I am a divorced mom of two who got very unexpectedly pregnant back in February after a SHORT time dating someone. We almost eloped!!! but my senses took over not a moment too soon, and I decided that I didn't want to take that step with somebody I barely knew. Since I also have two little boys to worry about, I decided to put some distance between he and I while I thought things over. Things quickly deteriorated after that and we ended up barely on speaking terms. I didn't have much contact with him at all during the last 5 months--he came to 3 prenatal visits and sent very occasional e-mails. Back when I was 4 months pregnant he brought up the possibility of going after custody, but never brought it up again and I let it go, thinking maybe it was a passing fancy, and tried to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy.
About a week ago he re-initiated contact and told me that he was not planning on filing for physical custody because the baby and I already have a physiological bond and it wouldn' t be fair to us. I was relieved and asked how he would like to work out visitation. He suggested that he pick the baby up Friday and keep him through Sunday! I expressed some dismay over that idea, saying I didn't know how well a newborn would take to that and that it would make breastfeeding nearly impossible. It has detereriorated since then--he's extremely manipulative, twisting what I say and making comments now about circumcision and other things that he's never EVER mentioned as being issues of his in the past. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I told him that all this could be worked out when the baby is here; that the conversation is causing me stress and I want to step away from it. His response was basically that by not talking about it NOW (2.5 weeks from my due date) that I may be FORCING him to file for custody. I can't tell if he's bluffing or what, but I'm in a pretty vulnerable emotional position right now, close to the baby's birth, and it's causing me a LOT of stress and anxiety. I just can't imagine handing over a newborn baby for three days JUST BECAUSE it's his "right" to see him. What about the baby's needs? (This same guy who was all about breastfeeding when we were dating, now says he sees the "value" in it but that next to his bond it's "not that important".) I have offered opening my home to him on weekends, every weekend, all weekend; visiting him in his house, or working out some other neutral plan. He agreed to "trying" visitation that makes breastfeeding possible for a "while" but says that I will then have to "compromise" in return. (whatever that means...) He made some remark about being in court the day after the baby's born (I know this is impossible so it kinda reinforces the idea that he might be bluffing, or just thinks I'm stupid. He's a law student so I think he thinks he knows a LOT MORE than me, but really, most of his emails are ranty, illogical and make him sound a bit wacko).
I guess I'm not looking for advice so much as commisseration, but both would be great! I'm going to consult a lawyer this week and just see what they say about my rights, obligations and his chances of actually getting physical custody or the kind visitation he wants. I live in Michigan and we do have legislation that protects breastfeeding in visitation decisions, but what I'm afraid of is that if he gets on the ball right away and files for custody, there won't be enough time to establish me as the "custodial environment" before court, which would make us pretty equal on most of the 12 factors they look at for granting custody. Even though everybody keeps telling me the chances of losing custody to him are slim to nil, I'm so afraid of that 1% chance and keep thinking if I just say the right thing to him or give him whatever it is he wants, he'll back off--but the thing is, I think he really DOES want a fight and there is no making him happy.
Has anybody else gone through a custody battle with a newborn? Ideas, advice, encouragement all would be so appreciated.
I have not gone through a custody battle -- but have gone through all the threats of one.
I think consulting a lawyer right now is a great idea. I also think you need to document & save every email, etc.
In my book, he isn't showing a lot of "care & concern" for his child right now, by dumping all this stress on you at the end of the pregnancy. That would be something to discuss with the lawyer as well.
I don't have a lot of time right now to address everything you wrote, but I wanted to give you some insight on what I went through. My ex left when I was pregnant & there was a lot of "talk & threats" about how I "wouldn't be able to breastfeed as long etc. because how would he bond....yada, yada.
In reality. My ex didn't want any baby hassles at all. Our baby is now 20 months. My ex has never changed a diaper, never changed clothes, never expressed a desire for an overnight with him & to this point only taken him out of my house 1 time (and it was only for 1 hour).
Sometimes these guys get huffy & make threats. Do you really think this guy would want to deal with a crying, unsettled baby all night, all weekend?
I hope some others can offer some good advice. I have to run right now. I'll add more later if I can.
When you have a lawyer, make all contact between you go through the lawyer. You don't need his manipulation and meanness. He really wants to ruin this special time of your life.
I'm so sorry he turned into such a loser. Wishing you the best!
