn't.

Solution? You make it very clear to your son what the rules are in your house. He's only 5. He will eventually figure it out - it won't be like this forever. Let me assure you, even if he only had weekends with dad, or even every second weekend, he will still come home behaving differently. They grow out of it if you are consistent in your home. It is very normal for a child to initially be a little out of sorts. From memory, my son was about 7 when this kind of behaviour stopped and he was truly able to switch from one set of household rules to the other set. Kids don't switch from one to the other easily - there is a natural transition (which is what you are experiencing). He will get better at it.

Raye - posted on 01/05/2016




Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you really have no control over what happens at this father's. And I know that it makes it harder to deal with sometimes during the time you do have to spend time with your son (I am a step-mom, and it's hard on my step-kids to get shuffled back and forth, and hard on us with the lack of consistency). If you try too hard to intrude on the father's time (calling for no reason except you miss your son, or making up really insignificant excuses to call, etc.) then I can see why your ex might push back (although wanting to wish a Merry Christmas is not unreasonable). Maybe you could make an arrangement that you may call twice a week at 8:30pm to say goodnight, and all other communication would be only if there's an emergency or something your ex really needs to know. If there are daily happenings that you would not tell the ex when you have your son, you can't expect him to keep you informed on those type of things when he has his son. You have to let things go. Yes, your son may need you. But he needs his daddy, too.

You also should try not let your son see how distraught/needy you are. It would be harder on him, and may make him feel like he has to choose sides. He won't want to disappoint either of his parents, and his confusion and frustration will probably cause him to act out even more. Kids usually think of themselves as they really are... half of each of their parents. So, if you act like his father is bad, or him being with his father is bad, then the boy may start to feel like he himself is bad too. Again, that could have the opposite effect of what you want and make things more difficult with your son too, because it would be making him feel bad. Your son should not be caught in the middle of a power struggle. The stress on all of you isn't worth it.

Stephanie - posted on 01/05/2016




I would never say the he is bad father or a bad parent. He just chooses to use discipline VERY lightly. Its a battle we had when we were together and one we will continue to have. I'm afraid to mention anything now. I can't afford another lawyer or to go back through the court process... And I feel like that would be his step if I were to say anything.

His father has become so stubborn and angry towards me. This Christmas was his holiday to have him. Not only did I not get to see and enjoy my son on Christmas but he wouldn't even let me speak him. I was completely ignored until the next day when I was arranged to get him.

I have been thinking about letting him speak with a counselor, I just don't want to overwhelm him. He has gone through so much in the past year.

Raye - posted on 01/05/2016




Have you talked to his father about the differences in house rules making it more difficult for the boy? Don't go accusing him of being a bad parent, but you should be able to express concerns and both have the boy's best interests at heart. You should be able to come up with similar house rules (it doesn't have to be exactly the same, but there should be some kind of structure in both houses).

If you don't like the custody agreement, and you have evidence that the arrangement is detrimental to the boy (maybe have him evaluated by a counselor and have the counselor speak in court), then you should go back to court to change the orders.

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