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Father starting divorce process, faces mother who refuses to let him see their toddler

Your Question:
My wife and myself are planning on divorcing soon. We have been married 2 years as of August 2, 2006, and have a 17 month old daughter. I saw an attorney last year, paid a $1600 retainer for the divorce based on adultry, and then ran out of money to continue the case because she went to the court house and said that she wanted it contested and that I couldn't prove that she committed adultry. I have PHYSICALLY caught her committing adultry, but of course, at the time, I had no device in my possession to prove it other than a co-worker of mine seeing the scene also. OH, AND I AM ACTIVE MILITARY!!! Since that incident, we have tried to work out our problems, but off and on, my wife will leave our home and stay with either her mother or sister in Alabama, while I stay at our home in Georgia. I am stationed at Fort Benning,GA which is only 8 miles from her mother's home in Phenix City, AL. Back to the point, my wife has never worked, and refuses to go look for work. She is physically and mentally capable for any work, but refuses to. Now, she has managed to borrow money from family members to pay an attorney for AN UN-CONTESTED DIVORCE based on if I agree to everything. She wants full custody and child support in the amount of $500 a month. I DO NOT PLAN TO AGREE WITH THIS AT ALL! But, based on the fact that I am in the military, I have been told by many attorney's that I've spoken to that I have no chance in winning even though she has no income, no transportation other than relying on her family members, no driver's license, and then only way of supporting our daughter would be through child support. Also, I have not been able to see my daughter in weeks now because she refuses to allow me to see her even though there have been no court orders or even a court hearing of any sort. I feel that we both are her parents and both have the right to see her. I have spoken to local law enforement and they seem to say the samething that I can the same rights as her to see our child right now AT ANY TIME BECAUSE THERE ARE NO COURT ORDERS SAYING OTHERWISE. I haven't seen my daughter in weeks and it is driving me insane. WHAT SHOULD I DO AND HOW CAN I BE ABLE TO SEE MY DAUGHTER WITHOUT CAUSING MORE DAMAGE TO MY SITUATION SINCE I AM IN THE MILITARY? If it helps at all, the unit that I am stationed at is a unit that supports training, so we DO NOT get deployed. I have been here for 4 years, and never been deployed or even heard of it so it wouldn't be a matter of deployment happenings. I know that this is a lot to help with, but I would really like to be able to see my child right now...especially since no one and no piece of any type of court order has stated that I cannot except her and her family (oh yeah, many of her family members are employed as police officers in her mother's town). They state that in Alabama/Georgia, when a couple separates, the child is to automatically stay with the mother until the case is settled and the mother has the "say when and where" power over visitation. She WILL NOT ALLOW ME TO SEE MY CHILD AND I DONT WANT TO GET INTO ANY TROUBLE WITH THE LAW SO I NEED YOUR HELP!!! I hope to hear from you soon with some helpful information. Thanks.

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My Answer:

As far as I know, you have equal rights to your child (as a child of marriage) until a court orders otherwise. Her family is blowing a bunch of hot air.

I don't think your military employment is relevant in a child custody decision, given that you'll never be deployed. This is unlike military personnel who are active service and may be deployed at any time-- such people sacrifice for their country, and unfortunately that sacrifice means that they can't offer a stable home where they'll always be around to raise a child.

I suggest you exploit the mother's actions by seeking immediate orders for custody of the child, granting visitation to the mother, given that her actions demonstrate clear intent to remove the father from the child's life.

To do that, you need to document your repeated requests to see the child. Send emails, record phone calls (if legal in your state), and send certified letters in the mail. After many attempts, or after she responds with something like, "You'll never see this child again", see if you can do an emergency hearing to get custody while you remain in the family home until further order of the court.

This is assuming that you have no major issues with alcohol, violence, crime, or drugs.

Every passing day is your enemy, as the child's current arrangement becomes the status quo.

The adultry may be relevant to the divorce (i.e., if you're in a "fault" state), but it's irrelevant to the child custody ruling.

At this point, focus MAINLY on the mother's determination to bar all access between you and child. And emphasize what a good, positive parent you are.

You need an aggressive, experienced attorney to litigate this thing ASAP. Your wife isn't interested in settling, and you'll only be wasting money trying to negotiate a resolution. Put it on a credit card, borrow from family, or do whatever it takes to hire a family law attorney who has at least 10 years experience in the county where the case has been filed.

Also, get the book "Win Your Child Custody War" that I describe on my What You Must Have page. You need all the help you can get, and you're early enough in the process that you can make a difference in the outcome.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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