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Never married father wonders how to stop chaos and conflict involving young child and with no existing court orders

Your Question:
Me and my ex were never married but were engaged to be when she was pregnant. She had our daughter and was living with me at my apartment for about 9 months before she left me. Now I was on probation for a while and went to jail for a couple days 2 or 3 times but only to keep myself from spending the full 90. she moved into her grandmothers house and had no car. I had a car and was picking up our daughter and spending about 50 percent of the month with her. i was not paying child support because we thought that 50 percent of the time spent with the child means we both contribute equaly to her needs and wants. At our daughters 11th month she met a new guy and moved in with him about 3 months later. Him and I didnt really see eye to eye on the way that things worked out and he kept calling me a looser. I tried to control myself but once in a while him and I would start yelling at each other on the phone because when I was having a conversation with my ex he would listen in, jump in and start arguing with me if something was said that he didnt like. Now he was or still is an alcoholic and I came home from rehab and went to see our daughter but saw him and her at their friends house laying hungover with one other baby and ours playing on the floor with beer bottles and a puke bucket lying across the floor. This is when I really started to feel our daughter was not in a fit environment and was being raised by two uneducated, uncompassionate people that knew nothing about raising children. I say this because my ex never graduated high school and never tried to get a GED and is only 23 with 2 children out of wed-lock. Her husband has no plans for college nor does she. It took me about a year of fighting and dealing with them before I was able to set up a constant "every other weekend" visitation with her despite my efforts to try to split visitation down the middle. A little later she was asking for child support and I told her I didn't have a problem with paying but she was telling me that if I didn't pay a certain amount, she would not let me see our daughter. At this time no order was ever givin reguarding these matters. Seeing how I am on disability and cannot afford to give her this amount I told her that I would call the police if she refused the 100 dollars a month. She accepted the offer but every time I droped off our daughter I had to put up with hearing her new husband wispering slanderous remarks to me and he has even left threatening messages on my phone which I have recorded.

I am one year and 5 months out of jail from serving the full 90 and took on a new aproach to life seeing how my old way was not working. I go to meditation classes now and save up money for things that are needed and live with my father and help him with his business once every other day. However my ex and her husband have been jobless for about a month now and still insist I am a looser and a bad father. They live in a rural area in a small beat up trailer and also have a new child of their own (that makes the 2, ours and theirs). I keep recipets of all payments made to her and want to take her to court to explain the situation and try to get joint custody. I am sure that the house I live in is at least twice as safe as their little trailer and she has more friends here and a little uncle that is 5 to play with. I never needed her help with money nor will I ever but she has came to me crying before because her and her husband are in a difficult place. Now our daughter has no health insurance but would have it if my ex would only allow me to take her 7 more days out of the month so I can put her on my health plan that I get from social security but she is too greedy to accept that condition. I am also positive that our daughters full potential will never be met with the way she is being raised now and with the current means to do so by those two. How good of a chance do you think I have of getting joint custody of our daughter in a trial?

Our daughter is now 3 and loves coming over here and learns very quickly if only tought the right way. I need to be able to show her possibilities that they will never be able to show her with how they live their lives now. They show no desire to change despite my efforts to reconsile with her husband, even with the new smile and nod aproach I give every time we meet. I at least want to be treated fairly in the upbringing of our daughter.

I also want to know; How long can it take for a child support order to finally go through so they serve me and I can finally pay a fair price to her? also how long can it take to get a right to visitation order instated or even a custody trial? please wright back, I am very concerned about my daughters future. thank you.

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My Answer:

You remind me of that guy on the TV show "My Name is Earl". That character realized that his immoral ways were screwing up his life. So his new life is about doing good, which rewards him.

I have a few suggestion for you:

1. Don't worry about what your ex or her husband say TO you. It really doesn't matter, so long as you know the truth about yourself. DO worry about what they tell the child about you (addressed later).

2. Don't get so hung up on the mother's living conditions. All you can do is control your own living conditions. If the environment that the mother has created for the child is unacceptable (i.e., "unacceptable" is far worse than "barely average"), then you initiate court proceedings to take custody of the child. You can also file a complaint with child protective services, but that will be a huge backfire against you if they conclude the complaint is unfounded. So... you can't get the mother to clean up her act... all you can do is ACT on it if her life gets so bad.

3. You will live a chaotic, conflict-ridden life until you have court orders for support, custody, and parenting schedule. Once you have court orders, you have law enforcement and a judge to help you enforce the orders. No arguing, no yelling, no disagreement-- everyone follows the orders, or someone's gonna get in trouble. That's it.

4. Your past sucks, in terms of standing before a judge. If your offenses didn't involve violence, at least that's a bit better. To try to show a judge how seriously you've changed and how ready you are to be a responsible parent, I suggest any or all of the following:

  • Volunteer at a place that interests you, and do it regularly (at least once a week) for a while. Help at the animal shelter, at a hospital, at the library, or any other place that does good work. Six months later, you'll have someone who can say to a judge how you're a reliable, caring volunteer.

  • If the new you includes a discovery of faith, attend church or temple regularly. Join discussion groups or other activities. Again, six months later, you'll have a priest or a rabbi who can say what a nice, faith-based man you are. Only do this if you're sincere, though. Taking the Lord's name in vain (i.e., faking "religion") won't win you any kharma points.

  • Find a local parenting class. Attend it through completion. The instructor's letter of completion will be beneficial for you in court.

Now, here's what I think you'd want to ask from the court (and court orders would take hold immediately, once you have your hearing), and these clauses are in addition to getting orders for parenting time, joint legal custody, and child support per state guideline:

  • Neither parent shall make disparaging remarks (about the other parent) to the child or within earshot of the child. Neither parent will allow others to make disparaging remarks (about the other parent) within earshot of the child.

  • Neither parent is to use illicit drugs while exercising custody of the child.

  • Neither parent is to leave the child in the care of an adult who is consuming alcohol, or who will be consuming alcohol while caring for the child.

  • There is to be no verbal communication at all between parents at custody exchanges. Parents shall arrange the exchanges in a way that parents' spouses will have no contact with the other parent.

Those are orders that can go in place immediately, as part of temporary orders resulting from a hearing.

Prior to a final ruling (i.e., via a trial), get orders for a custody evaluation. There should be enough accusations flying back and forth that the judge will want an evaluator to try to figure out what is going on in each home. The custody evaluator can look at the home conditions and can listen to things like what you have recorded, along with interviewing you and reviewing anything else you have that's relevant. The evaluator will make a recommendation to the court as to what the final custody arrangement should be.

I can only go off the information you provide, and I can only assume it's true. If you stay on the right track with yourself, if you do the work to be an involved community member and informed parent, and if you learn how to put your case together; I think you have a good shot at joint custody, and you may find yourself with primary custodial time.

Get one of the books on my Recommended Books page. "Win Your Child Custody War" and/or "Child Custody A to Z" would both be helpful to you in building your case.

Also, keep a journal of every negative interaction you have with your ex and her husband. Date each entry, and keep it factual (not emotional or venting). E.g., "February 28, 2006. Went to pick up CHILD NAME at 6pm from MOTHER NAME. HUSBAND came out of house, said I should "take my loser ass off his property, or else he'll stick a baseball bat down my throat". I told him I was there to pick up child. He refused to cooperate, and I left."

You have a ton of work to do... and if you succeed, your reward is a child who can grow up to be a healthy young adult. Get cracking.


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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