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Should I go for full custody of my child?

My ex-wife, though we are not divorced yet even though she moved out and long story short tried to take me to the cleaners and steal our daughter away from me, is using our daughter as a tool against me. Though this is nothing new, she has always used our daughter as threat, as a weapon, and method of control.
But when she left she got a really shitty lawyer that even she didn't like, lucky for me. I was about to convince her to put our daughter first, I bought her a house and amongst everything else my lawyer advised me against, I give her money every month.
I did this because lawyers are insanely expensive and figured it was better to give money to her than a lawyer.

But in the two years since she left I have continually tried to work out a schedule that gives us equal time with the child and she constantly complains that I am trying to take more time while she insists on a schedule that gives her more time.
When ever I bring up the issue she gets cold and says "You need to get a judge to decide" rather than just working it out like rational people. Did I mention that one of the reasons she left me was because god gave her a hug and held her hand and indicated she should not stay with me? That's the rational I am dealing with.

So as much as I hate the idea of getting a lawyer again and paying thousands of dollars to do the rational thing, I am thinking to just take it a step further.
As much as I want my daughter to have equal time with both parents, while I take her to the park and zoos and museums and the pool and amusement parks and girl scouts and school activities and library events and pretty much anything to broaden her horizons, Her mother takes her to church and leaves her to watch YouTube as she either sleeps or prays. I'm not saying that is all she does but that is the bulk of it. I am constantly forcing my will as an advocate to my daughter while her mother seems to use denying these activities to our daughter as a way to get control.
I want what's best for my daughter and I don't want to take her away or have her spend less time with her mother but I want control over my daughters activities that will never fall within a tidy schedule.
Simple things like sighing her up for girl scouts or gymnastics or events at the school or library that I want her to attend are clarified as my time even though I encourage her mother to take her.

Am I wrong to want control so that my daughter doesn't miss out? Would being given full custody even give me that control? Is it worth the fight or should I just hope the time she is with me is enough to make her well rounded.

It is maddening to me watching the summer days go by knowing that on the days she is with her mother she is most likely sitting inside watching tv or youtube or being taken to chuch since her mother goes 5-6 times a week for hours at a time leaving our daughter watch her ipad there unless she finds a friend to play with. I take her to the pool or the park or leave her to play with friends when she is with me, that is when I am not taking her to some event or program or other activity.

I know others have been through this so I am asking for your 2 cents.

By ThomasLevi
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42 comments

6

You should do what's best for your daughter. And based on your description, it's not even a close contest.

chilehead9 Level 7 July 4, 2018
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5

You are in a sad spot. Your daughter will have two homes now, that looks pretty certain from your info. I am wondering if it does make good sense for you to get an attorney since you are not divorced. Nothing is settled and moving toward an adjustment out of the marriage. If you get an attorney, you can request a certain amount of time with your daughter. On worrying about what is taking place at your ex’s house, concerning your daughter, I would try and stay away from that worry! I would take in information that your child might report, but I would not interrogat her. If your child has an attentive, loving father that is interested in her...that will be enough on your part! When possible you could try to communicate with your ex, on things about your daughter, but don’t stake your hopes on too much at the moment! Focus on being the best dad that you be for your daughter! Your ex, may have some growing up of her own to do! Try and shift any fear, to a belief that ‘life’ works out everywhere...just not always in a straight line and at the very least don’t undermine your ex in any way. But having some clear boundaries is better for parents and child.

Freedompath Level 8 July 4, 2018
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4

Kids need both parents. This also depends on your state laws. Florida defaults at 50/50. I have 78/22 mostly because my ex took a job 130 miles away before the divorce. I do everything I can to make sure the kids see their mom. It’s not their fault she moved away.

GeekDad13 Level 4 July 5, 2018
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4

I would talk to an attorney about full custody and what your chances may be. If they say you probably won’t get it, I would still hire someone to at least get legal and physical 50/50 so she can’t keep getting more time with your daughter.

Your ex is obviously not rational. You did your best to work with her and compromise. She’s not reciprocating the courtesy....time to make it legal.

Best of luck to you and your daughter!

Marcie1974 Level 8 July 4, 2018
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4

It's a difficult story. Especially since there are always two perspectives. Does your daughter want to live with Dad? That would probably work in your favor if she does. My understanding is that you not paying child support through a court system puts you at a huge disadvantage. So much so that if you take your wife to court and sue for custody, you may be required to pay "back pay" because whatever this-and-thats in financial support you've provided, potentially don't amount to anything unless documented, stamped, accepted, and approved by a judge. Many non custodial parents believe its cheaper and less hassle to simply have an agreement with the custodial parent, until a situation like the one you've described here happens. Also this: When your daughter is with her mother, she is the parent for that time period. And her values and beliefs will be part of the household she keeps. You don't have control. It's the same when your child is with you. Wanting control isn't a very healthy reason to want custody. But if you truly believe yourself just as competent and loving, and if you think it's a benefit and enhancement to the well being of your daughter because you care, I'd fight for custody. I hope for the best outcome for the three of you.

