Family Matters
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Custody issues with fiancé's child

So my fiancé has a child from a previous relationship.  They were not married.  The child is 3 1/2 yrs old.  They were together for about 4 months after the baby was born when he found out some things about their relationship and he broke it off.  He still wanted to be in his childs life and has had her in a joint custody type of situation (he has her half the time in a 2wk period).  This was mutually agreed upon i guess by the two of them and there were no legal documents drawn up.  I have been around and in the childs life since she was about 15months.  But since we have recently become engaged there have been some issues come up that I think may stem from jealously..etc..  The mother is catholic and enrolled her in a catholic preschool without talking to my fiancé and recently told him of this.  One of the days she is to attend is on his parenting time that they had mutually agreed on prior.  However, we are not catholic, and are in fact nondenominational, and have already enrolled her in a preschool which she already attends during the time the child is present in our home.  When he told her she was already enrolled in one during his parenting time she stated "well if you don't want her then I want her more".  Long story she was raised very Catholic (which is not a problem) and went to catholic school, but this is not something he necessary supports or wants for his child and she is aware of this.  She is a very passive aggressive person with him because she knows that he is a very giving man.  He has done things above and beyond for her even though they aren't in a relationship.  I feel like she is possibly jealous that he is now engaged to another woman and is trying to get full custody.  They have had a joint arrangement the whole childs life and it would kill him to have his child only every other weekend.  Is it likely that a judge would change this if they got a legal document drawn up and couldn't agree to joint?  He has no psychological/drug/abuse problems whatsoever.  I told him he needs meet with a mediator pronto to get something legal worked up so these things aren't an issue.  It kills me that a mother would want to remove the childs father out of her life out of jealously.  Thoughts?

Re: Custody issues with fiancé's child

  • LizRN2007 said:

     I feel like she is possibly jealous that he is now engaged to another woman and is trying to get full custody.  They have had a joint arrangement the whole childs life and it would kill him to have his child only every other weekend.  Is it likely that a judge would change this if they got a legal document drawn up and couldn't agree to joint?  He has no psychological/drug/abuse problems whatsoever.  I told him he needs meet with a mediator pronto to get something legal worked up so these things aren't an issue.  It kills me that a mother would want to remove the childs father out of her life out of jealously.  Thoughts?



    Hi Liz,

    First of all, I can't emphasize the importance of having a signed agreement or court order enough. FI's daughter is only preschool aged now and you are already having issues maintaining the prior agreement. I highly recommend your FI and his ex to make a detailed agreement now before their daughter gets any older and new issues come up (ie. primary school enrollment, your marriage and role as a stepmom, possible moves, etc.) Unfortunately it's very difficult to hold someone to their word without a formal, legal document these days, especially when emotions are involved. For you and your FI's own protection and peace of mind, I think a legal, binding agreement is absolutely the way to go. Unless there are other issues aside from what you mentioned above then I don't see why any judge would deny your FI joint custody. Typically this is only done in cases of safety issues for the child (like the ones you mentioned above plus criminal record/jail time), major financial issues, one parent forfeiting his/her rights, or the other parent would have to have a very compelling reason in order to make this happen.

    Also, I wouldn't necessarily jump to the conclusion that his ex is doing this out of jealousy, maybe she's just very passionate about having their daughter in catholic school or it is more out of concern that once her daughter has a stepmother then she will "lose" her daughter in some ways. For the time being, it's probably to approach the situation with an open mind and cordially. This will make things much easier throughout the legal process if agreements are mutually agreed upon, as well as provide a more positive situation for the child if everyone is happy with their end of the agreement.

    Best of luck to you and your FI with everything!! I'm sure he appreciates having your support through all of this. :-)

     image

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    short+sassypuppylove2014
  • Thanks for the great input!  I definitely agree with what you said.  However, while it may be important to her to have her go to Catholic school, that is not something we would agree with or find necessary and certainly don't want to/cannot support financially.  Is this something that he would be required to pay for if the mother made the decision without his input/agreeance?
  • I don't even have any children and it infuriates me also when parents will choose their own agenda and/or vindictiveness against their ex over their own child.

    Children deserve to have access to the widest circle of people who love and cherish them, especially when talking about parents, step-parents, and grandparents.

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

    From what you have written, I'm not even saying the child's mother quite sounds as bad as all of that...yet.  But I agree that the time has come to set definite and legal parameters for custody.  Casual agreements work well...until they don't.  And now they don't.

    In a perfect world, your FI shouldn't be held responsible for a "luxury" the girl's mother chose.  And I would rank sending your child to a private school as a luxury.  But there is no telling what a court will say.  Rulings, in general, aren't always logical or right.  Good luck!


