Post # 1
Hi folks. My brother had a daughter in May and he is no longer with the mother of the child. He’s serving her with papers today for joint custody. Both of them are young, early 20s, and live at home. When they were together they both lived at my mom’s house and immediately after giving birth she moved two hours away to live with her own family.
Initially she promised to never try to keep the baby away from my brother or our family. We’re a good family…not rich, but good people with minimal family issues. Everyone got along with the Girlfriend until the baby was born…Girlfriend suddenly seemed like she didn’t like any of us. As far as we know, nobody did anything to make her not like us. In the last two months or so, she’s been making it clear by her actions that she’s trying to keep the baby away. Her mail still goes to my mom’s house (we have no idea why she hasn’t changed her address) so every couple of weeks she goes to pick it up. She used to bring the baby with her but now she doesn’t. My brother’s birthday was last week, and he asked her to come to his small birthday party (she’s always welcome at my mom’s, we treat her well even though we can tell she doesn’t like us) and she told him she didn’t know if they could make it to the party. They never showed up, so all weekend my brother tried to get in touch with her so he could make the drive to visit his daughter. She has been ignoring him.
He used to be welcome at her family’s house. She lives with her grandfather, father and brother. Now he is only allowed there at certain times and only when they say he can come over. She’s apparently been making my brother out to be a bad guy to them. My brother doesn’t want to be a deadbeat dad but what can he do when she doesn’t let him be a part of his daughter’s life? Like I said, he’s serving her with papers today and trying to get joint custody. He wants his baby 50% of the time.
My question is, with the way she is behaving, what should we expect? Do you bees think she’ll keep his daughter from him until this whole thing is settled in court? How long will this take? She has no job and lives in her grandpa’s living room. My brother has a job and is trying his hardest to step up and be a man. Does anyone have any stories to share??? We’re in California, if that helps at all.
Post # 2
boogiewoogies: I think your brother will get joint custody unless there is a glaring reason not to (which it doesn’t seem like there is). This is a sucky situation and unfortunately there isn’t much he can do legally to make her stop acting like a bitch, but he’s doing the right thing by getting custody so she can’t just move away with their daughter or something.
Post # 3
boogiewoogies: My brother has a job but his psycho gf does not. She left him one day when he wasn’t home and moved three states away. We called the cops but there was nothing they could do because it wasn’t considered kidnapping because there was no legal paperwork.
The only thing he can do is go through the court system. I’m afraid to say he will probably get join and the crazy ex gf will get half as well. My brother filed 6 months ago, and the judged orderd him a 3 week go pick up your kid thing and then next month the judge will decide who will get the kid.
But really this is just one part of a long never ending journey. It won’t end until your brother’s daughter is 18.
Post # 4
boogiewoogies: No real advice except that there are laws that a parent can’t just up and move the kid a certain # of miles away. So you might have that on your side in that she HAS to move closer or make arrangements to bring the baby every weekend or whatever custody he gets. Sorry you’re going through this. It’s gross when people use their kids like that.
Post # 5
My sister just today settled a custody battle that’s been going on for a YEAR. Only in her case it was her deadbeat ex trying to get partial custody (that didn’t happen).
She’s in Indiana, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think the basics would apply no matter what state you’re in.
My first piece of advice is your brother MUST get a good lawyer. Preferably one who specializes in fathers’ rights. My second piece of advice is Document. Everything. EVERYTHING. Every email, text, anything. Written evidence is best, so have him try to communicate that way. He needs a dossier. He’s trying to prove that he’s awesome and she’s less than awesome. Her not having a job or a stable living situation (family is good, living in the living room is not) is going to go a long way toward him making his case.
I expect that things will not change with regard to visitation until the court decides something. The mother has custody by default right now, so she can pretty much do what she wants. He should definitely document every time he TRIES to see her, even if the mom won’t let him. He should ask ALL THE TIME. The more he asks and tries, the more favorable he looks to the court.
Just so you know, the court will likely encourage (or even require) them to use mediation. If they can work things out themselves it’s a much better outcome (and less legal fees). If they do mediation though, get your brother’s attorney to recommend the best one in your area – it can make a huge difference. None of this is going to be cheap, but he has to get his ducks in a row and come out swinging. Let me know if you have any other questions – I have unintentionally become pretty knowledgable about this subject!
Post # 6
VictorianChick: What a nightmare. We have been terrified of her doing exactly the same thing. At first my brother was trying to work the relationship out with the mom so he didn’t want to file for custody and make a mess of things. He still loves her, or at least thought so until she ripped his heart out by not letting him see his daughter on his birthday, his very first birthday as a father.
Our own parents divorced and remarried when we were young, so we have an idea of what’s going to happen. The scary part is knowing how ugly things got between our mom and dad. That was a long time ago and things worked out in the best of ways, but when we were little, oh man, it was bad. I don’t want that for my baby brother! And to think that it could take so long…6 months is a long time if the Girlfriend won’t let him see the baby.
Post # 7
oneofthesethings: Thank you so much. When he filed he was told that they are to take it to mediation first and if she doesn’t want to cooperate then they will have to take it to court. I’m prepared to pay good money for a lawyer for him. One of our biggest problems is that I’m 500 miles away…if only I could be there with him to walk him through everything. I absolutely hate it.
