September 17, 2010,
A.P. asks from Reading, PA on September 11, 2010
Visitation Rights for Father Living with New Girlfriend
The father of my 1 1/2 year old daughter and I have never been married. We never went to court for custody, he pays 45.00 a week in child support. We worked things out stating that he can come see her anyday anytime he wants being that i'am a stay at home mom and live with my parents. A couple days ago he moved into his new girlfriends apartment and is claiming that he now has his own home and should be able to take my daughter over there. He does not drive, have a car or license so his new girlfriend who ive never met would have to come pick up my daughter and take my daughter to her apartment which i have never been to either. He claims they have been dating for four months but yet he never mentioned her to me. She is 20 with 3 kids of her own and he is 21. Im not comfortable with him taking our daughter over to this girls house or having her drive my daughter anywhere. I dont work and stopped going to college to be home with my daughter and im very overprotective of her. He is now threatening me stating that if i dont let them take her for a couple days/hours a week that he will take me to court for visitation to get alot more than a couple hours. My daughter is only one and 1/2 he has never changed her diaper, he comes by once a week or less and never pays attention to her just sits on his cell phone and leaves right away. She still isn't comfortable around him and i do not trust him, or this girl taking my daughter. What would he be able to get if we go to court? What can I do to keep the new girlfriend away from my daughter? I don't want to let them take her but im also scared that if i don't let them they will go to court and get more rights. Please help me
So What Happened?™
Thanks for the advice!
A.C. answers from Houston on September 11, 2010
I would be pro-active and take steps to file the order yourself. The care of your daughter, both physically and fiscally, is the most important thing here. Nobody in this situation sounds particularly mature or able to make objective decisions in the best interest of the child...loathe as I am to say it, better to have a third party oversee things.
You can, in Texas anyway, require that he complete parenting class(es) before he gets any overnight visitation as part of the order--you may be required to do so as well. Since he is paying support, he could righfully claim that the child DOES have a car seat--the one you use--and that he contributed to buying it.
You can also include clauses about the consumption of alcohol when he has custody of the child.
Unless the orders state otherwise, he can appoint an agent to act in his stead (i.e. girlfriend picking him up). He does have to inform you...and likely in writing....if he is to have someone else act for him so you are sure to hand over the child to the correct person. You could probably request that something is written into the orders, but remember that it will affect you too. What is good for the gander is good for the goose.
There are plenty of families where dads don't know the first thing about changing a diaper or bathing a child...and they live in the same house! Cut the guy some slack, give him a chance to know his daughter, and enjoy the little break it could give you to take some online classes or something.
Odds are that he'll lose interest...four kids can be a lot to handle. Playing house is only fun for a while. Reality eventually sets in. You'll come out better if you play nice.
P.S. Depending on his income and how your states calculates support, $45 may be exactly what you would get with an order. However, you'd also be entitled to help with other expenses (i.e. medical).
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M.P. answers from Portland on September 11, 2010
I urge you to get to know the girl friend and her children. Perhaps first invite the girl friend and your ex over for coffee. That way you can see how they are together and how they react to your baby. Talk with them, in a calm way about your concerns and ask them to help work this situation out so that everyone is comfortable.
It is best to resolve this without court involvement if at all possible. When custody and visitation issues go to court they tend to be adversarial creating bad feelings and more anger. I understand your concerns and I suggest that they are based on your fear of the unknown. Once you know the other mother and her living arrangement you may feel differently.
If you do end up in court you want to be able to say that you tried without going to court. If you haven't tried to get to know her, the court will tell you to do so and most likely give you and your baby's father a definite visiting schedule.
If you're not comfortable getting to know the other mom and her situation on your own, enlist the help of a friend, your mother, or an older person who can remain neutral and help you feel more assured in taking the steps to get to know her. You can also go thru a mediator. Some attorneys offer mediation. The court does and you may be able to utilize their mediator to avoid going to court. Call the courthouse family law division and ask about mediation.
It's legitimate to ask to see information about her car insurance and to get a copy of her DMV driving record.
I agree with you to not just let her pick up your daughter and take her to her home. It's common sense to get to know her first. She should understand your concerns and be willing to get to know you first, also.
This is a big change for everyone. Change is scary and managing our fears during change can be difficult. You will get thru this. Keep a positive attitude focusing on what is best for your baby in the long run. Visiting in her home could be a very good thing. Her father doesn't pay much attention to her now. This could open the way for a better relationship between them.
