Thursday, February 4, 2010

The truth of child custody

I have "pregnant squat".

Basically, I have to sit with my legs fairly far apart in order to make room for my belly.

When I catch myself sitting like this, especially in skirts, I quickly pull my legs together only to let them fall apart again when my legs get tired of holding up a 30 lb sac of 'baby'.

The things you never thought of.

So, I talked with one of me and D's old friend today, who happens to be a family lawyer. It went really well and was super informative. He corrected a lot of the things I had heard.

I will now share my information so that no one else ends up also mistaken with custody arrangements terminology.

First things first, I had cordial talk with D over custody and child support. He was very adamant about joint custody. I said I needed convincing before I was willing to give him any rights. I don't need to have him walk out of our lives again 4 years down the road.

Everyone says that I shouldn't give him joint custody. I painted a horrendous picture in my mind involving joint custody and was prepared to fight against it.

So, I did some research. Turns out joint custody means nothing more than shared decision-making. Joint custody does not mean that we have to split time with the baby 50/50. I could easily have the baby live with me fulltime and D can visit anytime he wants. Joint custody only says that all decisions concerning the baby must be made by both parents. So, report cards, medical decisions, parent/teacher interviews must involve both parents. To me, that sounds completely reasonable.

I asked my friend about joint custody and child support. Does joint custody mean he doesn't have to pay anything?

Answer: No.

If in the case of shared custody, which means that time with the baby is split 50/50, then child custody might be removed because both parents are equally paying for the needs of the baby. Depending on the joint custody arrangements, D or I could end up paying child support depending on who was taking care of the baby more. If it happens that D has no job, takes care of the baby every other week, I would have to pay child support so that he could still adequately take care of the baby.

It makes sense.

I asked my friend about switching from sole custody to joint custody once D proved himself responsible enough to care for the baby.

His answer completely changed my opinion on sole custody. The moment the baby is born, joint custody comes into effect by default. To gain sole custody requires court orders. Unless D is violent, has a drinking or drug problem, or any of the other extremes which would endanger the child, sole custody is hard to fight for. The courts don't give a crap about the mother or the father. They only care about what is in the best interests of the baby. If the mother wants sole custody just because she resents the father for being an asshole, the court won't consider that a good enough position. And they are completely right.

This is how my friend put it, "Once someone is taken to court... they're usually not happy about it. It usually builds a lot of resentment in both parties. Who knows how long the resent is going to stay. You are going to spend a minimum of 18 years dealing with child support payments and visitations. Unless you think that giving rights to the other party is a life and death situation, then what not try to do everything possible to make things work because resorting to the courts?"

D may be an asshole, but he would never do anything malicious to hurt the baby. He would never go out of his way to destroy the baby's life just because he has legal right to. I know that at the end of the day, D wants to be just a good a parent as anyone else. He may make millions of mistakes and is often really selfish, he would never do something to the point of hurting the baby. He's not THAT horrible.

At the end of the day, the baby's best interests are most important. I think this is something a lot of people forget... or they become blind to it from all the hate and anger. I am determined to keep a clear mind. If this baby and D end up falling in love with each other, I'm not going to take that away just because I resent some of the decisions he made in the past.

If you expect someone to be horrible, they will mostly likely become just that.

If I constantly expect that D is going to be a walk away... he just might get tired of trying to fruitlessly prove himself and give up. I gave up on him a long time ago, what's to say he wouldn't do the same.

My hope is that both D and I are able to become really self-sufficient and money no longer becomes a worry. Once I can support the baby without any worries, I really don't want to have to be troubled about getting child support payments.

Figuring out this whole child custody thing definitely opened my eyes to the dangers of greed and irrationalism.

I think that I often demanded too much of D. I sometimes let myself fall back into the habit where I think he should support me just like back in the days. But those days have changed and we can only move forward... put the past behind and hope for a better future.

1 comment:

  1. I just learned some brand new vocabulary. Thanks Theresa!