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Custody: Preparing a Declaration?

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I am in the midst of filing my paperwork for the custody battle that lays ahead of me. I have finished mostly everything else, but I have yet to write my "Declaration."


I know that in court it does no good to play the he-did-this-she-did-that game and I want to avoid that altogether.


But does anyone have any tips? I'm not sure what to put in here at all. My ex's was full of BS and pretty much made no sense whatsoever. I want mine to be better.


If anybody has any links or personal experience, please share! I need help here!

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If it were up to me, I'd like to make him disappear completely.


BUT, it's not. So I have to keep the best interests of Daniel in mind, and he does deserve a relationship with his father and there really isn't a whole lot of proof that R doesn't deserve that either. (We all know the truth, but I have to be able to prove it, ya know? Sucks.)


R does have a daughter but he told me time and time again that he was gone her first entire year of life, so that means no newborn experience. I, on the other hand, have been the sole caregiver AND financial provider since all this started, plus I'm breastfeeding.


So I'm trying to remain kinda understanding and level-headed when it comes to laws and all that. So at the moment I'm asking R only be able to see the baby for a few hours a week, and in my presense preferrably. If that can't happen, I'd like visits to be at his mother's house which is like 5 minutes from me and in the presense of someone else until a relationship is established and Daniel gets a little older. Plus I'm breastfeeding and I've worked so hard to continue, I don't want him to mess it up for me. I also want him to have visitation the same time he has his daughter so they can form a brother-sister bond which I feel is very important.


Then, as the relationship is established and R proves he's reliable and all that, we can increase visits, eventually leading to overnights when he's over a year old.


I'm not trying to push R out of his life because honestly that just doesn't look good for me and it could prevent me from getting the maximum amount of custody I can get.


So legal custody will be split (common in my state), meaning all decisions will have to be made by both parents, not just me. Fortunately R doesn't really have a care in the world when it comes to making decisions for his daughter.


There's a whole lot more to it. This is a really big mess.


I finished writing my declaration and it was two pages long...R's was only a paragraph. I feel weird writing every bad thing I know about him down...I feel like a trader kinda, although when it comes down to it, if he had dirt on me, he'd use it in a second.

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When you write, just keep in mind what is in the best interest of your child. That should help with the guilty feelings. Make sure that your declaration is written from that viewpoint because that is what the court wants to see.


From what you are describing it sounds very fair. Short visits without overnights are pretty typical for a newborn and then increasing time as the child gets older and can handle more of a split situation I think is very reasonable.


You've gotta do what you've gotta do. Don't feel bad about protecting your child.

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The custody battle between myself and my ex just ended last week so I know how stressful it can be! He was trying to get primary residence.


I would make use of your son's medical records. They will show that you have been the only parent responsible for his medical care. When he gets older you can make use of school records as well.


When my son was an infant he had him for 6 hours one day a week. I was breastfeeding as well. They will probably tell you to pump, that is what I was told.


Unless there is a good reason for it (and I don't know the history of your case) he won't have supervised visitation.


Once my son was a year old he had him every other weekend.


When he started preschool he had him every other weekend and one afternoon a week. In my state that is pretty standard though it is becoming more and more common for the non custodial parent to have three weekends a month with one weekday afternoon per week.


Because my ex has since married and my son now has a step sister and a half sister we share summer vacation. We each have him every other week while school is out. This is NOT standard and is something I agreed to because I believe it is important for my son to form a meaningful bond with his sisters.


I would make sure to discuss holiday visitation in your declaration. I find alternating holiday's a lot easier than sharing them but that may not be the case for you. Also, our agreement has a stipulation that I will always have him on Mother's Day and he will always have him on Father's Day regardless of weekend visitation schedual.


I also requested to have a "no smoking in the presense of the child" and "no disparageing remarks about the other parent are to be made in the presense of the child".


I was wondering if you had a lawyer?

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I'm sorry. I know I can look it up.


But will someone please tell me what a declaration is? Is this something that is necessary when parties don't agree on arrangements?


What did he request, BTR? Or what was in his declaration?


Please be sure not only to note the negative about him, also note why you are the "better" or "more capable" parent. Like that you have permanent residence and for how long you have. (He hasn't had perm residence for months, has he?)

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The declaration is something used if both parties cannot come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation. It's usually called Declaration in Support of Custody Action or (in some states) Declaration in Support of Parenting Plan.


The declaration is supposed to include information about the parenting function each parent has been performing in the past x months (varies by location). You can also put reasons for restricting the other parents contact with the child into your declaration. It is important to show in your declaration how you are involved with the many aspects of rasing the child. The court will want to disrupt the child's routine as little as possible so they tend to err in favor of not upsetting the apple cart without a very good reason.

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Yes I do have a lawyer. I just got back from there and finished filing all my paperwork. I have mediation in less than a week.


I'm terrified. My declaration was completely truthful and stated everything that applied to why I feel the way I do, etc., but I feel awful about it.