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K.B. answers from Harrisburg on September 11, 2010
Don't let him scare or intimidate you. You hold the cards. You are the main caregiver and have physical custody. You've been the nice one here. Let him know exactly what you told us. Now, if he wants to compromise he'll do it your way of you'll cut things off and what judge is going to allow a strange woman to drive a baby around. He doesn't even have a license? He's living with HER? That's not HIS home. The judge will see this. SHE has to drive him around? The judge will see this. SHE has 3 other children that distracts from his attention from his own baby, and they're not HIS children. It's not about letting THEM see the baby. It's about HIM. She is not in the equation. What if the situation were reversed? Would he be ok with you moving in with some guy he didn't know and having him tend to HIS daughter?
The compromise is that you need to get to know this woman. This is not his wife. That would be a different story. But a girlfriend with 3 kids? He can't even get his OWN apartment? He can't get a driver's license? He can't get a car? If being independent and caring for his daughter on his own is important then he would have done these things on his own. You need time to meet this "girlfriend" and the daughter as well needs to get to know this woman. You need to trust that this woman meets your child's needs. And the other 3 children as well. What do you know about these children? How old are they? Dad will be the one to change diapers and feed her and bathe her and put her to bed, not pawning her off on the girlfriend and then she later gets resentful. What if the relationship doesn't work out? How will your daughter handle this if she gets an attatchment to this woman?
You need to meet and get to know this woman, along with your daughter and her children. And remind him that he may go to court and maybe he may get more time with the baby, but no judge is going to let him get away with paying a tiny amount of $45 week in child support! Remind him of that! Is his name on the birth certificate, or are you just being nice? You are being nice and letting him get away with a lot and he needs to be reminded that he's got it lucky and don't push your buttons or things will get hard on HIM. Tell him to play nice and on your terms to compromise or PLEASE have him to take you to court. He won't like the results.
mom to 5 including triplets
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K.K. answers from Minneapolis on September 11, 2010
I have been the girlfriend. When I met my now hubby he only saw his daughter when her mother allowed it. So it was once a week for a few hours. And it got worse when she found out I was in the picture.
I encourged my hubby to become a better dad and see his daughter more. It was an up hill battle with her mother. They ended up in court and he got everyother weekend and had to pay more support (that was worth it) Then a few year later she with held visitation and they went to court again.
This time he became the primary parent, she now got everyother weekend and one night a week. The judge was so mad with her.
I agree with some of the other people as much as you dont like it you have to get comfortable with it. Meet this other woman, she may be a good person, and give him a chance to be a better dad. You never know he may surprise you.
Plus it sound like when he is over your watching his every move I would guess you make him uncomfortable. Let your guard down a bit, give him a longer rope. Start with meeting them at a park and you got a for a walk while they play. Your daughter (from the sounds of it) has never been alone with her dad.
1 mom found this helpful
K.U. answers from Detroit on September 11, 2010
I would speak with an attorney and see what they have to say.
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T.F. answers from Philadelphia on September 12, 2010
well first off...how many bedrooms do thye have in their apartment? And as for him not having a license etc.. i dont think he would be allowed to take her. But i do not know what the laws are in NJ. As for overnight visits, you can fight them simply because she is soo young and he has never had her overnight or even by himself (without you there). So you would have to state that you want very slow and gradual steps towards him having more time. (its called reunification) However you would have to state that she needs an appropriate crib, car seat and safety measures inside the home when that time comes. You can not say to the courts that you dont want her with the new girlfriend cause they will say well if he has an appropriate place to live it doesnt matter what you want. So you can tell him he can take you to court for custody but if he does that you will then take him for more child support (and depending on what kind of job he has, you could get more) and that you will also fight him on it. If the GF has 3 kids but only lives in a 2bdrm, then it would be inappropriate for your daughter to stay overnights. If he has no car/license how is he going to transport your daughter (ecspecially if she has 3 kids and where is the car seat going to go or does she have a big enough car for 4 children?) Well you have to just sit down and write all this down and then go from there. good luck, i am going through the same thing and it will not end!!! at least for me it hasnt.
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J.D. answers from Washington DC on September 11, 2010
In my state, Maryland, there is a website (I think that it is md.state.gov) where you can go and look at anyones record, if they have one. Things such as parking and speeding tickets aren't listed, but other things are, such as divorce, DUI's, etc. Maybe you could find a similar site for your state (every state has one), and look up your ex and the girlfriend. Make sure that neither of them have a criminal background. Then go from there. Good luck.
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D.B. answers from Boston on September 11, 2010
If you go to court, he will have to prove that he has a car seat, a crib, and other items necessary for a toddler. My guess is, he doesn't. My guess is, his girlfriend (with 3 kids at 20? They're all in car seats & cribs!) doesn't have room in her car for a 4th toddler.
