what are my options(visitation)?

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Latest post Sat, Oct 7 2006 1:59 AM by Mary3766. 22 replies.
  • Mon, Oct 2 2006 11:37 PM

    Question [=?] what are my options(visitation)?

    State:Ohio

    I am a single mom. My BF left when I was five months pregnant and we have had limited communcation since then. He usually comes by to see the baby once a month and usually stays about 1-1&1/2 hours. We haven't had a court order as of yet but I have told him that he can come see her whenever he wants. He has told everyone else otherwise, trying to make me the bad guy. But I have told him time and time again that he can see her whenever he wants. He usually tells me he is just too busy,with his girlfriend, his job etc.I honestly just never thought he had much interest in her. She doesn't know or recognize who he is. I have written all visit dates and times down just to keep track in case I might ever need them,which I really know nothing about law and don't know if it would matter anyway.
    She is now 17 months old and I received court papers that he is filing a complaint against me for visitation. He just says he doesnt want to come to my houseto see her. I am just wondering what my options are. I dont really feel comfortable having her go alone with him when she doesnt even know him. I feel that it would be detrimental for both their sakes as she is extremely attached to me(I don't go anywhere without her except work and only keave her with my mom or sister)Would the court allow me to go with her on visitation so she is more comfortable? I have to write my statement back to the court and have no idea where to start.
    Any input would be greatly apopreciated. Thanks so much
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 7:56 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Hi,
    I can give you some idea on what the court sees as important, and maybe that will help.

    The court recognizes the rights of both parents as being equal. In other words, when you had the child, you both became entitled to know her and have a relationship with her, without the sanction or approval of the other parent. You also both have a right to have a relationship without the other parent's involvement. In other words, because he is the bio dad, you cannot dictate how he spends his time with the child when he has her, and he cannot tell you.

    Typically, it would not be unsual at 17 months to go to the other parent's home for visitation. He is allowed, during this time, to introduce her to his parents, his friends, even his girlfriend, and typically you cannot say he cannot do these things. It is important that you always appear to support their relationship.

    The court is very much in favor of a non-custodial parent being interested in a child, but it would be his job to file for the visitation. Since you are concerned about them not knowing one another, it might be a good idea if you sat down and figured out a gradually increasing visitation schedule, as your response. Otherwise, the court may give him the standard visitation. For example, maybe until she is 2 he could take her for a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday, during the day. When she is 2 he can take her for one day and one overnight. At 2 1/2 he could take her for a weekend, and by 3 be up to the "standard visitation," which is every other weekend and one or two evenings a week. It's just an idea, and you could come up with something different. The important thing is that you show the court that you are interested in your daughter knowing her father, and that you will do your part and have her ready for the visitation.

    You might also consider what to do for the holidays. Christmas is only two months away, so you might suggest he has her for part of the day, maybe after her nap in the afternoon until after dinner or something like that. This may be hard for you, I know, but if you consider he has the same rights you do it might help to plan holidays. If his family does their Christmas event on Christmas eve, maybe that would work better. Thanksgiving, same thing, and try to think of upcoming years. Do you want to alternate, or keep it the same every year?

    By the way, you are legally obligated to have the child ready for visits, but he is not legally obligated to exercise them. You are not obligated to allow him more time than the Order allows, and either of you can go back in future to modify the Order. You should also realize that your response to his request for visitation is only your suggestion, and depending on his suggestions, the court may come up with something different than either of you. I didn't want you to think that since you were spending time working this out, that was necessarily the way it was going to go.

    Let us know if you need something else.

    Sue :)

  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 8:49 AM In reply to

    Question [=?] re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Thanks for the info. I guess all of that is exactly what I didnt want to hear. But I am glad that now I have a better idea of what to expect. Does it make a difference if I have an attorney? I can't get a free one from legal aide, they said they no longer do visitation cases. But I would be willing to get an attorney if I thought it would help. I am jsut concerned about my daughter because she is scared of him. Whenever he comes over she usually cries for a little. I am sure she is probably just at that age where she has stranger anxiety, I just don't want this to be hard on her since its not her fault that she doesn't know him. I have always encouraged him to see her, he just always makes up some kind of excuse as to why he can't see her. He and his family also have had history of drug use(although his was when he was a minor so I dont know if that matters) and depression, which worries me as well. I know none of that has to do with the law, but that is how I feel. He doesn't have an attorney, but do you think it would be in my daughter's best interest to get one?
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 10:43 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Hi again,

    Sometimes, when parents can't agree on things, the court will appoint a GAL (guardian ad litem), which is an attorney who represents the best interest of the child, not the parents. Sometimes, parents also ask for a GAL because they can't make any headway on the decisions that need to be made.

