Going through a divorce
So.. I have a question.. my soon to be ex husband and I have been separated for over a year and we have been going through the divorce and custody process for about six months. my 5 year old recently told me that she wants to stay with her dad. Does it make me a bad mother if I agree to give him custody as long as I have visitation?
It doesn't make you a bad mother if that's what's really good for your child. I'm old-fashioned, and I think it's better for most five-year-olds to be with their mothers. If you think your situation is really unstable and that you can't support your child, and you have tremendous respect for your ex-husband's parenting, you could be the exception.
I know someone who just did what you are proposing. She was in a difficult situation and considered that the only way out. I think she had every other weekend as they live 5 hours apart.
You could also consider alternating weeks or something with a mid week visit by the other patent. That is a long time for a five year old not to see her other parent though. Maybe two mid week visits?
It doesn't make you a bad mother to do right by your child- but I agree about being very careful before you sign away your rights. Even if you get 50/50, you and your X could agree outside of court to do a trial run of him being the primary caretaker while you have visitation to make sure that really is what's best for your daughter.
Both me and my partner were raised by divorced parents who agreed to things like visitation and child support outside court as their needs changed. They had an agreement drawn up in court, of course, but they agreed to changes between themselves without going to court to get it made official. My dad paid far more than the court ordered him to, and also saw me a lot more than the minimum the court had given him. If you and your ex can get along with each other, you can agree to 50/50 in court- then, out of court work out what really works for you.
Obviously, this will only work if you and your STBX can get along well enough to follow up on such agreements. If you don't get along well enough for that, all the more reason to get 50/50 just in case.
...As long as you're not considering giving your ex custody because you feel hurt or rejected by your daughter. Kids state preferences like that for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with what's best for them, or how they really feel. It can have more to do with defending the parent they perceive to be weaker or sadder; or clinging to the parent they perceive to be more likely to detach from them, emotionally; or the child might choose the parent the child has witnessed punishing people who don't side with him/her. You don't want to make a long-term decision, then look back a year later and realize: "My daughter made an impulsive choice and I based MY choices on it, because I felt temporarily crushed that she didn't pick me."
Also, you don't necessarily want to sacrifice custody just because you're exhausted from battling your ex for it. If you're looking at a 50-50, or nearly 50-50 time-split; and shared legal (decision-making), but you and your ex are fighting over largely-semantic designations of "custodial" and "non-custodial", maybe it's best to give in. But if - all things being equal - you think your daughter ought to reside primarily with you, but you just want the court proceedings to be over, then don't let your ex intimidate you over something so important.
If, however, there are legitimate reasons it would be better - or equally good - for your daughter to live primarily with your ex, then a "bad" mother is the one who'd insist on keeping custody solely because she can't stand to see her ex "win". That's clearly not you!
I don't think it makes you a bad mother to do what is best for your daughter. However, maybe consider *why* your daughter wants to live mostly with her father-she is only 5 and, like a pp said, she shouldn't be given the responsibility of choosing where to live all on her own.
My 6-year-old would sometimes prefer to stay at her dad's too, but she'll come right out and say it's because she doesn't have to do school (we homeschool) or chores over there. So, while I'm glad she's having fun on his weeknds, I'm not going to tell her to go ahead and live with dad.
If you truly believe that your ex is the better full-time parent for your dd right now, then I think it makes you a really good and selfless mother to have her live there most of the time. However, don't sign something you'll regret just because you are tired of fighting or feeling rejected by your daughter.