For years he could not be bothered to be a parent, unless it was a public event. Even when he moved in with his parents three years ago he would come over to visit with his "stuff", but neglect to spend any time with his kids. He has been slowly building more time with them, but when I started dating again, he decided to become "superdad" and I was the one that was now seen as unfit to parent. He has a history of depression, anger, lying, manipulative, controlling and unpredictable behavior. He still lives with his parents, doesn't work, but has been going to school for 9 years. He has a typical overbearing mother who thinks their son can do no wrong even in glaringly abusive situations, everything is my fault. If you give this man an inch, he will take a mile.
I worked so hard to get away from him, and I am very afraid that he will use having a 50/50 split to continue to pressure me. Has any one else been in this situation? Any advice/consolation.
I'm sorry that you feel so worried. That transition period, when you're establishing the ground rules on which the rest of your "co-parenting" relationship will be based, can't help but feel scary and uncertain.
You can't change who your child's father is, and (unless he's abusive and dangerous to your child), it wouldn't be right to try to get your child away from him, even if you'd like to get yourself away from him.
So the best you can do is work toward thinking less about all the things you don't like about your ex - and all the things you're aware of, in his family and his past, that contribute toward what you don't like about him. You'll never change any of that, but by letting it occupy less of your mind, you "get away from him" in an important way.
In many ways, he can only "control" or "pressure" you, as much as you let him, once you're divorced. Yes, you're still going to have to interact with him, regarding your child. But you can limit your communication to email. You can ignore things he says about your personal life, or you being a bad parent. You don't have to do things just because he or his mother, or anyone else, tries to make you feel bad if you don't.
Focus on differentiating between feeling controlled, pressured, concerned or upset about what he thinks of you/says to you; and what control you actually have, over your own life and your own, separate relationship and time with your child.
One woman in a house full of men: my soul mate: or... twin sons:(HS seniors) ... step-son: (a sophomore) ... our little man: (a first grader) ... and there is another female in the house, after all: our.
I don't know the laws where you are, but in many places physical parenting time and legal custody are two different things. Even a parent who only parents their child every other weekend might have equal weight for decisions like education, religion, extracurriculars, residence, etc.
The key for us was to make sure the custody agreement was VERY clear. What requires consent from both parents (enrolling in or changing schools, for example), what requires notification only (maybe enrollment in extracurricular activities, for example) but the other parent can't exercise control over it. My husband can object to the TV shows his daughter watches at mom's or what time she goes to bed, but if mom's choices aren't dangerous, he doesn't get to control those things.
And everything goes both ways. If mom wants the right to decide who can babysit her daughter when she is at dad's house, dad then has the right to decide who can babysit at mom's house. Every restriction we wanted to put on mom's behavior, we had to first consider whether it was something that we wanted to be held to also. Some things were worth it and some weren't.
I'm too tired to say as much as I want, but I do understand your concerns. I had to deal with that to a point, and I was worried about what you are, with the jumping through hoops and nitpicking. Your bf should be allowed to be down on the school contact list, your ex doesn't get a say so in that unless your parenting agreement states otherwise. If he has an issue with it, the burden is on HIM to prove why your bf should not be allowed on there as an emergency contact. That really helped me deal with my situation; my instinct was to analyze all the "what if" scenarios, but courts don't deal with "what if", they deal with what is in front of them. And the burden is on whomever is bringing the case to court. If your ex states that he doesn't want someone watching your kids (out of spite, not real concern), he needs to give a compelling reason why, and an "rules" that he wants will go for him, too. There are bad judges and mediators, yes, I have seen this a bit in court. But for the most part, they are good at figuring out when there is a real issue and when it's just designed to punish or be controling, like the exapmles you are giving. Stay positive!!!!
"Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen." Ralph Marston
Do you have legal representation? I hope so. I believe in shared custody when it is remotely possible, but with your ex living at his parent's house and you having your own home, I think a good lawyer might be to get your home selected as the primary residence. Even if that doesn't happen, a good lawyer can CERTAINLY listen to your specific concerns about bullying behavior from your ex, and help you create a parenting plan that precludes many opportunities for that kind of nonsense.
Bullies get tired of their fun when their intended victim stops responding. Step One is to get a parenting plan in place that you thoroughly understand. Step Two is to never, ever engage on any topic that isn't directly related to the two of you making arrangements to execute the parenting plan. If every nasty thing he says is met with a bland expression, no verbal acknowledgement, and a redirection of the conversation back to pickup times, school selection, vacation schedules etc., he will eventually stop. And maybe faster than you think. Some people prefer to take all substantive communications to email, for documentation purposes and to give them an easy out in face-to-face meetings: "Shoot me an email about that, please. Gotta run bye!"
I could have written your initial post. I know exactly where you're coming from. My children also have a fairweather father. Theirs tends to pop into their lives when he's trying to impress a woman with his "stellar" parenting skills. He uses them. He is ONLY involved in their lives when he's dating someone with children. Our situation is different in that we actually began with 50/50 custody, but slowly and over time, that regressed to 70/30 and then 90/10, and now he really only takes them a hanfull of times a year. I just posted that he's currently trying to go back to 50/50 again (I made the grave error of making a big deal about his year of arrears in child support, and now he has decided that if he has custody, he'll be free of this debt and I'll be paying him). But my family has reminded me that he is so flighty that he will drop the issue, in due course.
I only mention it because if your ex has a history of hopping in and out of your child's life, the 50/50 custody may not last long, as soon as he realizes just how much work being a parent is.
I hear you on the manipulation and control issues, and wish I had more advice. My ex turns me into a weeping heap of uselessness everytime he calls and starts spinning things and manipulating the conversation to suit his agenda. It's painful.
Hang in there. =/