He DOES have rights but he has to prove responsibility. You can tell the judge that he has not changed her diaper, doesn't play with her, etc. Get a lawyer or get some low cost help from legal aid.
Meantime, I would have him start by taking her out around the block in a stroller instead of sitting in your living room with a cell phone. If she's in the stroller, she won't see that it's him pushing her. You can follow at a safe distance if you want. My guess is, he won't take her. He probably wants his girlfriend to watch her. Maybe he's trying to impress her with his good parenting? Put his own child into the mix of 3 other kids who aren't his? I'm not sure.
Your child has rights and needs to be in a safe environment. I would tell him you (or the court) will want to see the apartment and space your daughter will be occupying. Let him show you her crib (make sure there are 4!) and her changing table and where her diapers are.
Don't let him muscle you. Learn your rights. Your issue is NOT the girlfriend - if your child's father can prove he is a good parent, attentive, etc., then he has rights. Focus on him and what's lacking there, not whether you've met this woman or whether or not you like her. The courts care about the parents and the child only.
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S.H. answers from Detroit on September 11, 2010
He is the father and he does have rights and the court will most likely not care about your concerns. It is highly unlikely that you would be able to stop her from being around your daughter either; she hasn't done anything wrong... You are just really uncomfortable and concerned, but it is based on nothing that the court would see as valid reasons. Personally,I would try to work this out without involving the court. Get to know the girlfriend... She is a mom, so she may understand your fear/concern if you just try to work with them instead of fight a losing battle. He will probably get more rights to her if this goes to court, including overnights.
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S.D. answers from Grand Rapids on September 11, 2010
If they go to court, he will get more rights to the child. They will probably set it up that he can still see her during the week one or two days, and then give him every other weekend. So if you want to keep some control over when he sees the daughter, I would suggest trying to work things out. Why not offer to drive the daughter to his house. then you can see the apartment and be close by. Why not ask to meet the girlfriend. Let him know that you just want to know the people that will be in your daughters life.
the courts won't care.
Unfortuantly he is the dad, so he does have rights. You can go speak to a lawyer about everything as well, but if going to court, the courts won't listen to you much at all. As you said you are overprotective, and that's what the courts will see as well. There isn't a valid reason to keep the daughter from him. Maybe this girlfriend in his life will be a good thing though. Maybe he will start seeing your daughter more and have a relationship with her. Does the dad see that the daughter isn't comfortable with him around. one thing you can do to change that, is when he comes over next, leave the room, and just let him be there with the daughter. And see what happens. Make sure to leave diapers handy as well. you can be in another room, just not where your daughter sees you. It is better that you can get the daughter comfortable with the dad, and have you still around, then the dad coming to take her with her not wanting to go.
Unlike what others have said, he doesn't have to prove that he has ANYTHING for the child. He is the father, and that alone gives him rights with the court. If you go the court route he doesn't have to show that he has anything that the child needs. He will need a carseat to transport the child,b ut other than that the courts won't care if he has a crib, or anything else.
It could take some time to go through the court process, but as well, it can be really quickly as well, since you aren't filing a divorce or anything of that nature. The courts could turn around and file the visitation while they are doing the rest of the paperwork, and hearings. So then the father will have the visitiation quickly.
If you have a support order, you can't stop the girlfriend from picking up your daughter. Since she is acting in response to the father, than she can pick up the daughter. you will want to verify that in your state. I know my step son's mom tried to prevent me at times from picking him up, and the courts said that can't happen. She allowed it at times, and other times said no. The courts said since I was acting on behalf of the father, I had every right to pick him up. And this was before we were married she was told that.
As much as you want to control the situation, the best place to do that is outside of court. He may be pushing court for a number of reasons. Just because he hasn't pursued it before doesn't mean he won't.
And in regards to child support, it doesn't matter how much he is paying you. You agreed to that amount. If going to court, you can agree to keep that amount, or let the court decide how much he needs to pay. but they base it on a number of factors, so you dont' know, if it will go up or down.
And just becuase he doesn't have money for some things, doesn't mean he won't fight you. In MIchigan you don't need a lawyer at all to do anything with custody, visitation or support. So he may be able to take you to court no problem.