My ex really is unreasonable and pretty darn scary, and it showed that. I wrote about his drug problems and his violent temper. It applies to how he parents, but I know he's just going to blow up. I'm guessing once he's served, he's going to come here, call constantly, or email me really nasty stuff. I know if he comes by or whatever I can call the cops, but I'm pretty scared. Every time I hear a car door close I go look out the window because I'm sure he's going to come over here and just let me have it. Argggggg this is nerveracking.


He did treat me awful and I disagree with his parenting, but he kinda got into my brain. After everything terrible would happen between us, he would tell me how I shouldn't tell anyone about what goes on between us, etc. I know there is a certain line between what should be kept between two people in a relationship or it will destroy trust, but he'd do some pretty nasty stuff. And I felt I could only come and talk to an anonomous forum about it. Now everything is coming out and I still feel like I'm breaking his trust. Like I shouldn't tell anyone about his addiction to speed and pot or how he treated me and about his terrible temper. But honestly, it does scare me about him driving my kid around. That's why I had to include it. It's not to hurt him, it's to protect my son. I just have to keep reminding myself that. And if he had any dirt on me, I'm sure he would have used it. But I'm not a crazy drug addict. And he has been threatening a vicious custody battle since I got pregnant pretty much. So why should I spare his "feelings" (if he has any) for the safety of my son..??? Ah this is so difficult and painful. I feel like I've been brainwashed during our relationship and I KNOW it's not right. I know the way I'm thinking is not normal and I have to rise above it and think like a normal person. I feel crazy and brainwashed. Like after everything he does, I still have to "protect" him. He's a grown man. I feel guilty when I tell anyone about what went on or things he's said and done.


About holidays, he put in his paperwork that he wants the baby for every fathers day AND every mother's day. I know he won't get it, but come on. How low is that??

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Gosh, it really does amaze me what a non-custodial parent can get. Scotcha, you mean that a non-custodial parent can literally get 3 weekends a month and one weekday evenning? If that ever happened, I would just work weekends all the time and try to make the most of my weekdays. Gosh, glad I can do that, at least.

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Well but even with 3 weekends a month and one night a week that's only about 30% time with the non-custodial parent. For a "standard" visitation schedule of 2 weekends a month and one night a week it is only 22% of the time or so. That's not much.


I think courts are realizing it is beneficial for the child to have a good relationship with both parents and not reduce the non custodial parent to just an infrequent visitor.


Now this is a different situation with an unhealthy father but it impacts other non-custodial parents who are very interested in being a big part of their child's lives - but are thwarted by a system where they can basically get shut out of it and they have little recourse.

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I agree completely and actually ran the numbers myself. Still, the quality of weekend time CAN BE so much greater than that of a weekday evenning, so the quality of time spent with the non-custodial parent (3 weekends a month) COULD be pretty wonderful. I suppose if it were up to me, I'd give up more weekday nights and two weekends to match it closer to 50/50 without being disruptive. I want weekends to go on ski-trips, hobbying, etc, but not be stuck with all the grunt work of helping with homework, etc. Not that that's bad, because that is quite possibly where the close bonds are formed.

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Gosh, it really does amaze me what a non-custodial parent can get. Scotcha, you mean that a non-custodial parent can literally get 3 weekends a month and one weekday evenning? If that ever happened, I would just work weekends all the time and try to make the most of my weekdays. Gosh, glad I can do that, at least.


Yes, though it depends on the county. In the one neighboring mine that is the norm.


It's always been hard for me to "give up" my son for his visitation with his father. In a way, I do resent it. But then I remind my self how I would feel only seeing my child every other weekend. And also that my son needs both of his parents.


BornToResist, I was wondering, how is everything going? What happened in mediation?

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I started a new thread about what went on in mediation ->


I like the idea of having weekends, but I also feel it's really important to have weeknights. I don't know which is more important. I know I want to be the one to help with the homework and have the bedtime rituals and all that. I have such fond memories of my dad reading to me before bed or helping me study for tests, or singing along to songs on the way to school and I want that so much.

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Oooh, thanks! I can't believe I misses your new thread.


I believe that both weekends and weeknights are equally important. Weeknights are important because of the family routine and weekends are important for down time.


BornToResist, I've found that as my son gets older it gets easier for me to let him go, so to speak. Part of that came when he started going to pre-school. Part of it came from seeing that he came back to me a-ok. Your son is always going to love you and no one can take that bond that you have with him away.


I've gleaned that his father may not be the best of sorts.. And I have to tell you, neither was my son's father. Over the years though he's matured more and more and really started stepping up to the plate. Having a child really forces people to change and I hope that your son's father will make the positive changes that he needs to make.

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He already has a daughter though. He's been a father for 8 years now and hasn't gotten any more responsible.


I'm sure that everything will be A-OK but seriously, he served me papers when my baby was 3 weeks old. He's not even 2 months yet and I cannot deal with having him away from me yet.

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You are a wonderful mother, BTR, and I have no doubt that R- respects you and your son more because you are holding him to a higher standard and making him jump through these hoops. It is good that he knows that you are NOT like his ex- and that you will be making sure he is not misbehaving and if he does, you will act!!!

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