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Never-married father of a toddler has good parenting relationship with mother; he wants to know how to solidify the current arrangement without upsetting the apple cart


Your Question:
I am the Proud Parent of a 2 year old lil angel girl.

I was there from the day she was born, we did submit a peternity test in may (She was born in April). For the 5 months we did not know she was mine, I moved in with my ex. When test came back saying she was mine we were estatic. we continued to live together and share the load. come december, she had some fidelity issues, and I moved out.

since then I have flawlessly paid and recorded an agreed amount of chilkd support, which hasnt been an issue for either of us.

heres where it gets mucky

The mother lives in a different state from me now.

When our daughter was born, obviously cause of the paternity issue, my ex decided to give the child her last name. Since then, we agreed to have my name added on...that was a year ago.

Technically I dont believe I have any custody at all. even though I have her at bare minimum 3 days a week, and Im paying an agreed on child support (I give her 500.00 a month)

So, with the mother its troubled waters.

10 years ago, when she was 19 and serving in the military she had her baby taken away from her exhusband, so its a uber-sensative issue for her. almost umbeareable to bring up.

how do I go about ensuring that I do have some sort of legal custody, prefferably 50/50. when the state administered paternity test came back, we had to goto court once, in which we told them we had a relationship in good standing, and were living together.

Im rather fortunate, 2 years later the mother & I have a good rapport, and I dont wanna do anything to ruin that.

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My Answer:
Hi,

I'll start with the end first.

It sounds like everything is about as well as you could hope currently, given the distance between you two and the fact that you're separated.

Your last line is key, that you don't want to do anything to mess up your working relationship with mom. You're aware of her sensitivity to the issues, so that's a good thing.

I'm not clear on whether any custody was ordered or not at the time of the hearing back then, but it sounds like it was never ruled on.

I suggest that you try to find a way to test the waters as gently as possible. Sometime when you and she are talking about parenting stuff, you may want to say something like, "I've read that when kids start to get older and whatever, that many parents have parenting plans that they work from. It sounds cool that maybe we can sit down over margaritas or something and perhaps write down some agreements about how we want to raise her and things like that."

If an approach like that really bristles her fur, then you know to back off any further discussion. If she's receptive, you can talk further... about the scheduling of parenting, how you two will make decisions about things like preschool, medical decisions, things like that. It's a business relationship, in terms of how to draw this up. When she's comfortable with how it's going, that you're not trying to screw her (and vice versa), you'll have that written document that at some point you'll want to convert into court orders.

The good thing is that you already have on record that you're the father (from that first hearing). So, if she reacts negatively and starts restricting your access to your daughter, you'll more quickly get court orders for a custodial schedule than a never-married dad who never had paternity established.

If things turn sour, and if she starts to block your ability to be a parent, you'll have to hire an attorney ASAP and take it to the court.

In the meantime, beginning today, start keeping a personal log of all the times that you spend with your daughter (i.e., log start time and end time). It may be handy in the future to show an evaluator or judge that you have typically spent time with your child on 3+ days per week, for more than a year. The "status quo" arrangement counts heavily in a final custody ruling.

Good luck.

Eric





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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