Edited by Cybercere - 10/21/11 at 3:00pm
it looks like maryland is not one of the states where 50-50 is standard, so in all likelihood you would get custody, especially since it's been a long-established pattern. if you were going for child support he may then be motivated to try to get 50-50 (which is stupid, as if it doesn't cost money to have a child!), but be aware that you may not be able to waive it since it is your child who is entitled to financial support from her father.
hopefully someone who has actual experience in maryland will be able to chime in!
And, it's probably better for you to be the one to push for formalization. You'll feel better with an order in hand. If you start the proceedings, you'll catch him off guard. If he doesn't have the money to pay child support, he likely doesn't have the money for a retainer with an attorney on short notice. Also, since your dd is an infant, that is usually in the favor of the mom in a decree as well.
I always feel so much better when it's black and white and everyone knows their expectations.
Document document document document document. Every time you OFFER time, every time he HAS time, every time he says NO, every time he says YES, each and every communication you have about your dd you should document.
Look up the "standard" visitation plan in your state - since he hasn't been having her 50/50 he probably won't get it unless thats the "default" rule in your state, and even then you may be able to overcome a presumption of that schedule if you can demonstrate its not in her best interest.
I would speak with a lawyer (if you don't need child support hopefully you can afford to retain a lawyer if you need to). I would also initiate proceedings, since that always makes people feel better. Until there is a court order, each parent has an equal right to the child (supposing they are both on the birth cert), and either parent can technically just pick up the child and go whenever they feel like it.
I am documenting everything. I signed up for parentingtime.net which is great. He is not on her birth certificate and I'd prefer to keep it that way - if I go to court, he'll end with her more than he has her now. My attorney has advised me not to do anything. To support my position that "yes, I'm fine if you see her, but really, I'd just like you to go away." Going on the offense is counter to that. Still, the sleepless nights are hard. I'm hoping to move away in a year or two and then he'll just have to come see her if he wants too. (And yes, I've heard the argument that "he's her father too) but honestly sometimes I think kids are better off without some "parents." I've bent over backwards to be nice to him and he's done nothing but harrass me and try to bully me into getting what he thinks he wants.
he bolded is why I think you seek resolution. Getting a court order finalizes everything, and gives all parties concrete expectations. I was TERRIFIED at the beginning of my custody battle, (false cps report, harassment, abuse, etc) but now, its all good and I'm almost completely relaxed about the whole thing.
If you don't want to do anything, you need to find a way to let the anxiety go. Don't let him bully you - tell him you will speak to him about immediate concerns, but that if he wants more visitation he needs to go to court. Let him contact you about visitation, don't contact him (out of sight out of mind perhaps?). If you're having sleepless nights over the anxiety, doing nothing isn't going to change it.
Have you talked to your attorney about just 'moving away'? I have a close friend who did just that when her dd was a few months old. Father not on the birth certificate, but he had been coming to her house to visit the baby--not a single unsupervised visit as he'd never even asked. Over the course of the next 9 months, He took her to court, got paternity established, and the judge's first order was to have her surrender her infant daughter to her father since the judge ruled she was guilty of custodial interference for moving without his permission. She was the visiting parent for nearly a year--seeing her daughter only 10-12 hours a month supervised, becuase her moving had shown she was at risk of running off with her daughter. After thousands of dollars in attorney's fees, she eventually "won back" 50/50 custody. All because she moved the child's residence without permission from a parent not even on the birth certificate. And this was in a VERY, VERY mother friendly state. Their dd now spends one week with her, one week with her father, and neither parent can move without the other's permission.
I just cannot caution enough not taking just one attorney's word for something. Investigate the laws yourself. Get a second opinion (usually a 'free consult' would suffice).
Sorry Cyber! I just know she never thought it would happen to her! Montana was where the child was born/custody was returned to the father. Ah, well that adds another layer...if she already has someone on the birth certificate....and you have a a written agreement with the father...I'd just keep careful notes!!! Keeping track of all your interactions. You posted this in single parenting, but I assume from your post that you are still with your husband then? In that case, a move with the military certainly wouldn't just be running away and I'd assume a court would be very sympathetic there!
I agree with Super~Single~Mama, you need to document EVERYTHING. In all likelihood, it's just empty threats intended to intimidate and scare you, but it's shocking how far some of these men will take them.
I know another mama whose ex got the kids removed from her custody (false CPS call) for 3 weeks and it wound up costing her over $70,000 in legal fees by the time she was finally divorced. Her ex wants absolutely nothing to do with the kids, he just pulls that variety of nastiness to get back at her. Legally, he has no leg to stand on in court but unfortunately the mechanisms still exist for ongoing legal harassment. I'm going through a divorce myself that will culminate in termination of rights (or at least he's tentatively agreed to it) and my ex likes to play dirty legally to "even the score" and waste away my retainer. Thankfully, I kept a written record of just about everything so most of his efforts at harassment end pretty quickly.
Like others have said, get something official on paper. You may also want to do a consult with another attorney (or two...or three) since your situation is more complicated than average. Initial consults are usually free so it doesn't hurt to get a second legal opinion.
that's scary. Where was that? (state?) I was still married when I got pregnant and the law here required that my husband be on the birth certificate so legally she's his which apparently is a roadblock. He's active duty military so we would move if he got orders not just a "run away". DD's father and I have an informal written agreement that states it's in her best interest to remain the legal dependent of my husband and I. I have consulted a few lawyers and all have said basically the same thing. But thanks for adding another thing to worry about :-) I could always go to Canada I guess.
I remember your story now. You post every once in a while about how terrified you are, but you don't actually ever do anything about it.
I really think you should either a) cut off bio dad and tell him to suck it up, or b) seek legal resolution. If you choose (a) he can sue you for visitation, but will then also be required to financially support his child. I know you like the idea of your informal agreement, but if he's making threats, you need to actually DO something so that he HAS to stop. It's like he enjoys holding this over your head so that you'll live in fear. Stop giving him that power. Visitation with a caring parent is NOT the worst thing that can happen to a child - my ds spends lots of time with his dad, who he has a great relationship with, and I don't hate it (although I do miss him like crazy when he's gone).
Just moving without telling him, if/when your husband gets orders, is not going to solve this problem or make it go away.
I hope this doesn't sound cold-hearted, but here goes...
You are a professional woman and he, on the other hand, is a guy with multiple kids by multiple women who can't afford to pay child support. I think you should take him to court and get full custody so you don't have to worry about it anymore. You can afford proper representation and he would probably have to resort to one of those firms that advertises on television.
I'm so sorry you're going through this; good luck to you!