  • So, your FI enrolled his daughter in preschool without discussing it with her mother, and that's fine. His ex did the same thing and it must be out of jealousy? Mmm...ok....

    There needs to be a legal custody agreement. Period.

    A judge is most likely to grant 50/50 custody so I wouldn't worry about that.

    Regarding religion- The mother has every right to raise her in her religion when she has her just as your FI does when she is with him.

    It sounds like they get along for the most part and you're being a bit dramatic. When did she try to "remove the child from her fathers life out of jealousy"? 
  • So, your FI enrolled his daughter in preschool without discussing it with her mother, and that's fine. His ex did the same thing and it must be out of jealousy? Mmm...ok....


    I don't have children myself, but this seems weird? If the parents aren't married does the "primary" parent have the choice in schooling? I guess I'm confused how each parent could register the child for school without the other one knowing?

    There needs to be a legal custody agreement. Period.

    ^^ This! I agree 200% I think the mediator is also a good idea to avoid future issues like paying for private school when he wasn't part of that decision.


    Regarding religion- The mother has every right to raise her in her religion when she has her just as your FI does when she is with him.

    Unfortunately/fortunately this is true. Just as much as you don't want the child to be raised with a specific religion, she has a right to raise her child with a particular religion. I was raised Catholic and decided not to stick with it when I became an adult. Different schools of thought on this, but a lot of parents (including mine) believe a child should be raised with faith and morals so that they grow up to be "good" people. This child can make a decision at an older age to keep practicing Catholicism, or have no faith or whatever faith is appropriate. I'm not saying you and your FI aren't raising her without morals, but faith is very important to some people. Also, the faith discussion *should* be on the table prior to having a child. Not every couple comes together with the same beliefs so it has to be figured out early. Obviously it's too late now.



    As with all couples, these two have to work on their communication. They don't have to be best friends, BUT they have to learn to get along when it comes to co-parenting which I know isn't easy. Decisions like schooling should be discussed prior to enrollment. Hopefully mediation will help and a custody agreement will help settle some of your other issues. Good luck.
    puppylove2014
  • From what I'm gathering from her other post, daughter is in daycare at the hospital she (OP) works at. They happen to offer preschool part of the day. The mother enrolled her in a different preschool on her own which is held one day that the father (OP's FI) has her.

    It doesn't sound like this has anything to do with jealousy (on the mothers part) or anything else other than wanting her child to attend preschool. What is the big deal letting her go to preschool ONE day? As far as the religious aspect...It seems FI knew who he was having a child with and knew how she would want to raise any possible children. If he so vehemently disagreed, he should not have had a child with her. Since he did, he will have to accept it and compromises will have to be made. 

    To me, this is not a hill to die on. It's also not really something OP should be involved in. This is between the two parents. It's fine to have an opinion and discuss it with FI, but in the end, the child has two parents who need to hammer these things out. 

    Its going to be a very long time the parents need to be in one another's lives making compromises and supporting whatever is best for the child. OP needs to take a big step back and not worry about the childs religion or who will ultimately pay for her schooling. That will all be worked out in family court. No drama needed.
    dutchgirl76short+sassy
  • I honestly don't have a problem with her being exposed to ANY religion.  The problem lies in the fact that her mother is enrolling and scheduling her for things during my FI time with his daughter without asking him first.  Yes, she does go to a preschool program on our days with her and no we did not ask her mother, but it is part of a daycare program and we don't ever schedule it for time she should be with her mother.  My FI got this girl pregnant after being with her about a month, so no he did not really KNOW her.  He stuck around a long time trying to make it work but obviously it didn't.  There are other issues that I didn't delve into regarding the jealousy part.  I am not directly involved in the issue, but I do support my FI and the child is also a large part of my life and I want the best for her, which is for her to grow up with a father in her life. 
  • You just don't get it, your FI had no more right to enrol her in preschool on his time without discussing it with mom, than she had to enrol her in the catholic preschool. That's what shared custody is about. The parents discuss it and hopefully come to an agreement, if not, well that's what written agreements are for.
    pinkitty
  • I think the OP and her FI are upset that the mother is scheduling preschool during times that are the FI's.  It is not about the whole religion but more of the time aspect.  As a child of divorce it can be hard to deal with scheduling sometimes.  (My parents divorced when I was 3 so it is really the only life I know)  I am sure you guys have no problem with the daughter attending the preschool when she is with her mother.  

    I would pay for the preschool you guys have already enrolled her in and if the mother is adamant about her going to this one then she must pay for it herself.  Another question I have is the preschool similar to the times that she goes to the one you have her in enrolled in and would it be possible for you to drop her off and pick her up?  That way you are not loosing time.
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