LilAtheistLady Level 7 July 4, 2018
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3

The unfortunate thing is that if you go full custody you will need a lawyer anyway. There are tricks and loopholes that the average person isn't aware of and that a person representing himself might be too close to in order to see even if they do know there are loopholes. The courts tend to still favor the mother, especially in younger children so unless she's doing something abusive or honestly neglectful, they might not give you full custody. However if you are just looking for equal time because she's being controlling and erratic with your time, you might have a case... especially if you have already agreed on joint parenting. You will have to record all your time and keep it as precise as you can. Have witnesses, friends and family members who can confirm things should also be worked out. The more clear you are the more likely you will be able to settle this with a judge on board.

For the record, no, I don't think you are wrong.

AmyLF Level 6 July 4, 2018
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3

Having just wrapped up my own divorce, my advice is get an attorney. Get one yesterday. Then outline what it is you want, and get their professional opinion.

maturin1919 Level 8 July 4, 2018
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In Illinoise I have been advised to be prepared to loose half and not get custody unless I get aggressive, which I hate to do.

2

In my case we went through mediation -much cheaper and quicker, and then had lawyers for settling the financial stuff. A skilled mediator can outline the realities you face -laws, child's rights, etc. May blow a hole or two in your ego, but better than holes in both your ego and wallet.

RonWilliam53 Level 6 July 6, 2018
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2

I have had dealings with someone in the "system" in Illinois, and from what I understand, the courts are fairly stringent there; my advice would be to seek counsel from an attorney again. Since you are not divorced legally yet, you still need to protect yourself, and prove to the court that your main concern is your daughter, and her welfare and her future. It seems that your wife, as you have said, is using your daughter as a pawn, and you need to take that out of the equation, and make it strictly about your daughter's well being.

ThinkKate Level 6 July 6, 2018
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2

How old is your daughter and what does she want? I started as a weekend only dad and the kids eventually (quickly actually) extended that to Thursday night to Monday morning. Both moved in with me full time as soon as they were old enough for after school jobs (I lived in a town with work within walking distancess, she lived in the boonies)Which they wanted.Ifyou daughter is over 12, I'd wager any Court decision would depend on what she wanted, safety etc., being equal. Twothings to remember -neither of you can win by forcing her to do what she doesn't want to andas nice as parks/zoos etc. are you'regoing to end up doing a lot fo at home parenting. Finally, never bad mouth her mother in front of her. Ever.

RonWilliam53 Level 6 July 4, 2018
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2

Single father here. I had joint custody for most of the time my kids were growing up. My ex-wife had primary custody of both kids at first, but my daughter came to live with me shortly after the divorce.

I made a big mistake accepting the custody arrangement as their mother's only interest was in collecting child support, and she played the system really well to make sure that her reported income was far lower than mine.

At any rate, what I'm getting at is that that initial investment in a lawyer would have saved me on $4,000 - 10,000 per year over 12 years. Obviously, the benefit to my kids would have been more important, but the money you spend on a lawyer is more of an investment in your child than an expenditure.

JimG Level 8 July 4, 2018
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2

Write everything down get evidence of what she is doing . Take the rose tinted glasses off . She is not abusing the child but it can be argued she is neglecting her basic needs . Get a lawyer that knows marriage law or find a charity that gives advice . It's gonna get nasty try and be polite and respectful and keep your cool it will not be easy .

Simon1 Level 7 July 4, 2018
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2

Decide w h at is best for the child and fight like he'll for it.

Tompain1 Level 6 July 4, 2018
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2

You sound like the better parent, however not knowing the laws of your state it is difficult to know what the biases are. You should consult a lawyer again. But if the lawyer said it is doable, I'd want to do it.

HippieChick58 Level 9 July 3, 2018
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Better parent is relative. I'm just the parent that doesn't use the child as tool to gain leverage and is more concerned with what the child wants rather than what I want.
So it that makes me the better parent... smile009.gif

@Storybook Fortunately my situation isn't bad, just a pain in the ass. And seeing how much my daughter is missing out on because her mother is not only not involved but also blocks me from being more involved is making me nuts.

1

While "get a lawyer" is usually good advice, there are some follow up points to consider... Which I learned the hard way.

I am not a lawyer, just someone who has been fighting his own legal battles.

1) Don't blindly trust your lawyer, do your own research, get second & third opinions. Don't stick with a lawyer who doesn't seem to be fighting on your behalf.

2) always, always, always get transcripts of every hearing... and learn & obey the law about recording phone calls (Federal and Ohio law is single party consent... smile009.gif )

3) Guardian ad Litems... if they're not meeting the children face to face on a regular basis, don't trust them.

