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Children living primarily with father

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Does anyone else have to deal with this?

When I left my ex-husband I was in this mode of "There's no way I'm asking for alimony," well looking back I wish I would have. When we went to court for custody I had no steady home and no job...so I had to make by far the hardest decision of my life and choose to let him have primary custody (we still have joint). I could have taken him to court and more than likely been awarded primary since I was living with my mom and she was (very) temporarily supporting me...but I didn't want to put them through that kind of situation since I didn't know how steady it would be and I would have had no money to get them necessities. Plus as much as their father was horrible to me, he's always been an absolute sweetheart to the kids and after our separation we've actually been able to get along and be friends. He's a nice guy, we just were NOT meant for each other and it ended it lots of fighting that was terrible for our relationship.

Anyways I don't know if anyone else has to go through this, but it's hard on my emotions and I'm just trying to find some support <3
post #2 of 20
Hi there,

I'm chiming in from the stepmom perspective. DSD has been living with us for the past three years. She loves her mom a whole lot. Really, the woman can do no wrong! I think a parent and a child share an incredible bond, and as long as you are a consistent presence in your kids' life, you don't need to worry. They are loved, they are cared for, and will will love and care for you. Hang in there, I can only imagine things not being easy.

It will be okay s
post #3 of 20
Like Oriole, my husband has custody of his child from before. (So, see? Dad being the primary custodian happens in other families, too. You're far from alone.)

I'm sure it must be very difficult for you, emotionally. It's tough for good dads, when the mom has custody. But they don't have to deal with the same social history and pressure that non-custodial mothers do. For generations, there's been a presumption that kids should be primarily with their mom. But, of course, kids should be in the best, most stable situation, regardless which gender parent can provide it. And a good parent makes decisions with the kids' needs foremost in their mind, instead of "how it will look" if they agree for the other parent to have custody. I'm not saying your kids would have suffered, living with you at your mom's. But maybe they would have suffered, if there had been a big custody battle, while your ex tried to convince the court they'd be better off with him. Regardless, you made the decision you thought would be best for them and that was selfless, loving and what a good mother does. And your ability to maintain a good relationship with your ex, in spite of whatever uncomfortable feelings you may have about the custodial arrangement, is extremely adult of you, and invaluable to your kids.

I wish to heck my step-son's mother were so considerate of his best interests! She had custody for years and, to listen to her, you'd think her entire world and all her decisions revolved around selfless, unconditional motherly love. She's very good at the verbage. But when she and my husband broke up, she wanted DSS to break up with him, too - as a sign that he loved her. No consideration of how the father-son relationship differed from her relationship with my husband (something you could see). When she wanted a psychiatrist to back her up, she took DSS to see one and told him to lie. When she wanted a new life in a trendy, urban area across the country - where she could only afford a tiny, studio apartment and one bed - she followed her dream and told DSS to lie and tell his dad they were living in a 4-bedroom house. No consideration of how he'd feel about lying...or whether the new digs were appropriate for him. Now that my husband has custody, she doesn't visit much. She won't step foot in DSS's school. All her energy goes into pushing him to say he wants to move back with her. No consideration for how hard another upheaval would be for him; or that it would still leave HIM across the country from one parent (it would only fix everything for HER); or that maybe SHE should move back and be involved in his daily life again.

Not to hijack your post, but while I can't empathize with being a non-custodial mom, I CAN tell you it sounds like you're doing a remarkable job of it and that your attitudes and priorities are spot-on...and I can make you feel better, with this example of a woman who's not doing it right. Surely you see that the way you've handled things is infinitely harder, more mature and more loving.
post #4 of 20
just wanted to offer hugs, and I hope that you're children are still able to see you often, and on a regular basis I don't know that I feel particularly strong over which parent has custody of a child, but I do believe very strongly that both parents should actively engage in the raising of the children - I hope that you are amicably co-parenting!
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks ladies <3
Today is a hard day for me. My ex is refusing to work with me whatsoever right now it seems. He had both kids on their birthdays last year and now this year he didn't let me have Summer for her 2nd birthday and now I also can't have Jacob on his fourth...which is today. I called and asked if I could still drive there (it's a two hour drive) even if only to see the kids for a few minutes because I was so upset I couldn't see him on his birthday and they gave me a stern "No." When I asked why and asked if they had plans I was just told that it's not my weekend. We really need to revise the custody agreement because it has guidelines for holidays, but nothing for birthdays...so now I missed my daughter's and am now having to also miss my son's.