Do you recommend that even after she is served the papers today, that he continue to try to see his daughter? I wish I could give you a better picture of what is happening, but we don’t even know what’s going on ourselves. Lately the Girlfriend has been denying any help that my mom or brother offers, whether it’s financial or just diapers. I fear that it’s part of her plot in making my brother look like a deadbeat.
Post # 8
I’m not an expert, but I think frequently the judge will at least order interim visitation rights for your brother, pending the outcome of the case. Unless she makes some serious accusations about him, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least granted temporary vistation while the case is ongoing. I agree with the PP who said a great lawyer is key!
Post # 9
boogiewoogies: I don’t have any advice, but I did want to say you are a good sister and aunt for helping your brother and the baby! I wish your family luck!
Post # 10
KatieBklyn: True. But if there is no papework filed that he was evil(and I’m sure he was not) Then the judge doesnt look at it. I know my bros crazy pycho ex gf said he abused her and that things were awful and she “feared for her life.” The court asked if there was papework and if he had been arrested, or if there was a restraining order. Or if child services had come. None of theses things had happened so the judge was like um…..???
Judges have seen and heard it all and can usually see through people. Thankfully!
boogiewoogies: I know its hard. Its horrible your bro has to go through this. But stay the course. He’s doing what he should be. The wheels of justice move slowly….
Post # 11
KitKatNYC: Thanks! We have a strong, loving family. My older sister has been helping him file the paperwork and is supposed to be the one to physically serve them to the ex tonight. No one messes with our baby brother!
And thank you everyone for the support and advice. This is so emotionally draining.
Post # 12
I have seen a similar situation where the first hearing came up pretty quickly and there was a a temporary order put in place for the Dad to get visitation. The official parenting plan took time after a mediation and some back and forth. I would tell him yes though to keep contacting her (not excessively) to ask for visitation. It will look better than if she comes to court and says, hey, he hasn’t even asked to see her in six months, why should he get 50/50 custody? Also, the unfortunate thing to be prepared for is as long as the child is safe it is likely Mom will get more custody time, especially since that is the status quo for the whole first year, that Mom had primary custody.
Post # 13
I assume your brother is on the birth certificate, and if he isnt, he needs a DNA test pronto. Has he been giving the mother any sort of financial help? If he has been contributing without a child support order, that money could later be considered a gift and, possibly, the mother could get retroactive support in addition to what he has already paid. I don’t live in California, but I think they are pretty progressive with regards to fathers’ rights (meaning they don’t always assume the child should only be with the mother). The custody case could be strung out for a year or more depending on how willing both parties are to cooperate. Even if your brother does get joint custody, there is a chance he will still have to pay child support. In the state I live, child support is used to “equalize” money support for the child on both sides of the coin (hence why your brother might still have to pay even though he has 50/50 custody).
My advice would be for your brother to file asap.
ETA: I just saw that your brother is serving the mother with papers. That is good. I think his best course of action would be to log all contact he has with the mother.
Post # 14
oneofthesethings: I agree with you documentation is KEY. Also showing that extra effort of trying to be with the daughter cannot be stressed enough.
boogiewoogies: OP I hatte to say this, but baby mama is going to try to play dirty and make up lies in court to get her way. So it’s vital that your brother can prove without a reasonable doubt that he is able , ready and WILLING to take care of the child. Father’s have to work harder in court to get custodym even 50%. Sad to say, but this is one of those few things in life where women have the upper hand, but unfortunately it’s not always for the better. I say this because my father faught for custody and it took years, and even though he could prove my mom was unfit (she was in fact) he had to over proove that he was fit more so then her.
Your bro will have to prove everything he is saying to the court. So make sure that his emotions or “nice guyness” gets in the way, and unfortunately a little cunning would be needed in this (not dishonesty, but cunning)
Post # 15
Thanks everyone, you all are very helpful. My sister served the papers to the mother just a little bit ago.
We thought it was best to have someone other than my brother serve her so it wouldn’t get ugly and it sounds like my sister did a good job. The girl didn’t want to come outside to talk to her, probably because she knew what was happening. My sis told her that our brother was not angry with her. She asked something along the lines of, “So he wants custody?” and my sister just said, “he’s not trying to take her away from you.” Then let her take a look at the papers.
I think, from what I’ve heard so far, that they feel like my brother has no right to have custody of his child. My sister dropped off a box of diapers and also gave her a money order from my brother. The girl said she didn’t know how to cash it and my sister told her to put it in her bank account. Apparently she doesn’t want to deposit money into her account, so her grandfather told her that he would help her figure out how to cash it. I wonder if that means something? Is she trying to avoid depositing it into her account because she’s trying to get welfare? Is she trying to make it look like my brother doesn’t help the baby financially?
We know two families that were able to agree on shared custody during mediation and the fathers were lucky enough to not have to pay child support as long as they had the kid 50% of the time. I really hope he can be that lucky. I worry that she might try to take Cash Aid, which he’ll have to pay back…she’s not interested in working. She had a job for years but quit when she gave birth and now she doesn’t want to go back.
I have a feeling we’re about to see a really ugly side of her.