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Young never married mother of baby is 300 miles away of raging father and father's mother

Your Question:
Well first off I hope that you can help me with my question. I am a single mother with a three month old daughter, and will soon be going to court to determine custody. At 8 months pregnant my ex had moved out to be with someone else, whatever you know, nothing I can do. But the first thing that I did was move back to my parents because there was no sense in me staying somewhere I would be harrassed by him and his mother. The woman would call 20 times a day, and try to force her way into my home. So I move back home, 300 miles away, have my baby girl, which I wrote him a letter to let him know. A month goes by and he comes to a relatives house to visit her, not more than 30 miles from where he lives. He sees her, holds her for all of 5 minuets and then the rest of the time tries to talk me back into getting back with him. So after this we stayed in contact, but still not getting along. He says he wants to be a part of her life, but every time I tell him he is more then welcome to come and visit her, because I don't think I should always be the one to travel 300 miles, he replies with "I don't have time, I work." or "That is too far to drive, the money" or something else that should not be a concern if you want to have time with your daughter, in my eyes anyways. Well I am truly sorry this is getting so long, basically I have told him I want full custody. He is a very immature boy, we are both 23, he does hold a job, no child support yet, and I really don't trust him. He had once threatned me when I was pregnant that he would take her and not give her back to me, and that scares me. I belive him and his mother are very unstable, half the time shes the one calling and ranting that "they" will get custody. Okay a few more questions, should I hire my own lawyer, being a single mother I am sure one will kind of be appointed to me, but should I hire my own being that he is? Will my debt come up and look bad against me, I have deliquent student loans and CC debt, do they base anything on that? Will they look at how he was throughout most of my pregnancy, physicaly and mentally abusive to me, he would shove me all the time and physically restrain me from leaving, he would bite me and leave marks, that plenty of people seen, can I metion this? He has major anger problems, has even went to court, I forget what the ruling was, for felony assult and battery on his step father. He currently lives at home with his mom but does work. If you could give me any answers or advice it would be much appreciated. And again I am so sorry that this is so long, and Im kind of all over the place. Thank you again for your time and hopefully response.

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My Answer:

Wow, your case has it all-- long distance, alleged violence, never married parents, and harrassing grandparents. It would have been nice to sense a bit of remorse for creating this situation in which to raise a child. This kid has a rocky 18 years ahead of her.

Let's start with the foundation that it's in a child's best interest to have high access to two healthy parents (preferably in a marriage, but secondarily in a stable joint custody arrangement).

Per your description, the father may not be too healthy.

We have to ask is there anything that can be done in your situation to make him healthy? You can request the court order that he go through anger management and a parenting class. That is a reasonable request.

Making your situation more complicated is his mother. If she's calling you 20 times daily and leaving harrassing messages, you should be able to get a restraining order against her. This will make her angrier, but you evidently need it in place to protect yourself and get rid of that nastiness. Save up some of the messages she has left, and get your RO.

Also complicating your situation is the 300 miles between the parents. At some point, your kid is probably going to be traveling that distance at least monthly, if not more. Not good.

Until the time that there are two healthy parents (and that includes a healthy home-- so if the paternal grandmother is dangerous or unhealthy, the father's home is unhealthy so long as he lives with her), you need to figure out what is next best for the child.

At this point, unless you have major issues that pose imminent threat to the child (e.g., addiction, violence, perversions), you will likely get the vast majority of timeshare.

The more difficult decision you have is not whether you'll win or lose, but rather what is best for the child with regard to contact with her father? Simply because you're sitting in the power position does not strip you of the responsibility to use it with your child's interest in mind.

I think that if the father were willing to jump through hoops like anger management and parenting classes, he's demonstrating a commitment to this child. If he decides that the parents need to be close together, and he moves to your current city-- that's a pretty mature decision. But if he's not willing to make true effort to resolve his issues, he's not good for the child (and you seek to minimize his contact).

No, your debt is not relevant to a custody ruling.

Yes, you should find an attorney with at least 10 years experience in the county where the case is being heard. This is part of the price of protecting your child's future. If you end up filing for bankruptcy within the next 12 months, so be it. Hopefully, you'll be able to manage your debts. But you recover from bankruptcy within several years, whereas your child will never recover from a bad ruling.

Good luck.


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