I also realized today that apparently he and I are NOT friends and he made that very blunt, he straight up told me that he hates me (he used to tell me he hated me and called me names when we first split up, but I thought he had grown past that) and that if I need to work out details with the kids I can talk to his fiance. I love her, she's so nice and I hope he treats her well, but I don't think I should be having to deal with the person who sometimes makes me feel "replaced" (not her fault, just the way I feel as 'the mom') instead of their father. I don't know what's going on, today has just thrown me for a huge loop...
post #6 of 20
The kids are still quite young, why not modify custody and visitation if possible so you are both able to see them on a regular basis?
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by confustication View Post
The kids are still quite young, why not modify custody and visitation if possible so you are both able to see them on a regular basis?
The problem is that's one thing Alex has never budged on...anything dealing with me having the kids more often than I do. The only way I'd be able to do this would be to go to court and fight for more .DH and I have talked about trying to do it though once we're in our own place which should be in about 7-8 months. We have the money to move already, but we're locked into a rental agreement until then. After that we're planning on buying a house, so we can do that...and have more room for the kids to stay in than they would have here because we currently live in a room in a house with roommates. I wish he would just work with me on these things, but doesn't seem like that's going to happen...
post #8 of 20
I hope that you are able to find a way to spend more time with them- when both parents can be involved, and wan to be, it only benefits the child. Good luck!
post #9 of 20
wow, it does sound like you are having a bad day
i can't imagine a court anywhere that would have you forced to make arrangments with your ex's new partner. in my experience that does not go over well with judges and shows an unwillingness to co-parent fairly. i would start proceedings, even if you wont be moving for a number of months, court takes a while to get things moving... well at least here it is that way. i cant see them not addressing the birthday situation very quickly, as he had them last year and is obviously not willing to be fair with you. i am wondering how long his new partner has been in the picture. it seems as tho they are trying to form a new little family with no room or consideration for you in their little unit.
i wouldnt wait, having roommates doesnt make you less of a parent, or your home less safe or appropriate for your children to visit and spend time at. i cant see him getting any better with how you described his response to you today.
i have a bit of a temper, i would get in my car and head on over and force him to let me see my children on thier birthday if it took waiting outside their door all day long and make sure that my children knew i was there waiting. otherwise who knows what he might tell them, that you had no interest in seeing your dd on her special day... or you couldnt be bothered to make the long trip... i would rather have my kids see their father for what he is, than have them think less of me as their mom. i have taken the high road for 12+ years and all it has got me is my children horribly p.a.s.'d and seemingly ruined emotionally by the actions and words of their father. from now on i plan on being more honest about who he is and what his intentions are and have been. i have found that being nice to and about my ex for the benefit of my children has only harmed them and empowered my ex to be a worse beast than he was when we were together. i regret it with all my heart. i wouldnt call anyone who feels that they and their time with the children is more important than the abscent parent's a sweetheart in any respect... i doubt he is anything more than the man you divorced and is only sweet when he is getting his own way and not havign to deal with your children's need for you in their lives.
your ex may seem like a 'sweetheart' with your children, but in all honesty could you really say that someone who would deny a child the enjoyment of sharing their birthday with both parents who brought them into this world, truly cares about his children's feelings or needs. doesnt sound like a sweetheart of a daddy to me.

