Questions for a friend-custody, coparenting - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-17-2008, 12:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am posting these questions to better understand how to help my friend, thanks in advance for all who can help. Kind of long, sorry:

Backstory:
My friend has an almost three year old with a previous boyfriend who is now married. I believe for the first six months they were together and the "kind of" split custody informally while breaking up/getting back together. He is mentally unstable and is periodically hospitalized for his "disability" and he now says he has been labelled bi-polar 1. He has previously refused medication, not sure how that stands now. He is now starting to work again, which I suppose is a good thing. The new wife and my friend are not on good terms, as they got together shortly after the baby was born and they just plain fight.

My friend moved away to live with family before the baby was nine monthes, and then moved even farther away to live with her mother abroad for the last two years to get support and finish college. The father has never sent any money to support his child and about once a year will send a care package with a few outfits and considers this to be more than enough support. He is, I believe, mentally abusive and manipulative.

Getting the father to make any kind of contact with the child is a struggle. I am proud of my friend for wanting to keep her baby in touch with her father but it is a bit ridiculous, IMO. He won't send cards, he won't video phone, and just in the last two weeks he has agreed to telephone. (with phone cards calling is about $.07/minute) All of these things are "too hard" for him to do, but he wants to keep the child this summer when they go back to the states and visit for a week. I am not sure what will be easy about suddenly taking on a three year old, but he previously wanted to wait to talk to the child in person.

My friend is going to talk to an attornery this week about getting full custody (she has been afraid that he would challenge it and is terrified that her daughter would have to live even part time with her father). Again, they were never married and she has documented all of the times he has thanked her for talking full responsibility and admitting that he would be a terrible parent, so I *think* she will have no trouble getting full custody.

My questions:

1) Given that the child has never *really* known her father, would it be horrible for her mother to find a good paying job wherever she could and let the custody issues continue from there, or should she try to move somewhere that it would be "easy" for him?

2) What advice would you give for a friend who is angry about this situation, (especially since I think she *should* be angry) and what would be a heathly way to move forward.

**My advice was to send a weekly "we will be her on X days, at X times" and then leave it to him to make the effort to call during those times. We have a significant time change to deal with, but previously she was keeping her child up during a normal nap time to wait for a promised call that did not come, which left us with a very cranky child and a very pi$$ed off Mama.

Thank you again for any advice, my friend knows that I am posting this and I will be relaying any ansers to her.
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