July 31, 2009,
B.B. asks from Vacaville, CA on July 25, 2009
Seeking Advice..My Babys Father Lives in Another State and Wants Visitation
So Im in a really hard situation right now and I dont know what to do. I have a one year old daughter (13 months). I was not married to her father but we were both in the military, and we were together for about 2 and a half years. When we broke up and I got out of the military and came back home to be around my family. He had to move to Texas, because he is still in the military and that was his next assignment. I was orginally going to move down to Texas so that our daughter could be around both her mom and her dad. But then I decided not to because I didnt want to live thousands of miles away from home with no support, a child, and no for sure job. So now he is in Texas and Im in California with our daughter. He was a really good father to her and he still is. We didnt go throgh the court, but he is paying me child support. Its been really hard on me to do everything by myself and it breaks my heart that my baby cant see her father. Last night me and her father got into a big argument. Basically I was telling him that he should get out of the military so that he can be with his daughter. I told him that hes basically choosing a job over having a relationship with her. I got out so that I could be a better mom and not have to be separated from her, so why cant he. He is unwilling to get out, but he still wants to have a relationship with her. He wants her to come out to Texas and stay with him for a little bit. At first, I though it was okay, but then I decided that it will be harmful on my daughter. She needs to have at least one stable loving parent that is in her life and its not fair for her to have to go back and forth. Im not even comfortable having her go there for a couple weeks because I think she is too young to understand that. Now he is saying that we need to go to court and that im not allowing her to see him. Am I wrong for not wanting our daughter to go to another state and be away from me when she is only 13 months? He isnt willing to give up his job, so why would my daughters childhod have to suffer because of his selfishness. I told him he can come over here and visit her, but I dont want her being away from me. I feel guilty to keep him from seeing her, but what else am i supposed to do. Im just trying to make sure my daughter does not get affected by all this. Please give me your advice. Should I risk everything and move out there so that she can be around him, or is it up to him to sacrifice to have a relationship with his daughter.
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A.C. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2009
I'll have advice for you tomorrow when I sleep on it and calm down. Right now I'm an extremely pissed off military wife of 18 years.
L.W. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2009
Whatever you do, your daughter will be affected by, this is her life, after all.
The idea is to pick the thing that will work best, and I can't believe going to court will accomplish that.
You seem to be saying your ex is a good man, and can be a good father.
That is a great starting point.
Sounds as if you are settled in California, and he will be moving around with the military - let's take that for given.
You don't really have much grounds for pushing him around about his job choice.
He HAS a job, and that is the good thing.
With any luck, one of these days he might be able to get posted to California, and that will make things easier for you both.
For now, bear in mind that your daughter is growing every day.
The things she needs now aren't what she'll need in five years, or even two, so your decisions for now are based on those needs now.
I think you are right that she isn't ready to go off alone for a couple of weeks.
So, do you have a job?
Is there any reason you can't fly to Texas with her.
Can he find you somewhere inexpensive to stay, and let him have some good alone time with his kid?
And can you find a cheap place for him to stay out here?
Trade off visits for a while.
And this is the plan for the next, say, two years.
And tell him, two years, and then we re-think things.
Maybe he'll be closer by then.
Maybe she'd be more at a fly alone on a direct flight?
(Hmmm... myself, I think that is more like a six or seven year-old.)
But maybe she'd be at fly out together and drop off, and you don't have to be staying nearby.
But most importantly, present it all as a dynamic package: we set something up and see how it works for a while, then we evaluate it and maybe make a change.
But, hey, off his back about the job because it really isn't your place to ask for a change.
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C.C. answers from Fresno on July 27, 2009
I think it's commendable that your baby's father wants to have a relationship with her and see her more often, and that he pays child support on time, etc. For sure she is too young to go see Daddy by herself though. You would have to go with her, or he would have to come see you. Maybe you can work something out where you travel there or he travels to you on long weekends or holidays. I think it's worth it to encourage the relationship between your daughter and her father, even if your relationship with him isn't that great. Meanwhile, why not try to set up Skype or something similar on your computer so he can see her (and she can see him and hear his voice) a few times per week? Once you have the camera, the rest is free, and would give both of them some contact more frequently. Then when the two of them visit, it won't be such a shock for your daughter - he will seem more familiar. (We have some relatives abroad, and our kids Skype with their cousins all the time - it works great!) Maybe that will resolve the issue without having to go to court?
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K.L. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2009
I don't think you are wrong about your daughter going to another state by herself to visit her father. She is very young right now. However, I do think you are being unreasonable and selfish for telling him to leave the military and that he is choosing it over his daughter. While I understand and can appreciate wanting to be in California near your family for support, you made that choice to move his daughter away from him. You have said that he is a good father and is willingly providing for your daughter on his own accord. It seems like until you brought the "choosing a job over his daughter" issue, things were going well. I would take a step back and try to get the communication back on track. Explain to him why it may be difficult for your daughter to be away from you for an extended period. Maybe you can discuss, taking turns with visits - him coming to California and you and your daughter going to Texas to visit. I am sure he will want some alone time with her during the visits and you will need to honor that, he is her dad. I don't think a few hours alone with him at this age will make her childhood suffer.