I don't think he'd want to deal with a crying baby every weekend, but I forgot to mention that he also goes to school all weekend and wanted his sister, who he lives with, to do the majority of the baby care. So he wants to take the baby an hour and a half away and then have his sister watch the baby while he's in class most of that time. So if she's game--it might work out great for him.
I bet he is bluffing, bcs as was already pointed out here, he clearly does not care for this little baby. And if all he wants is 1.5 hrs/weekend, then he can get that with supervised visitation. He may be wanting to avoid child support and his buddies may have told him to ask for custody to avoid child support.
Just a thought. I hope you get a lawyer, let him/her worry about it and then look forward to your child's birth!
I think it's like a game to him....he likes to flex a little muscle & feel real manly or whatever and then when the reality of it settles in -- he runs away!
The fact that he goes to school on weekends is just even more crazy! You're going to take a newborn away from it's breastfeeding mom to go stay with an aunt while the "dad" is at school -- what kind of stupid idea is that? It's not even like he'd be spending any real "bonding time". Good grief!
I get so tired of people being so selfish when it comes to their own needs & totally disregarding what is really best for the child! (Sorry, a little bit of a rant there).
Hang in there & get some legal advice so you at least know your options. Information is power. Good luck & happy birthing!
The bits of advice I have from what I observed of Friend of the Court (FOC) is:
1. Be calm, clear & sensible when speaking to them & during interviews
2. Make sure your homelife is STABLE -- not moving in w/ different friends/family, etc..
3. I've seen "overnight guests of the opposite gender" become a problem
4. Basically just be above reproach
With regard to the circumcision, if you establish custody quickly & you have full custody, then as far as I remember, you will have final say-so on medical matters.
When it comes to things like vaccinations -- I would do one thing: NOT TELL HIM that you are not vaccinating (if you don't plan to -- or if you plan to only do so on a delayed/selective basis). I'm afraid that would be an area that could get him more custody, since gov't is so adamant about that. A simple "the well visit was great, (s)he weighs xx & grew xx inches!" It's unlikely that he will even think to ask what shots (s)he got, etc.
Something I've heard from attorney's over & over, is DON'T give him joint custody (unless the court forces it, of course). Establish you with full, then (if you want), let him informally see him/her more often. Also, I would establish child support payments through FOC just to avoid confusion/arguments later on. And if you two are 1 & 1/2 hours away from one another, start with him doing all driving, then use that as a negotiating chip when he wants something unreasonable (kinda like overpricing at a yard sale because you expect people to bargain ). Also (I'm sure you know this with having 2 already), remember that strapping your poor little one in a carseat for 3 hours a day for a visitation would be pretty terrible for him/her!
Well, good luck! If you are anywhere near Shiawassee County, I would highly recommend Rebecca C. McClear -- or anyone she recommends -- she is feared by attorneys all over the county -- and in a few surrounding ones!!
my ex - a$$ and all - is concious enough to know he could not give our newborn what I could.....by law...he could have taken him for 3 days the week he was born....but he respects my desicion on breastfeeding and know the importance of bonding...plus why would he purposely volunteer to get up with a newborn every 2 hrs to feed him.
he has also respected my wishes regarding overnights with our 2 yr old...tho he does not agree.....overnights when he has a place of his own (he rents a room from a friend now) and ONLY on his nights off.
Most likely the judge will grant joint legal, even if you have sole or primary physical custody....with this "power" he can request to see his vax reccords and even make an appointment to have him vaccinated without your consent. Same with circs...they only need one parent's consent. If you plan on homeschooling, he can also take you to court to have him in a public school - think FUTURE....how will your decision now hit you in the future.
make sure your lawyer mentions an age you think you will feel comforable about vacation travels (I think my agreement says that if the kids mention they do not want to be away from mommy, he cannot take them)
my agreement is very open when it comes to visitations - many people advise against this. By law I must allow 3 hrs per week, and he can request additional times and I cannot deny as long as it does not interfear with an already planned activity (playgroup, parties, picture appointment, my "I have to scratch my butt day", etc....) I am very easy on this and have cancled some things when I know they have not seen dad for a while (he works odd hours) My lawyer advised to take note of all visitations because if he ever fought me for more cutody and he barely makes his min 3 hrs, the judge will prob not grant it. He goes over the time because I "arrange" activities for them to do.....for example this morning I called the ex and said Bear in the big blue house was live next week, to see if he wanted to take him....he said yes. so that is noted that I suggeted it, not him......most of the visits are because I call and ask if he has time for the boys or not. If I dont suggest it, he just goes to his house to relax and wont even call to see how the boys are doing.
ooops - I think I wrote a book here-
my lawyer told me to ask him not to do anything until at least 2 months after baby was born so I had time to heal physically and mentally (postpartum depression or baby blues) We had the agreement done, just needed to sign- we did all our custody fighting while preggo...
oh dont forget to specify YOU want to claim him on your taxes - no even odd arangement!!!!!!!!
