Family Matters
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Served with custody papers

So my fiance (we have been together 2 1/2yrs) got served with papers from his ex girlfriend for full custody and support of their almost 4yr old daughter. They were never married and only together about 3 mos after the child was born. They however came up with a mutual verbal agreement regarding the child. They have been doing a 50/50 arrangement since they split up. My fiance has never been late or not picked up his child and has never had any criminal or drug charges or anything that would make him unfit. He has worked full time and provided his daughter with what she needs during his time and paid for childcare while he was working. I have been in the childs life since she was about 15 months old and she has also developed a sibling like relationship with my children. This all started I believe when we got engaged. She had always wanted to get back with him and i think this was the reality that wasnt going to happen. He has always treated her with respect and co parented very well and he was crushed that she is basically trying to take his child away for selfish reasons. She lied on the documents saying that the child has continuously resided with her. He is devastated, and i am very frustrated. We put down a retainer to fight this but I guess I am just looking for some advice or if anyone knows what the likelihood is that they will be able to remain 50/50 like they have been doing..

Re: Served with custody papers

  • Many states have a 50/50 custody precedent set for child custody. Meaning that, unless a parent can prove neglect or abuse of a child, the courts tend to side with a 50/50 custody arrangement.

    HOWEVER, this is the case when the parents of the child were married and got divorced. As your fiancée, was never married to this woman, the court MAY view this differently.

    You need to consult a good family law attorney and find out what kind of parenting/custody rights a non-wed father has in this situation.

  • While I don't personally have experience with this, it is my understanding that gone are the days when women were automatically given full custody.

    Your FI should have the same equal rights to custody that the mother has.  I also recommend he hire a family law attorney.

    Quite frankly, at least in this regard, she is being a horrible mother and destructive influence to her daughter by wanting to almost cut out the little girl's father from her life.  Children deserve and will thrive on having as many loving and supportive people in their lives as possible.

    "Don't hate each other more than you love your children." -- Judge Judy

  • I don't know what state you're in (which matters A LOT), but in my experience the courts like to maintain the status quo.  So if your FI can show that he had his daughter 50% of the time, unless mom's got a damned good reason, the courts will go with what's been done.  Print up a calendar for the past few years and see how much you both can remember that she's been with you with as much specificity as possible, and then provide that calendar to your FI's attorney.  That can help.
    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Mae West
  • I would start pulling records of payments he's made for child care, child support and anything else that he's paid for. Also start journaling all the times he has her, from the time he picks her up and what time he drops her back off.

    I would also recommend to wait on setting a wedding date (if you haven't) until this is settled and an official updated visitation schedule is done. Then make sure you schedule your wedding on a weekend that you would automatically have her. Then let the daughter here any details of the wedding, especially the date. If the ex is willing to pull this stuff just because you got engaged, I wouldn't put it past her to keep his daughter from him on your wedding day.

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