4) Use a court admissible message/calendar service to coordinate with your ex... "Our Family Wizard" has been a (dare I say) "God Send"

To tell you how bad my case has been, after my lawyer deliberately threw the final hearing (didn't show at all for first of two days, didn't file to reschedule, didn't object to hearsay & self-contradictory testimony from my ex and her witness, didn't try to call any of the 12 subpoenaed witnesses for me, etc, etc) I've been ProSe (self represented / no lawyer). Half the witnesses under subpoena to testify on my behalf, were to respond to the false statements and claims of the Guardian ad Litem.

Without using a lawyer, I've successfully argued "Contempt of Visitation", to where my ex was given three days jail time... yes, she's that bad.

And her conduct today at the County Fair, when I tried to see my son's fair projects, was on par with when she got the jail time.

camne Level 7 July 14, 2018
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1

I did win full custody and one of the reasons was that my son's mother converted to Islam. My wonderful lawyer was able to demonstrate what we all know - religion is child abuse and "Presents a culture, educational system and dietary restrictions which is not Status Quo for the child".

That may be your challenge though. Most judges will not change the Status Quo of young children unless you can prove substantial danger or risk of abuse.

Our visitation agreement specifically state neither parent will influence a religion. Of course she chose her religion over him and thankfully lives 600 miles away.

Gyanez Level 5 July 12, 2018
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1

Dude. Get a grip. No court is going to grant full custody based on what you have written here. The kid needs both parents. She is feeling attacked hence the "get a judge" comments. The kid needs downtime. My son comes home from his time with his dad completely knackered. I want to do something fun with him, but see his need to relax and don

Minta79 Level 7 July 5, 2018
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1

Men should ask for custody more often. These days you are actually likely to get it if you ask. The problem is a lot of men don’t ask. (I qualify this statement that this is variable depending on where you live).

I say go for it. Kids need both their parents. The default should be 50/50 not whole custody to mom.

Myah Level 6 July 4, 2018
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1

My girls were adults when their dad and I divorced, so I can’t address the custody issue. I am, however, a cheerleader for the collaborative divorce process. It’s far cheaper than litigation and the focus is on preserving respectful relationships among the divorcing partners. It will only be an option for you if your state allows it and if she is willing to agree not to go to court.

UUNJ Level 8 July 4, 2018
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While I would normally agree, in trying to read between the lines here, it sounds like Mom left Dad in the first place, and is using /daughter to take out some of her residual anger on him, so I wouldn't expect too much true collaboration here. Of course, I could be wrong.)

Edited

@ThinkKate Agreed, which is why that last phrase is there.

1

Why do you even have to ask?

Piece2YourPuzzle Level 7 July 4, 2018
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1

First and fore most I would deffinetly speak with a lawyer, most will give a free consult and a little advice.

I have gone through and am going through some of the same stuff, and honestly having representation has saved a lot of headaches. When she tries to pull some crap you can always revert to the paremting plan, and if she continues she can be found in contempt of court.

My advice when dealing with stuff like this is always cover your butt legally. And no you are never selfish for wanting what is best for your child.

SeanNock Level 5 July 4, 2018
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1

No special knowledge here, but church going and prayers are a big plus in many cases and her lawyers will make her look a saint and make you look a risk.
Hire a lawyer to enforce 50/50 visitation rights, keep the narrative of putting the child and mother first and keep looking reasonable. Document the time and activity you have and do with your child. If she violates the agreement, serve her. Communication by lawyer only. Be patient- give your child quality experience and education and let her mother, mother the way she does. The child will choose you as the main carer, when they are older. Never speak badly of the mother in front of the child. The mother will appear unreasonable and unkind - document everything negative she tells your child about you. This will all help if you then move to the next step of full custody.

Livia Level 6 July 4, 2018
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1

In most states you do not need a lawyer torequest visitation, it is considered a Right and in the best interest of the child. Furthermore, established times/places keeps the peace and is good for all of you.
If you want full custody you need not only a lawyer but to document weirdness...a simple notebook with dates/times, a sentence of detail will be thrilling to whomever you hire!

AnneWimsey Level 8 July 4, 2018
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1

Report to cops she took away child without your consent and press charges
She gets locked and you keep daughter

Antidronefreeman Level 8 July 4, 2018
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Dream one, they Won't even take a report because there is not custody plan in place.

@AnneWimsey that’s what the problem is
Custody plan first, than separation
Other way around is reportable problem to ring the bell 🛎

0

Full custody. Would if truly be for the betterment of your child or would you be using the child in some way to punish your ex? Most fights of this nature have very little to do with the children and it can come back later in life to bite you in the ass.

DenoPenno Level 8 Feb 13, 2019
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