    As far as you getting an attorney, that is definitely a choice you can make to be sure your rights are protected. As I mentioned before, though, there is a foregone conclusion that dad is entitled to the same rights you are with his child. A word of caution here is that, even though you say you have always encouraged their relationship, you definitely don't want to appear to the court as if you are trying to control or interfer with his rights as a parent - and trying to not give him even standard visitation is interferring. That's why I suggested you work on a gradual schedule. Also, bringing up old, old juvenile drug-related charges as a way of limiting his visits definitely falls within that ballpark, too - like you are reaching for any excuse at all to continue to control his interactions with his child, and before you know it, the court has given him much more than you ever wanted him to have.

    It's a process, I know, but try to keep in mind that the courts LOVE IT when an absent parent shows an interest in a child, enough of an interest that he is willing to go to court, pay the fees, etc. to get to see his child. There are very few things that actually derail that, and your assumptions about his parenting skills, his drug use, his family's drug use, how clean his house is, etc. only has the potential of hurting you, if you act on them.

    This is often a hard lesson for people who have had a partner who is not a "stellar" parent. Your daughter is going to meet a lot of people in her life, and some of them are not going to be the best people - you won't always have control over this. You cannot hide her or keep her from getting hurt - it's just part of life. And the courts think that a relationship with a dad is good for a little girl.

    Hope this helps.

    Sue :)
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 11:07 AM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Sure you can hire an attorney BUT the fact is, he is the father and he does have a right to have unsupervised visits with the child unless you can prove he is harmful or abusive to the child. It douesn't sound like he is but he eventually is going to get more visitation with the child. Of course the child is strongly attatched to you but children that age are very clingy to everyone. My daughter just turned 2 and she often cries when I leave her, or when daddy leaves her, or when she is leaving grandma and grandpa's. It doesn't mean she doesnt want to see the father and I know its heartbreaking, but you cannot continue to limit visitation to just your terms.

    I would see what I could work out with him and then gradually move to overnights, perhaps one overnight a week. Lots of children that age have overnights with the other parent with no problem, but your daughter just needs to get used to it. I am not sure how far away you live but him having to drive to your house for a few hours of visits is not the greatest deal. See if he is willing to do a few hours doing the week and maybe 1 overnight a week and go from there. Standard visits usually are EOW and then maybe a few hours 1 night a week but whatever you 2 can workout without an expensive court battle is probably better.

    Good luck
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 12:43 PM In reply to

    re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Hi, thanks again to both who replied. I am not looking for an excuse to get his vistations limited. I am just stating reasons that I worry about this. And he was a juvenile just a couple years ago(he's only 20) and I know that he still does drugs, there just havent been any charges on him since then.
    As for the visits, they have been limited only by his choice. I have offered to bring her to his house(when he lived with his mom) and he said no he didnt want her to come over. He lives about 15 minutes away (now with his girlfriend's parents) and they have always been at my house because the subject has never come up. He has never once told me he would rather them be somewhere else. I just assumed he did not have an interest in her as he was not even at an Easter egg hunt held by his mom and never even once called to wish her a happy easter, merry christmas, etc. so why would I suggest that they be outside of the comfort of her home? I am not trying to find excuses as to why he cant/shouldnt see her, just trying to explain why I never saw it a problem.
    I know that it may seem like I am trying to control it and maybe I am but I have raised completely by myself to this point and am really afraid of her getting hurt, either emotionally or in any way. I have never left for longer than a 6-hour period(and only with my mom or sister who we live with)and usually after that point she starts crying for me. I am still nursing her several times a day so I am also concerned about that as she will not take a bottle.
    I appreciate all of your input, at least now I will have an idea of what to expect. I was totally taken off guard by this as he has never discussed his desire to visit with her more. Just last Friday he didnt show up when he said he would. Thanks again
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 12:46 PM In reply to

    Sad [:(] But here's the problem...

    "And he was a juvenile just a couple years ago(he's only 20) and I know that he still does drugs, there just havent been any charges on him since then."

    You knew all of this when the two of you made this child. And you STILL chose him as an acceptable potential father. It's a little late to take issue with his character, ya know?
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 1:31 PM In reply to

    • LynnM
      Lawyer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Apr 3 2000
    • CA
    • Posts 28,248

    You need to learn to let go

    He is her father. He has every right to have a relationship with her and to spend time with her without you around.

    There is nothing in your post to indicate that he is not capapble of carig for her. You need to let him do that.
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 2:04 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: You need to learn to let go

    Its also time to get the baby on a bottle. Breastfeeding is not an option when dad has the baby. Now that you know he is seeking unsupervised visits he will have to give the baby a bottle. Probably a good time to ween the child here soon or st least train her to use a bottle but I know its hard to do that if you are still nursing. Somebody else should work on giving her the bottle.