you have all my sympathy, especially in having to miss your dd's bday. i have been denied every holiday and so many bdays that they are uncountable... my heart is truly with you

post #10 of 20
Wow, that is a bad situation. Ok, so I do all the planning with dss's mom, but that is because SHE prefers it that way. When dh and I first got together he had a bunch of furniture from the marriage because she had nowhere to keep it when she first moved back with her mom. Well, when she found an appt. I told dh to take the truck and drive the furniture up to her. He protested, but ever since then, she prefers talking to me. I cannot imagine him demanding that you deal with his fiance. But, maybe it will be a good thing. I was always able to convince dh to do things that his initial responses would have been "no way". So, maybe this woman will be able to mediate effectively between the two of you. With that said, you definately need to get an amendment to your custody arrangment. We have had 3 or 4 revisions to dh's for things like him being deployed and when she needed us to keep dss for while, but every single one of them it was automatic that even years we got the birthday and odd years she got the birthday. I have never heard of the birthdays not being included in the schedule, and it is usually alternating years.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Petie you hit the nail on the head, the fact is that I don't completely MIND talking to her...she's really nice and she seems to be able to get him to be OK with things he wouldn't have agreed to if I had been the one asking. It's just the whole feeling as if I am forced to bring things to her that bothers me the most. Especially when we seemed to be getting along and then bam...now he hates me...?

I'm definitely going to talk to her about talking to him about getting some revisions done on the custody agreement. Not only about birthdays but also about picking up the kids in general. When I had the kids I had no problem meeting him halfway (I live about two hours from him) so that neither of us had to drive the entire distance and now he forces me to have to drive all the way there. Which would be fine except my car isn't in the best condition and he knows that. I have to drive all the way there and back on Fridays as well as Sundays. His fiance is really nice and once when I was having car issues she brought the kids TO me on the condition that I didn't tell him because she said he'd be mad. It made life so much easier. I wish we could work something out where they dropped them off on Friday and I took them back Sunday OR they met me halfway both times. I guess I'll try and talk to her about that...
post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by kyrahudler View Post
I wish we could work something out where they dropped them off on Friday and I took them back Sunday OR they met me halfway both times. I guess I'll try and talk to her about that...
I would suggest: receiving parent picks up the kids. So, you'd drive the whole way to pick them up on Friday, and he (or she or them) would be responsible for driving the whole way to pick them up on Sunday.
What does your current custody agreement say about whose responsibility it is to pick up the kids?
post #13 of 20
Our agreement actuallys states exactly what Ione is suggesting, whichever parent is picking up is responsible for the costs associated. Of course, for us that is sometimes half of a round trip flight, but the cost is what we split. Then we usually work out where when we drive, that we meet halfway. Of course, for us, this took years to build the trust and relationship, it was by no means instant. So just keep working at it until the situations becomes best for both of you and the kids.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ione View Post
I would suggest: receiving parent picks up the kids. So, you'd drive the whole way to pick them up on Friday, and he (or she or them) would be responsible for driving the whole way to pick them up on Sunday.
What does your current custody agreement say about whose responsibility it is to pick up the kids?
Right now it says that it's my responsibility because my lawyer tried to say that if we went in front of the judge that they would say whoever moved away (me) from the other parent was responsible for transportation. But I moved away when I still had the kids in my "possession" (hate saying it like that) and I was always met him halfway when he picked them up prior to having a custody agreement.
post #15 of 20
I agree with the poster who said you should get court proceedings started now. The longer they're with your ex, the more likely it is that a judge will allow him to retain primary physical custody - and really, if you're going to be SAH with a new baby and your ex works, why in the name if all that's holy should your ex's new SO be SAH with your kids? How can that possibly be in their best interest?

The woman he lives with now is already sneaking around and telling lies to avoid his anger. That pretty much sums up the situation. Do what you can to get your living situation stable, and meanwhile go back to court and try to fix this.
post #16 of 20
Hi. I am a previously long time poster here who has been out of the loop for quite a while, but found myself wandering here today.

Almost 8 years ago, my ex and I separated and subsequently divorced. Initially I had primary residential custody and he had secondary, though we are Joint/50/50 parents.

About 4 years ago I made the decision to move and to give my ex the house; mainly because it needed a great deal of work and he had the means to do it. I wanted the children to still be able to stay in the home and where their friends were located, just did not have the ability to put the money into this 100 year old house.

We had gotten to a point where we finally put our kids first and not ourselves, so we made the decision to change our parenting plan around so that he had the children during the week and I on the weekends. The kids did not have to leave their friends and their schools, and as an extra benefit, I was able to return to college and obtain my teaching degree.

