Single Parents

new here, need custody advice!

Long story short because I keep losing my connection: single mom, BD has never paid for a single thing for DD, now he wants 50/50 custody.
I'm not okay with it for many reasons, mainly because she has what I'm concerned are night terrors and wakes screaming. He has never gotten up for her, not one single time. Even if he's still awake and I'm asleep, he still will not go in to console her during her episodes. He wants overnights and it makes me uncomfortable. He's moving home with his mom who I am certain will be the one to get up with DD, and that is also not okay because she is not the parent.

My question is: do you think a judge will rule in his favor? Will I have to agree to this arrangement(and most likely forfeit child
I'm sorry this is so vague, I keep getting kicked off! I'll answer any questions you have for me, I'd just appreciate any thoughts!

Re: new here, need custody advice!

  • Hmm... I'm not experienced with this as my BD left and vanished.  However, I don't believe a judge will automatically give him 50/50 custody, especially if you tell the judge your concerns.  I would look for a family attorney with a free consult near you to go over what your options are.  Good luck! I wish I was more helpful!
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  • There's so much this depends on- DD's age, what state you live in, the custody arrangement to date, etc. I haven't been through the courts myself, but from what I've seen where I live, I think the courts do give 50/50 if each parent wants at least that much for him- or herself unless there are special circumstances. Alternately, preserving the status quo also seems common, unless it's been uneven (like one parent never gets overnights), or otherwise isn't in the child's best interest. So from what I've seen, I'd be surprised if he didn't get overnights and at least close to 50/50 custody if that's what he's asking for and there aren't extenuating circumstances (like DD's a breastfeeding infant or he lives too far away to reasonably share custody that way). You don't have to agree, it will be a court order. it sounds like the night terrors are a mom-diagnosed condition at this point, and if there's no medical record he can easily refute that she even has that condition. Also, just googling it I see from the Mayo clinic that night terrors don't hurt the child and the recommended treatment is to do nothing during the night, and just practice good sleep hygiene in general, so there's nothing objectively wrong with how he handles it, you two just disagree. Moving in with his family to provide extra support for your DD will be seen as a positive thing, btw.

    So what is it that you (reasonably) want? For DD to have comfort during her episodes? it sounds like you believe grandma will offer that. Child support? if you make significantly less than BD, you may still get some even with 50/50 custody. 

    The judge's job is to create a plan that's in the child's best interest. that generally means having consistent and frequent contact with both parents. As hard as it is to believe, "best interest" usually doesn't mean who serves the healthiest foods or lives in the nicer home or even who follows the best parenting-expert-approved discipline and parenting style. It's about how this child will be able to have healthy, stong relationships with BOTH her parents. Each parent, regardless of their X or Y chromosomes, has equal right to parent their child. anything that changes that equality has to be pretty significant. So prepare yourself for joint custody, mostly because that IS what benefits your DD the most long-term, and work on building a great co-parenting relationship with BD. 
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  • You'll have to come up with something better than that, if you want custody. You'll have to prove her father to be unfit, which is quite a process, and I suspect that he is fit. You say that you are concerned for many reasons, but really only stated one. What are your other concerns? By the way, I speak from experience, having gone through this situation myself. My ex was on meth, wouldn't hold down a job, had several evictions, had never paid a dime of court ordered child support, didn't have a drivers license, kept getting arrested, and had been to prison TWICE, and I still had to get an attorney and fight for a year and a half before our judge FINALLY awarded me full custody. 

    If he is a good father, let him be in her life as much as he wants to be. I see firsthand the damage that having an absent father does to a child's heart and mind. Your daughter deserves to be supported and loved by both of you. Don't rob her of someone who is absolutely VITAL to her existence, if he isn't a danger to her.
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