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Mother is 1500 miles away from father; debating about best schedule for toddler

Your Question:
Me and my ex fiance have a 2 year old daughter. He wants to have joint custody, however he lives all the way in Idaho and I live in Virginia. We are both in the military and he is prone to deployments and long TDYs I'm not. I will probably be stuck here in VA for at least 4-5 years. what are his chances of getting joint custody? I don't think that a child that young should be up rooted every six months? I've agreed to let him have her for 3 months during the summer and we would take turns with major holidays. He doesn't think that is fair. Some advice would be great.

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My Answer:

It's not good for a toddler to go more than a couple days without seeing either parent.

So, not only have you two broken this little girl's home (as have many of us with regard to our kids), but the parents also put 1500 miles between each other. Doesn't matter who to blame. That's just the reality.

If that's the situation, how do you think I could possibly help? All I can do is suggest what I think is best for the child-- not what is most convenient or fair for either parent.

My advice is to figure out a way to live in the same city, regardless of who moves where, and to do it ASAP.

Before that happens, I suggest that you split the travel costs (i.e., airfare and hotel) of the father to come to your city two weekends per month so he can spend 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday with the child.

Once that's been going on for a few months -- and dad and daughter are well-bonded and regained familiarity -- child starts spending the night in Dad's hotel room twice per month (i.e., he'll pick her up Saturday morning and return her to your home Sunday evening).

Once those sleepovers have been going for a while (and assuming you still haven't managed to live in the same city), you take the child to the father's home to spend many days with him (i.e., you either lodge at a hotel or fly back home). Do that once a month, in place of one of the weekends father flies to your city (i.e., child is in his town perhaps 4 consecutive days per month, and father still flies to your town one weekend per month).

Once all that's in place, and child is more accustomed to these very distant homes as being the (unfortunate) future her parents have imposed on her, then arrange for the child to spend greater chunks in Dad's house (e.g., several weeks at a time) and YOU do the weekend visit with her in the middle of those trips while she's living with Dad.

So, I've outlined a very demanding schedule on you and the father with a pretty sizable demand to get two military people living in the same city.

In my eyes, two grown-ups are more capable of meeting those demands than forcing a toddler to bear the entire burden of the situation.

It's not going to be easy, but I really don't see how you have a choice if your goal is to raise a well-adjusted kid who is secure with both her parents.

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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