    His record or whatever, unless he is continually in trouble, irresponsible and incapable of watching the child, every little infraction of the law might not matter. Hopefully he will clean up his act now that a baby is involved.
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 2:47 PM In reply to

    The Best Interest of the Child

    One of the posters made a statement that is important. She said something akin to "the courts think it is good for a child to have a relationship with the father". I'm here to tell you that it IS good for a child, ESPECIALLY a daughter to know her father. Daughters get a huge amount of their self esteem from positive male role models. Daughters who have an active father in their lives have lower rates of drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, multiple marriages, etc. and generally have better relationships with other men in their lives.

    My DH and his daughter do all sorts of things together that her mom just couldn't do, like working on the car together, learning to play the guitar, recording her songs on a CD, etc. The way her face lights up when he tells her she has done something well, can light up the whole room.

    I can tell you as a child who grew up without a father, that children long for a father in their lives. The idea that you don't miss what you never had just doesn't apply to not having a dad. When she sees other kids interact with their fathers, she will feel that sense of loss or being left out.

    Your daughter will benefit greatly from having him in her life and she will lose out for the rest of her life if she doesn't. You need to not just "appear" to encourage this relationship, you need to support it, push it, encourage it, facilitate it, celebrate it anyway that you possibly can. I don't care how you feel about this man now, your daughter will love him for the rest of her life and that's a good thing for her.

    So he's not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So he's inexperienced as a parent. The only way he's going to learn is to let him spend time with her on his own. That's how she will bond with him and he with her. You can respond with a a visitation schedule that is graduated, giving him a little more time over a period of months as he gets to know her. She will get over her stranger anxiety and you can have some "me" time to recharge your batteries and do some things for yourself.
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 4:33 PM In reply to

    re: The Best Interest of the Child

    To be quite honest, I do not feel that I need to defend myself but none of you know my situation and I don't expect you to. But firstly, no actually he is not capable of taking care of her. He cannot even take care of himself at this point. Unless you have gone through each specific situation I don't think you can understand or appreciate what I think or feel.
    I am not trying to keep her from him. I have encouraged him to be part of her life and he has refused. He was not part of the pregnancy, the birth or her life up until this point. He made very little effort to see her even when I pushed for it, so I stopped. He is always telling people I don't let him see her which is completely untrue. He is a compulsive liar and actually when we made this baby, I did not know about his drug problems because he had been lying to me about it. Yes, that is my fault but he was someone I thought I could trust and later found out I could not.
    As for a father being good for her, I dont technically agree. She has lots of positive male role models(my brothers and cousins) who love her very much and want to spend time with her.

    I did not want to get on here to blast him so I tried not to post things that might not affect a legal decision. I simply wanted to see what to expect as an outcome. I'm sorry if I was not clear about my question. I just think its very unfair to a toddler to force her to have a relationship with somone who has not shown any interest in her for the 17 months she has been alive and the nine months before that simply because she has his DNA. So flame me for it. I know my baby and I know her father better than can be explained on a computer and I just dont think at this time her best interest is to be sent away with a stranger, which is exactly what he is to her.
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 4:40 PM In reply to

    re: The Best Interest of the Child

    Well, at the end of the day, he is still her father and he WILL get unsupervised visitation - likely sooner than later.
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 5:23 PM In reply to

    Feedback [*=*] re: The Best Interest of the Child

    My son was only 8 month old when my ex and I went to court. He received visitation either at my home or within the city limits only and only for a few hours a day 1/3 Sat and 1/3 Sun. The first few visits that he only stayed for were about 2 hours each for 2 months then we got into an argument and he took him with him for his visitation. I hated it because he was so young, did scream, didn't know him, and wouldn't let go of me. To this day he still doesn't want to go but once he is out of sight of me he calms down. No, he doesn't call him daddy. He tries to get him to but at no avail. He only comes once a month vs two that are in the papers and NO over night. He goes out of town every time he gets him which is contempt. I have video and pictures and we have already been back once and headed that way again, when I get money because he is going out of town again.The courts are not going to see that the child crying a reason to have in home visits.

    I nursed until he was 18 months and you have to put them on a bottle. My son didn't like taking it either but they learn if they are hungry enough they will take it. He wasn't just like that when his father took him he was like that at the daycare too.

    I'm sorry, I might have missed something. Has visitation gone through the courts yet? If it hasn't be aware that if he wants to take the child and paternity "has" been established he can keep her until you get a visitation order. He as the father has every right you do at this point. I always suggest to people that ask if they need an attorney to get one and get everything in writing through the court. You will have it later if anything comes up.

  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 5:34 PM In reply to

    • Violet1
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on Mon, Feb 13 2006
    • Posts 54

    Ok [+0+] re: what are my options(visitation)?

    Hi!

    As you have seen from all the different responses and personal opinions posted here, your best bet and I highly recommend it, is for you to hire an attorney who will know exactly what to do according to the laws of your state. Good luck!
  • Tue, Oct 3 2006 5:39 PM In reply to

    By a year & a half....

    I wouldn't even bother with a bottle - I'd switch to a sippy cup.
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