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Unmarried mother wants to leave her boyfriend; wonders if boyfriends threats to get custody are true

Your Question:
Hi I am thinking about leaving my boyfriend. We have a 3yr. old son. He has threatend me by telling me that he will get custody of our son. Also that if I leave he won't let me take our son. That is why I haven't left yet. I am afraid of him "working" the system (which he SWEARS he CAN do), and me loosing my son to him. what will or could happen? Need some VERY GOOD Advice!!!

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My Answer:

If you're not married, you have 100% parental rights of this child until the time that a court rules otherwise.

It would be great for all three of you if you can work out a parenting plan and custody decision without ever seeing a courtroom.

If not, you or the father would have to file a paternity action in court and request orders for custody, child support, and a parenting schedule (i.e., commonly called visitation, though a child doesn't "visit" with a parent).

The court will make a decision that is supposed to be in the best interest of the child, since the parents have failed to stay together and the parents cannot make a decision as to what's best for the child.

The court will want to know who has been the primary caretaker, if there is any drug/alcohol addiction, if there is any serious mental illness that threatens the child, if there is any violence, or if there are any other factors that are relevant to what is best for this child (in terms of custody and parenting plan).

Ideally, you and he can stay out of court.

If not, you and he will both try to convince a judge what you think is best for the child.

The judge won't care about what a lousy boyfriend/girlfriend either of you are, won't care much about minor character flaws, and won't care much about either parent's feelings.

The judge wants to hear "My proposed parenting plan is best for the child because ________________________."

The good news, which should help calm you, is that your boyfriend is speaking out of his butt, and he's just as ignorant as you (per how you describe what he's saying) when it comes to family law.

There's a book that I think would be good for you to read, which explains what you can expect. You can purchase it on Amazon, Your Divorce Advisor : A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce. You can skip over some of the financial issues in this book, as only child support and the child's expenses will be involved in your situation.

Finally, you are playing the role of a very weak woman when you say something like, "He won't let me take our son."

If he has imprisoned you, call 9-1-1.

But if he is only using words, your son deserves a much stronger mother, and that is part of your journey through this decision.

It's important for you to assert what you think is best for the child, but also to leave room for reasonable discussion and compromise. THAT is strength, and that is a tremendous approach to life that is important to model for your child. Being a bully is weak, just as being a victim is weak.

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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