Divorce effects on a young infant


My daughter was only 2 1/2 when I moved out of my ex’s home and we got an apartment, so she was a little older than your child. She doesn’t remember what happened (she’s almost 4 now) but at first, she did realize that we weren’t in our house and daddy wasn’t around. That was the toughest thing to deal with…her not understanding why daddy wasn’t there and her getting upset, but, fortunately, it only lasted a couple of weeks. When she started getting older, she would ask questions and I would answer them as honestly as I could. I would try to explain to her that both her parents loved her very much and wanted her to be happy, but that mommy and daddy just weren’t happy together anymore. She still sometimes wishes we could all play together but the biggest thing my ex and I try to do is keep our schedule for picking her up and overnights pretty consistent and we try to NEVER say anything derogatory about the other person in front of her…that is the worse thing you could do when your child gets older. As far as staying together for the sake of the child…you are cheating your child and yourself out of a stable, calm household, in my opinion. When my ex and I were still together, we did nothing but fight and children, no matter what age, can feel the tension and know that something’s not right. My daughter would sometimes have the worse fits and tantrums and normally (which I can see now) it would be when my ex and I were fighting or not talking. The children do not need to grow up in a household where they don’t get to see a loving relationship between two people; I mean, everyone has fights now and then, but if you are truly unhappy, you child will know and will grow up knowing and seeing this all the time. Again, this is just my opinion and what I went thru. Things are still tough no matter how hard you try but I am much happier in dealing with everyday life than I have ever been and I know my daughter can see that and will be better off knowing this.


Dear Cocchetti:

Thanks for your response! It is all very helpful. I have a few questions for you specifically but anybody else can answer them if they want. Like I’ve mentioned, any help and advice would be wonderful! What’s the weekly schedule you and your ex have for seeing your daughter? The initial step in separating seems like one of the toughest parts. It’s hard to actually make that first move, how did you find the ability to do it? Also, how did you go about working on your separation agreement? Thank you again for responding. I really appreciate it!


First, leaving my ex was somewhat instigated by him. He can home from a business trip and told me that he thought things were not going well between the two of us and wanted to know how I felt. Well, I had been uphappy for years and it gave both of us chance to talk about things and realize that we weren’t in love with each other. Although, he thought it was a temporary situation, I viewed it as permanent. If he hadn’t come to me, I would have brought up the subject not too far off from when he approached me…the whole situation seemed very surreal and still does to this day sometimes.
For our daughter’s schedule, we made sure we drew up a separation agreement and what it would be BEFORE we moved out…I couldn’t imagine doing it afterwards, since our “friendship” kinda crumbled (by him, not me). My home is the primary home. He gets her every Wednesday night and every other weekend, picking her up from daycare Friday night and dropping her off at daycare on Monday. We also split up the days on who picks her up from daycare. Monday and Friday’s (and of course Wednesday, since he keeps her) he picks her up and I pick her up on Tuesday and Thursday. We try to split the Holidays evenly. We either split the day in half for smaller Holidays or, like for Thanksgiving for example, he had her Thanksgiving Day last year, so I get her Thanksgiving Day this year. Hope this helps.


This is all very helpful, thanks again! So, you have sole custody of your daughter? I am hoping to have joing custody where we can hopefully split the week in half evenly. How did your husband end up with Wed night and every other weekend? Was it a mutual agreement between both of you or did he want more of a joint custody situation? That’s one of the biggest worries I have. I don’t want to only see my son one night a week and every other weekend. I’m wondering how conceivable it is to have joint custody. Thanks again!


We do have joint custody…he keeps our daughter a total of 130 nights a year, which is over the 122 minimum to qualify for joint custody. If he kept her less than 122 overnights, I could claim sole custody and receive more child support. NC also has sole physical custody vs joint physical custody…this has to do with who makes the day to day life decisions for the child. Most parents have the joint physical custody, unless one parent doesn’t want a say or have other issues (mental problems, drug/alcohol abuse, etc.). This is something you would clarify in the separation agreement that you agree on joint physical custody for decisions and joint custody for visitation, describing the details of the visitation schedule. One reminder on this, though, is a separation agreement is a notarized agreement outlining what you’ve agreed to do. If there is a problem with your ex not giving your child back when they are supposed to, you cannot call the sheriff to enforce the separation agreement. They would only act on a court ordered document. I’m not sure what your situation is, but if you believe your ex would play these kind of tricks, then a separation agreement is a good place to start, but you may want to file something with the courts in case they don’t follow the “rules”. I’m not trying to scare you, just being honest on the nasty side of things.


Dear BigTimeSupport:

Greetings. Remember that joint custody describes the legal relationship between the parents…referring to how the parties make decisions, etc. The words joint custody have often been used to describe a joint living schedule, but they do not necessarily mean that. Parties can still have joint custody even if one parent only sees the children one time per month…which may happen if the parent is living out of state, etc.

Also, I agree that you should have your separation agreement negotiated while you are still living in your home. It is important to negotiate your separation agreement prior to one of you leaving the home, if at all possible. Not only is this important for the children, but it is also important for the parents since they deal with the financial issues in the separation agreement.

Finally, remember that you should have the agreement drafted by an attorney whenever possible as you only have one chance to get the separation agreement done correctly. Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


I know this isn’t a “legal” issue but I can’t seem to get a response from the other forum, so I thought I’d ask it over here and hopefully somebody will read through it and be able to help me. My question is what affect would a separation and divorce have on a child who just turned 1? It is to my understanding that he will not be able to remember anything from the actual separation period and divorce. Is this true? Also, I’ve heard over and over again that it is not wise to stay in a marriage for the sake of the child. Is there truth to that as well? Please share any past experiences and/or advice! It will be much appreciated! Thanks in advance!