Hang in there, girl. Mothers can still make the law work for them!!
(sorry to use strong language, but bullying a pregnant woman is simply unacceptable!)
Katie, mama to Katherine 19, Christian 17, Johannah 15, Nicholas 10, Genevieve 8, Matthew 5, Andrew 11/16/09 10#6oz home waterbirth and madly in love with my husband, Scott
I would definitely get a lawyer and get EVERYTHING in writing! God bless.
Having said all that, I do feel compeled to add that he is this child's father, and, as someone else put it, you need to think of the future, but not just in terms of the scary things he *might* do. It has been my experience that many people can come across quite poorly when they are freaking out, and often when they calm down everything settles down. And as the daughter of a deadbeat, alcoholic, non-child support-paying father, I can tell you that no matter how horrible he is, there is a good chance your child is going to want to know him someday, and it will certainly be better for all of you if it can be done in a positive way. However, if he makes that impossible then you need to do whatever you deem necessary to protect your baby's best interests.
My only other piece of advice is, while you should get legal advice, you may not want to advise him of that. Many people make lots of idle threats but are not motivated to really do anything until they feel threated, and being contacted by a lawyer could end up being the catalyst for him. So, if possible, you may want to have everything ready to go in case he files anything, but otherwise just keep track of all his harassing behavior & let him provide you with everything you would need to bury him if he took you to court. Good Luck
ps. trust me, just because he's a law student does not necessarily make him knowledgable about the law, and if he's not studying family law, and specifically Michigan family law, then I would say you are on even footing.
What he's doing is not about the baby-it's about control and power. He may have little actual interest in the child, but only wants to have control over what you do and not give you control.
Keep track of EVERYTHING. Record phone conversations if you can. Print out emails. Everything else the other posters have already mentioned.
Don't tell everything you know.
He may be bluffing, he may not. It's hard to tell. You need to be prepared for what could happen.
In my situation, it was really hard in the beginning. For us, it has turned out OK, but I have had to bite my tongue MANY a day. My ex (we weren't married) has come a long way, and I have gone out of my way to allow him to be involved in our daughter's life, through his drug problems, lack of stable employment, disappearings to all ends of the world, getting behind on child support, and general lack of responsibility. Now, he has married a very stable lady, they have a business, a new baby, and my daughter loves her dad SO much. He is really good to her, and I can tell he really loves her. Their relationship is important to both of them, and I congratulate myself all the time on facilitating that realtionship-even though he was flaky and a pain in the a$$-and still is sometimes-and even though he has not always been the kind of dad I wanted for her. I have had to put up with a lot, and I have gotten screwed (figuratively : ) in a lot of ways, but I always put my dds best interest first, and it is in her best interest to know her dad, faults and all. No one can ever say I didn't do everything I could to make their relationship possible.
My advice-take care of the legal stuff now-don't tell him you're doing it-get everything in writing as soon as you can. Be as detailed as possible. I wish I had done that . It would have saved a lot of trouble later. We never had anything legal drawn up, we just worked it out informally, but I feel like I have been cheated in some aspects, esp. money.
Also know, it will get easier later on.
I suggest mediation to help you guys work through the issues. It can be a great experience, and no one leaves feeling beaten. Both parties can win with mediation.
Good luck, please keep us all updated. You'll be in our thoughts!
Just another idea. Best of luck to you. No momma needs this!
Someone moved my effing cheese.
|Originally posted by Becca SW
I congratulate myself all the time on facilitating that realtionship-even though he was flaky and a pain in the a$$-and still is sometimes-and even though he has not always been the kind of dad I wanted for her.
I wish my case had been so simple. I have been dealing with a nightmare ever since I attempted my divorce and child custody two years ago. Despite the fact that I was clearly my children's primary provider, their father moved three states away (to Michigan) while our children were 3 and 2 months, my battle has been anything but simple.
In addition he issued threats towards me that have been heard and ignored by the courts. He's a native of Nigeria and was arrested at the US Capitol for appearing as a suicide bomber but none of this matters to the courts.
