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My (stbx?) partner and I have been struggling with differences and misunderstandings for a while. About a week and a half ago he declared that it wouldn't be possible to work through it, and I took our eight month old to stay at my mom's house, which is my only alternative. Since then he has seen her twice: once for a short visit during his lunch break and then yesterday he visited for several hours. As I drove him home he told me that he would arrange to have the same days off of work each week (it usually fluctuates) and that he expected to have her for two days & overnight every week...! I've never been away from her for more than four hours. She is still almost exclusively breastfed and doesn't take a bottle. He is trying to say that I need to adjust and give him joint custody. My mom assures me that for infants, the protocol is for the non-custodial parent to have short visits as frequently as possible. The information I have found online reflects that parents have an equal chance at custody as opposed to the old assumption that the mother was most fit. It's not clear what we can or should do short of going to court about this. We are unmarried and did fill out a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. Anyone been there? What should I do to set us up for the best situation? I need to know the legal situation, but also what is best for my daughter at this delicate age. He is pretty good with her and certainly competent, but he has never taken care of her by himself for an extended period of time and for several reasons I am concerned about her safety if we should have joint custody. He has disregarded laws & recommendations regarding Child Passenger Safety, would feed her things an infant shouldn't have, etc. Compounding this whole issue is the fact that I am not ready to let go of our relationship at this point and don't want to do anything to ruin our chances at getting back together. But meanwhile my mom is already pressuring me to demand financial support from him because she can barely make ends meet on her own. ETA: Also, he can not drive legally, neither of us owns a car, and we are staying about forty minutes away. What a mess!
 

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BTDT.


Short, frequent visits are the best for creating a bond between your ex and your daughter. As it stands now, he probably wants overnights for his convenience. He has no car, so it will be difficult for him to visit frequently. Tough poopy. It is much better for your DD to have him come and visit (or you can take her over to his place) for 3 hours or so every other day. Do not just let him take her overnight until he has established a stable visitation pattern of frequent visits so that your DD will know him.

He also needs to demonstrate that he is capable and knowledgeable about infant care. If he is going to feed her inappropriate foods and ignore carseat laws, then he is incapable of caring for an infant by himself. If he argues with you, tell him to stuff it. Honestly. I know you want to get back together, but you have to look out for your child.

If I were you, I would go to the courts and file for official child support asap. The order they give you guys after that will grant him "reasonable parenting time" with an unspecified schedule. Reasonable parenting time for an infant means those short frequent visits. If he wants an official schedule, he can either work one out with you or take it to court.

In my case, my ex was simply too lazy to do any of this, so we never got an official schedule. He rarely saw our DD.
 

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How long were you living together before the split? How much was he involved in your dd's care until now?

These things do play into how much visitation he is likely to get right away if it ever went to court.

Courts are definitely more likely to award joint custody when both parents are willing and able to play big roles in the child's life. However, joint custody does not automatically mean full days and overnights for a still-b/fing nine-month-old. Everything I have researched points towards short, frequent visits at this age, regardless of custody. As the child grows and their ability to hold an image of their caregivers in their mind improves, the length of visitation increases, and the frequency can decrease if desired.

So... perhaps you can approach your ex with a reassurance that you are not trying to reduce his time with his dd, but that you want to make decisions that are developmentally appropriate. Research is showing that if a child has lengthy stretches of time away from any major attachment figure before age 2-3, it can mess up their attachments with all caregivers. Not good for you, him, or dd.

Here are some links that I found really useful, as I'm currently going through the same scenario with my dd's dad wanting full days and overnights prematurely:
http://www.oscn.net/forms/aoc_form/adobe/Form.76.pdf (research-based visitation guidelines)
http://www.bcfamilylawresource.com/03/0306body.htm (guidelines about 1/2 way down the page based on parenting skill level)
http://mentalhealth.about.com/cs/fam.../attach403.htm (results of recent research study on overnights for infants)
http://answers.google.com/answers/th...id/754914.html (scroll down for all kinds of useful links)
http://www.yakimacounty.us/SuperiorCourt/ChildDiv.htm

I hope this helps!
 
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