Though I still see my kids all the time, and we no longer have the court's involvement in our life; no child support issues, etc.. there are days where I wish I had not changed anything. I miss being able to do their homework with them everynight, for example. Still, I put their needs first, and it was more important they remain with their schools and friends and in the home they always knew rather than to move away from it. My ex and his wife are good parents and I always feel blessed to have them. It took a long time, but we got to a place where we thought of the kids, and that makes all the difference.

My partner is trying to navigate through the difficulties of parenting his children post divorce, and we have had some tough moments with his ex..I just reassure him that eventually once the anger and grief and other emotions subside with his ex, both of them will be able to put the kids first. Divorce is never easy, though...but the key is always remembering to put the kids first..I am guilty of forgetting that at times, especially in the beginning, as are most...but children are not objects, they do not belong to us..we need to guide them together and not make an already painful transition in their lives more painful.

I believe you will get there..it just takes time. Until then, keep reaffirming your committment to your kids with your ex. Make yourself a presence that is undeniable..and your kids will know they are loved regardless of how often you see them. Good luck to you.
post #17 of 20

Does your ex have a significantly higher income than you? Because from the few details you've given, it sounds like he's trying to manipulate and control the situation to his advantage and that he's largely able to do so because of a power/money discrepancy? Were you a SAH mom when you were with your ex? It sounds like he's treating you like a child.  I imagine that he told you what to do when you were married and is still doing it now - and it sounds like he manipulated the situation and your own vulnerable state to gain primary custody and is now trying to build a new family with his fiancee with you playing the role of aunt or something.


I agree with pp that kids need and can thrive from their dad's involvement and even with dad having primary custody. But this does not sound like a good situation.  Your kids are very young and deserve to have you on their birthday.  Your son just turned 2? He needs you regularly in his life - and the 4 year old possibly more as she's old enough to know you're missing.   I may be way off base here, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you are being controlled and manipulated and told you can't provide for your kids.  Of course kids need stability but they also need their parents.  You can be a good mom without a house and without a lot of money and just because he has more of it doesn't make him the better parent.


I would: 1) get counseling for yourself if possible to build your self-esteem and make you realize how much you have to contribute and give you the strength to stand up for yourself - and to separate your feelings about your ex from your need to deal with him as an equal partner in caring for the kids; 2) get a lawyer and file asap for more custody - and document every instance in which he's being uncooperative and standing in the way of you having a relationship with the kids.


Good luck - you deserve better than what you're getting.

post #18 of 20

I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't be with your two year old on her birthday. This is not a coparenting arrangement, this is him controlling your relationship with your kids. You and his wife should not be sneaking around to avoid his anger. That's what court orders are for, and you need to get one. Unless the court finds you an unfit parent, all of the regular conditions should apply; like sharing transportation costs, holidays/birthdays being split, and time being equitable, if you want more time with the kids. The way your ex is acting is not ok. It is affecting your kids, even if he's not being scary directly to them.


I also think there are plenty of cases where the kids should live with dad, but honestly I don't know if this is one of them. Like a pp said, if he was really such a wonderful dad, he would not be withholding them from their mom.

post #19 of 20

Yep I can relate, you just told my story except instead of my son's father and I being friends in the end he continues still to be verbally abusive towards me and always remembers to inform me that I'm a crappy mom because my son lives with him and not me. I think it's funny that women always talk about being equals to men and blah blah blah yet I have been most judged by other mothers who constantly tell me they think it's "odd" that my son lives with the father more of the time. I have even had women say to me that they think it's wrong that his main residence isn't with me...so for all the women  who want to talk your crap about women being strong, independent and equal to men that have an issue with kids living mainly with the father...sorry but just because you have a vagina doesn't mean you are or have the best situation to have your children living full time with you. It takes a lot of courage, strength and unselfishness to let the father have the main home if it's best for the children.

post #20 of 20

As the step-parent and spouse in a divorced/nuclear family I know the reprecussions of the biological parents not directly communicating.  My SD is now a tween and has been manipulating all of her parents, lying, playing games, going between us for things she wants.  My best advice is to politely tell his fiance that although you appreciate her being the mediator that you would be more comfortable communicating directly with your children's father.

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