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Self-proclaimed father hasn't seen child much in 7 years, now wants joint custody

Your Question:
I'm a father to a 7yr old daughter who lives with her mother full time in Boston MA. I currently live in Fort Myers, FLorida and have been living there every since my daughter was born. I currently pay child support for her also, I havn't had a chance to be a major part in her life up until recently. I came to boston for her 6th birthday, and her mother let her fly to boston this pass summer to visit me for a week. I am currently on vacation from my place of employment so I arranged it so that I can be in Boston for her 7th birthday. I pretty much let her mother make all the decisions on everthing concerning my daughter. Since she is the primary custodial parent. It's been difficult dealing with this for the last 7yrs. I feel that as her father I should have amp time with my daughter to build that father daughter relationship. I don't believe that her mother is helping the situation at all either. My daughter knows who I am but as far as my side of the family I believe her mother can care less if she's know them or not. For exmaple my daughter's birthday was 02/02/07 she through a little get together with all her school classmates. I was to arrive there a little early to help decorate. I arrived at her place,said hey to everyone in the house meaning(her,her 2 sons and my daughter)then I went straight to my daughters bedroom. Cause the night before I specificially told my daughter to have her room cleaned before I got there the next day. So I was just checking to see if she did what I asked. To my surprised she did what I asked only because her mother asked her to do it several times and to no avail it wasn't done. Her mother then walked passed the bedroom door and stated that it was not my place to even be in my daughters rooms looking through her stuff. keep in mind it's my child support monies that is paying for all the stuff she has. And other gifts that I buy by choice for her. We then got into a heated agruement a few words were exchange my daughter was crying, both her sons were crying and all I could keep telling her is why are you giving me such a hard time ever since I got off the plane. All your doing is trying to find something to fight with me about in front of my daughter. Her response is she agrues all the time in front of the kids with her other partner. Me on the other hand I barley see my kid as it is and the last thing I want her to remember me by is me fighting with her mother on her birthday when she does see me. When I pointed that out to her she didn't like it very much to the point were she hit me across the face with a plastic bag filled with somethings while my daughter was standing behind us in the hallway of the apartment.

Theres more to this event that I can't get into as much, but I want to know if I was to build a strong case to the courts that she as the mother of my child cannot fullfill all her motherly duties when it comes to my daughter would they grant me joint custody. She has a 3yr old son, 9mth old son, and she just found out that she is due again to have another child not knowing how far along she is. Not to mention that she had to quit her job to stay home and take care of the boys. My daughter place of saty is always mess, it looks like hurricane katrina comes through there everyday. My daughter is currently in the 1st grade and is doing well. But when I checked her report card for the past to 2 quarters of school she has been tardy at less 60 times. The school is not even a 10 minute walk from were she lives. I know this cause I walk her to school on her birthday so that I could meet her teachers. When I was going to school in the 1st grade I can't even remember not 1 time my father let me go to school late. What can I do to help better my daughters situation living with her mother?

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My Answer:

I really don't think I can say much to help you.

First, I think it's great that you've shown financial responsibility to help support this child.

I also think it's great that you've come to her past couple birthdays.

That said, based upon what you've wrote, you're really more of a friendly sperm donor, not a father.

I don't know the details of your life, but a devoted father would spend significant time with his child (i.e., as much as the court would allow). A devoted father probably would have moved to be closer to his child (if that child was a priority, compared to a job or a girlfriend, or friends, or other family).

The child doesn't want to listen to you because you have no authority as a parent. You have little to no REAL relationship with her. She probably longs to have a father, but she really doesn't have an involved one.

It was in poor taste and huge mistake to enter the mother's home and pick a fight with her in front of the kids.

I don't know the details surrounding the mother's life, but you haven't provided anything that would convince a judge to rip this child largely from the only parent she's ever known and give a nearly non-existent father a shot at doing better. It just doesn't work that way.

If you want to build a strong case for joint custody, move to Boston. Take a more active role in raising this child. See her at least a few times a week. Build a stronger and deeper relationship with her. Build a more trusting relationship with her mother.

After a couple years, ask the court for joint custody.

That's the path for you, if having joint custody is a priority in your life.

If you want the title, you need to do the work. It's never too late to change course and improve one's life. If you move to Boston and become actively involved in raising this girl, in a few years you will have a child who adoringly calls you Daddy and admires you for everything you do.

There's a book called, "Mom's House, Dad's House" that is probably at your local library. It's on my Book Reviews" page. I think you'd get so much out of it, in understanding what your child is going through during all this.

Good luck.


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