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K.B. answers from St. Louis on September 11, 2010
I have been the girlfriend too (although in a slight different situation as my boyfriend took 6 months to have his daughter even meet me, and after a year and a half, is just now starting to bring her over regularly because I am the mother of her sibling. She still does not do overnights even though we live together, but he is planning to change that once we move to a bigger apartment). For the most part the going to court thing could be an empty threat. I know I have seen a lot of guys say that and then not actually do anything about it. However, just because you do not agree with his relationship status and the fact that he's living with her, most courts will not care. To them, as long as the gf is not doing anything wrong to your child, then he has a right to be able to take his daughter around whoever he sees fit. Now, as a girlfriend who was in a similar situation, I actually wanted to meet the mother because I wanted her to be comfortable with the idea that her daughter was around me. (She didn't want to meet me, but that is a different story). If you feel like he doesn't know a lot about parenting, the court could order him to take a parenting class. But either way, your uncomfortableness in this situation won't matter much to them unless you have a valid reason (i.e. your daughter is being placed in harm). He is the father and he does have rights to have up to full custody of her. I also highly doubt you could get an order stating that she can't pick up the child or be around the child. Either way, eventually your daughter is going to be around women that he is dating and even guys that you start dating. It is important that both of you are comfortable with this idea and trust each other as parents and not resent the newcomers in each others lives.
I also agree with a lot of people that it is probably good for you to get to know the girlfriend. Yea she may only have been around for 4 months, and you may think shes a bad choice to expose your child to, but unfortunately he can still do it. Might as well get to know her while she is around so at least your own discomfort can be at ease for the few times that he takes her. Who knows, you may actually even like her. Then you can avoid nasty custody and visitation battles.
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D.F. answers from Boston on September 11, 2010
HIe is the father and he also has rights. I would be ready to go to court. Good Luck!
J.J. answers from Allentown on September 12, 2010
Some of this depends on the actual situation. If he is on the birth certificate, then legally he is her father. Even if he is not on the birth certificate, but has been ordered to pay child support, he legally took responsibility or they gave a paternity test and either way he is legally her father. He could easily get partial custody. Unfortunately he only needs a place for her to sleep for over nights, and that could be a pack-n-play or something similar like a porta-crib. He does not need a crib, only a bed of some sort for her, even a crib mattress on the floor would qualify or a twin bed with bed rails or on the floor, believe it or not. He does not need to be able to drive and he does not need a car seat if he will not be driving her. He could take the bus and legally you don't need a car seat on the bus at that age. If by chance he is not legally her father, if the money is just something he decided to do and he is not on the birth certificate and has never been proven to be her father, he will have to go to court and spend a bit of time and money to prove all of that first(many don't follow through with this), so if that is the situation you will much more leverage. If he is not legally her father, you can likely dictate whatever you want until he actually files for paternity. At which point you could negotiate, but I suspect since he already is paying that legally he is her father, so he does have the right to go to court, now it does take some time and money and again he may only be threatening. Honestly, if he is paying and you want his support, this gives him some rights. If you don't want the financial support, you could always say he can stop paying if he stays away(this won't work though if it is court ordered payment). But some guys will go away when they are no longer financially responsible, it is sad but true. I f you do want the support and want him involved if your daughters life, then I would work on compromise. Let him see her at his house, but you go along the first time and meet everyone then, spend some time so your daughter is comfortable with everyone. Then next time you drop her off, stay a bit and then go, and then have a set time you will pick her up. Keep the initial visits short but tell him if all goes well, you can increase the time together to what you are both comfortable with. This is going to mean compromise for both of you and will both have to do things and give in to things you don't want to. You letting your daughter stay with him, him not getting as much time as wanted initially. But both of you need to know that is not about either of you but about your child and what is best for her. You can ask him to take some parenting classes first as part of the agreement. And you need to make sure she is going somewhere safe, and if you feel it isn't, then you can back out and tell him why and that you will take him to court. I truly hope you can work something out that is best for your daughter. I am not married to my daughters father either and at first he did the visits to my house and talked about taking her but never pushed it further. He never did take her, and eventually lost interest. It is sad my daughter does not have a father in her life, but honestly in our situation she is better off without him(not all situations are the same and most kids are better off having a father in their life). So take some time and really think about this. I hope it works out for you.
D.S. answers from Allentown on September 11, 2010
Contact your local mediation center in the town where you live or nearby and see about family mediation.
Good luck. D.