I was naive. I hope you are not so naive and have an opportunity to get away.
L. Christine Olaniyi Battle Creek, MI (269) 979-4130
Protect yourself now. Get away if possible.
I have no idea, I am just asking. I was not married to my baby';s father when he was born, and we had to sign a lot of papers to acknowledge paternity and get his name on the birth certificate, etc. Maybe that could buy you some time?
Like I said, I don't know what good this would do, but I think you have more rights since you are not married to the baby's father at the time of birth.
|Originally posted by mama3
Wow LJ, thanks for sharing your experience. Did you have any idea during the "Talk and threats" that it was all just bull? Part of me thinks it might be in his case too, but he seems so insistent that I can't be sure.
1. Yes, save EVERYTHING. The emails an any recorded voice messages he may leave or his family memebers may initiate - save it all, let them hang themselves. If he comes to you in person - get out your video camera to prove he is coming to you - this proves harrassment if you need a restraining order in the future.
2. Keep him away from you during this emotional time. Tell him he is not welcome at the birth because you don't want the stress. The hospital will keep him out of the delivery room and away from you. If he goes nuts, just get a restraining order to keep him away. If you really want a stress free birth - do what I did and go into the hospital under an alias - that way he won't even be ABLE to find you if he wants to cause you grief. Give the hospital a list of names of who is allowed to visit you there - and they are required to keep ALL OTHER people out - including the baby's ALLEGED father. Remember - he is the alleged father until he proves otherwise with a DNA test -which he will have to pay for himself and enforce himself - with the help of a lawyer who he will have to pay. Believe me, getting in with a lawyer is a costly and emotional process - it's not fun at all, remember that.
3. Yes, he is full of crap and doesn't know what he's talking about. Additionally, he doens't even want custody - he is just having control issues. Believe me - I had a guy chasing me down and harrassing me and threatening all the same things until the day I gave birth - and I never heard from him again - please, believe me.
4. Just breastfeed - that's the answer to your problems until the baby is at least 3 - that's THREE YEARS AWAY. Your boyfriend will not be able to get ANY KIND of overnights as long as the baby is breastfeeding -period - unless you are a heroin addict or something - it simply won't happen - so relax. 3 years from now your boyfriend could be in Tanzania with his new wife - so just relax, ok?
I am sorry you are going through this, but please just ignore him. Also don't put his name on the birth certificte when the baby is born! That is a privilege he will have to FIGHT FOR and prove medically in court, and all the longer it will take him, believe me. You just t ell the nurse there is no father that you know of, she has no right to question you.
If you go this route he can't even start custody proceedings for about 6 months from the baby's birth. He'll have to get a court order to make you take the baby's blood for DNA testing - it takes for damn ever.
In the meantime, IGNORE his emails and phone calls - never pick up the phone - please do yourself a favor and let him blab his way into trouble on your answering machine -and save EVERY message - just in case he does try to fight you in court. Let him hang himself - and don't talk to him or any of his family. You need to concentrate on the baby and you now and they don't matter.
Don't sweat too much - it will all be alright - ok?
I don't know how helpful this will be, but check with Social Services or whoever is in charge of custody issues in your state.
As my fiance and I learned shorlty before the birth of our daughter, since we weren't married at the time of her birth, her father did not have any legal right to her. And it doesn't matter that we signed a Pareternity Affidavidt and his name is on her birth certificate. In the State of Washington, if the parents are not married at the time of birth, the father has to go to court or file a parternity plan to have any rights to the child. So at this point (we're getting married next month) if anything were to happen to me and I couldn't take care of my dd, my mother (as she's my next of kin) would become her legal guardian.
Also, try to keep things in perspective. My sister was in a similar situation (threats, name calling, and her ex-boyfriend accussed her of sleeping with other people). She went as far as telling the baby's dad that she had slept with someone else so he wasn't the father. She then moved to a different town and had no contact with him for almost a year. And guess what? She's now living with him with their son and her first child. He turned out to be a good dad. So you never know how it will turn out in the end.
As has already been mentioned, breastfeed exclusively, because that's the one thing he CANNOT do. If you need some facts on the benefits of breastfeeding, if it comes to that in court, check out ProMom, www.promom.org There's a link for 101 Breastfeeding Facts.
I wish you the best of luck, and I'm praying for you and your family.
Trish~mama to Kaelie 5/03 and Amelia 12/13, surro mama to Aidan 2/08 & Ellyss 6/09,