My parents divorced when I was young, but the best gift they gave me was working out a plan, so I could have a great relationship with both. Like you and your daughter's father, my parents were able to work things out amongst themselves instead of getting the courts involved. At one point, when I was 8, my dad moved overseas. My mom made a sacrifice for me and moved overseas for a year with me so I could see my dad daily. As an adult I appreciate how much my parents put me first and honored the relationship I had with the other parent.
I hope that you and your daughter's father can come up with a plan where she can develop a relationship with him. I realize that having family support on a daily basis is huge and that is something that is very hard for you to give up. I don't think you have to move to Texas, but I do think you need to work out a consistent plan to provide you daughter time with her father. Give your daughter the opportunity to build the same relationship with her father that you seem to have with your father/family.
I wish you the best in finding a compromise for your daughter's sake.
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A.A. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2009
Well, you've already had a lot of advice, but I will throw in my 2 cents. Honestly, it doesn't seem reasonable for him to leave the military given the state of our economy and it's not exactly simple to leave, not to mention you and he had an agreement that you were going to move out there as well. On the other hand, I can understand you staying where you have support and family.
In my opinion, I think it behooves you to work with him AND legal counsel, preferrably a mediator to help you two work out an agreement that will be legally binding. You are VERY fortunate that he willingly pays child support and wants to be close to his daughter. I only WISH I had your good fortune. Be careful not to hurt the good relations you have for your daughter's sake. Co-parenting is much easier when you two maintain a positive, working relationship.
She may be too young for 2 weeks without you, but she may also do just fine if she has a strong relationship with him and is OK to be without you. Each child is different. A mediator or co-parenting counselor would be able to help you figure out what would be best for her.
Best of luck, my girls' father is in Las Vegas, so I know the challenges you face, but I can also say it can be worked out. At least you have a person who really wants to be involved and do what's best for your daughter, that's a great start!
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R.W. answers from San Francisco on July 26, 2009
One thing you must understand: Dads have rights. He is entitled to visitation or shared custody. If or when he seeks legal counsel, he will obtain his rights, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Non-custodial parents also have responsibilities for their kids---if he were not paying child support, he would be forced to, legally.
So, you are getting your legal rights--support payments and at least half custody, for free and without protest, but he is not getting his rights at all... and you are telling him he is selfish. No wonder he is unhappy with the current situation.
If I were him, I would get a lawyer. If I were you, I would try to arrange a trip to Texas, soon, for three purposes: to give my child and her father some time together, to maintain an amicable relationship with my child's father (this is important for all concerned--you don't want him being infuriated with you, causing you both a lot of expensive legal fees, and causing your daughter to have adversarial parents), and finally, to discuss with him how we could work out some future plan for the benefit of all.
The future plan might eventually involve a lawyer to draw up a simple custody arrangement and guarantee of continuing support payments, and it might involve a lot of discussion, and some compromises from both parties.
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K.L. answers from Redding on July 26, 2009
What makes you think he can just "quit" the military? He cant just say , "gee, I dont want to do this anymore, So I think I will quit". The military doesnt work that way, so Im wondering how it is you got out. If it was possible for a serveceman/woman to get out just because they had a child there wouldnt be so many parents overseas fighting for our rights in a war. There are many children who have BOTH parents in the service and stationed far away and it isnt what they choose, its their JOB. Im sure they would happily, willingly, pack up and move to be near eachother to be near their children if it were possible, but its not. So, you dont want to leave your family, and let your daughter grow up knowing her father sounds pretty selfish on your part. You are free to move, and try and find a job anywhere. He cant. Id be more understanding if he was being sent to Iraq and you didnt want to go. But its Texas. Lots of children grow up in Texas and live to tell. If he is sending you money, working hard, and is good to her, then you owe it to your child to let him see her a reasonable ammount of time. (Some men dont bother to pay, or see their kids, and only live a couple miles away.) And what wonderful career will you have him start in Ca? Have you heard about the budget and economy here? And what if that job transfers him? Do you have a job? What if he moved to be near you and your job transfered you? This is a hard time for everyone so be glad he is as good as he is, and treat him with the respect he deserves and do whats right for your child. If you had married him and had this baby, would you just walk away from him because he was sent to Texas? Im not one to usually snap at people or be rude so I will say Im sorry now if this seems harsh, but I just dont understand where you get the idea he can just "quit" the service.
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C.F. answers from Sacramento on July 26, 2009
It doesn't sound like you have been to family court to determine custody and child support. You need to get this all legally taken care of. If you send her to TX, which I wouldn't do, he can just keep her and then you'll be fighting for custody. My daughter's father got out of the military and left when I was pregnant and hasn't been involved. Even if he wanted to, I would never have sent my baby to TX for an extended visit. Go with her but don't leave her there. Especially without a custody order.
S.K. answers from Sacramento on July 26, 2009
I agree that she is a bit young to be away from you for weeks at a time. I think you guys need to come up with some sort of arangement until she gets older for him to be able to see her. You, however, should not try to make him give up his career because you think it would be better for your daughter. That's his choice to be in the military. Maybe you could suggest that he come to see her when he's on leave until she reaches a suitable age to go to him for several weeks. You may want to go to court, not to fight each other, but to get some helpful ideas on how to deal with the visitation situation.