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Separating father wonders if he can get joint custody of 3-year-old son and any visitation with stepkids

Your Question:
wife wants primary custody of our son with me seeing him only on every other week end and She wants me to have him only two weeks out of the year ,to carry insurance and to pay all of the non-covered charges for health and to pay her child support and to let her claim him on her taxes. I propose that since I love my young son ,who is less than 3 years old , that I wanted joint custody. To have equal time with him. She works late at night sometimes and can't be there with him and her "friend" watchs him then --I want him then he needs his father and his father needs and wants him. Is it possible to get joint custody of my child and to have every other year on taxes and to have a better health issue? What if there are children, Which there are, from a- nother relationship she had. I have raised these children for the year before and the whole time of our marriage can I get some sort of visitation rights to see them? I love these other children, too.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

Myself included, people at the start of the process want to know "Is it possible? What are my chances? Should I go for it?"

Years later, I know that anything is possible, so those questions are pointless.

If you don't try for what you think is best for the kids, I can assure you that you have 0% chance of success. If you do your best to secure what you think is best for them, your odds are higher than 0%. It doesn't take a professional gambler to figure out which direction has better odds, right?

With regard to your stepkids, you'll have to consult with an attorney in your area. My guess would be that chances are slim that you'd get court orders to remain involved in their lives, unless you adopted them. The biological parents typically get to decide with whom their children associate. But, the court also has some discretion to make decisions "in the children's best interest", so maybe there's some way to do it. This doesn't mean that your sentiment is "wrong" or invalid... I'm just explaining as a layperson how I believe the law works, and it's not always about what's fair to everyone.

With regard to your own son, in another email (not posted) you described that you and the mother have largely been equally involved in his upbringing. I think this makes you a very good candidate for joint custody, but it's still going to require some serious effort.

However, with every passing day that the mother is asserting herself as the primary caretaker, your chances decrease.

Hence, you need to find an attorney ASAP, and you need to file for joint custody ASAP. In your action, include affadavits (sworn written declarations) from teachers, daycare providers, neighbors, pediatricians, etc that really make you out to be a 50%+ caretaker to this chid.

Also, I strongly recommend that you invest $70 into Win Your Child Custody War by Hardwick. There's a link to it on my Recommended Books page. Dollar for dollar, it will be your most important expenditure of money during this process for you, as it will quickly bring you up to speed on how to strategize and put together the relevant information that will be important to the court.

About once a month, I find myself telling a person that waiting to take action will have a severe negative impact on their case. You're such a guy. You need to act pronto, before enough time goes by that the mother shows that you've hardly contributed to any parenting at all across several months.

Good luck, and please let me know what happens.


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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