J.S. answers from Philadelphia on September 17, 2010
A. P. I see you have a good deal of responses here both pro and con. You are going to have a connection with her father for the rest of your life. You would be better off cooperating with him unless your daughter life is in danger. It would be wise to meet his girlfriend and and children and see how she tends to them. She may be a great mom which may help you feel more comfortable letting your daughter go with her father. On a more personal note get back to school get a degree so that you can make a better life for you and your daughter. You can not live on 45 dollars a week or depend on your parents forever. She will need and want things as she grows up and if you have the means to support your child on your own and her father is not a good influence then courts would be more willing to rule in your favor, also if you are able to do for yourself and your daughter you will feel much better Good Luck
J.M. answers from Scranton on September 12, 2010
you may as well get to know the girlfriend cause wheather you like itornot you daughter is going to be spending time with her. i have a 7 year old daughter with my ex husband. when she was tiny he would come around maybe 1 or 2 times a week, he wouldn't take her by himself. when she was about 2 he got a girlfriend and wanted to start taking her as they moved in together. i knew it was pointless to argue or go to court cause he is her father and i knew he would get what he wanted. now all these years later he is still with her and my daughter goes to their house every other weekend sometimes more if he wants. although i still don't care for the girlfriend, i think she is a b*$#%, but she does treat my daughter good and she likes her. I still would rather my daughter not go but i know i can't do that. good luck.
A.K. answers from Philadelphia on September 13, 2010
Hi A., I work in Family Law so know the situation quite well. Unfortunately, he does have rights as a parent if he is home to have your daughter a few hours here and there however, you may just want to sit back and let him take you to Court first (unless he's only saying it as a scare tactic) but then that way you can request through the Court that he take a parenting class as he never has changed a diaper or truly "parented" her. Also state that you are not comfortable w/another young mother transporting her back and forth since you do not know much about her but be aware, the Court could make you do all the transportation.
The best option truly is to seek the advice of an attorney who practices family law and set you in the right direction and tell you all of your rights. Good luck!
A.H. answers from New York on September 11, 2010
go see a lawyer about all you've said.... i think someone should help you out.. tell them everything you said above.. like he doesn't even do anything when he comes over... better yet make a video of him when he is over.. this will help your case.. good luck
B.O. answers from Portland on September 11, 2010
I think it is worth it for you to call a lawyer and see what your rights are, as well as the child's. I would think even a schedule of so many overnights a month would be better than an "anytime" agreement. It won't be long before you will have the need for more privacy and room to schedule things and live your own life, and a visitation schedule will provide you with the structure for that.
But, at this time, I would not let her take your child anywhere. Let him go to court, it is probably for the best instead of arguing over every GF he is going to have for the next 20 years. It will take at least a year or two for the court process to be completed and by that time your daughter will not be an infant and you be less protective(than you would be with an infant) as she will be more vocal about relaying to you what happens when she is not with you.
I personally think he is just saying he will take you to court as a temporary scare tactic to control your decisions. If he really wanted more than just to have a few hours a week he would have pursued that long ago, whether in or out of court. Honestly, I think this whole thing can go to mediation with the agreement of a few hours a week visitation retained, because it takes a lot of sacrifice to care for a small child overnight. I think if you told the mediator/judge that he was sporadic in his open visitation, and that you would be willing to extend the visitation if he was consistent with the few hours he has now, he would probably be granted a year to prove his consistency without overnights.
When you go to court, you have to be clear what outcome you want, and articulate that. Leave out all the concern about the GF. Articulate that you want consistency for your child regarding visitations. Always talk about the best interest of the child, not your personal feelings about the fathers life/GF. Even when you talk to your own lawyer, always talk about the rights of the child, and the desired outcome: consistency. Your lawyer can only represent you in the way you present yourself.
You can call the legal-aid in your area for representation and council, they are usually free or low-cost. If I were you I would file for full legal custody and a formal support order ASAP. You need to do this, because right now his "rights" are uncapped. He could literally take her one day and keep her if he chose to since there is no custody order and you have acknowledged him as the father. The police would do nothing without custody papers.
T.W. answers from Denver on September 11, 2010
As scary as it sounds, I would take the court route (if he really even goes this route, might be a bluff). No way would I let some girlfriend of 4 months take my baby!!!! It is an unknown what the courts will decide but in reality what case does the father have, he pays you hardly nothing, he hasn't taken her to this point, he doesn't drive or even have his own place. He sounds like a joke. I say risk it, you need to get something concrete by the court system to protect your daughter. I didn't even address the fact that this girl is 20 with 3 KIDS!! WHAT? Sure doesn't look good.
You don't know this girl, they haven't been dating very long, he doesn't even know this girl. Just stand your ground, let it go now and you will have a long life many girlfriends influencing your daughter. The last thing I would want is to teach my daughter that running around living with guys all the time, having 3 babies by 20 is just nuts.
I think the dad is just bluffing anyways, if he cannot get a car, he won't be able to afford a court battle. Good luck and good job worrying about your daughter.