My daughter Sophia is almost 2 years old. Her mother and I unmarried and going through a rather hectic separation. This is only the first week. For the last 1.5 years, I have been a stay-at-home-during-the-day Father. I work nights. The mother works days. The mother wants me off the lease and to have supervised visits with little girl, even though there is no history of abuse or neglect on either of our parts. Due to the nature of our separation (I was flirting with the idea of cheating on her, and she discovered me,) I feel that she is speaking from emotional hurt at the moment. She enrolled our daughter in daycare without my knowledge or consent, doing so by calling SServices and telling them that I no longer live here, therefore financially, she could qualify for subsidized childcare. I have been staying elsewhere than the apartment we both rent for the last five days, except last night when I returned. I wanted to talk. She did not want to. I said I was staying. She packed up Sophia and took her to a friend’s house and then sent her to daycare today. This upset me greatly. I didn’t stop them from leaving.
Today, I sought out legal advice. Legal Aid of Watauga County (in the NC mountains) suggested filing for a temp. custody hearing by way of forcing mediation, in other words having her served by the sheriff at work. There isn’t a legally binding custody agreement at the moment. As I said, this all happened within the last week. I want to proceed with this, but I feel that I should be more above-board with the mother than she has been with me. I have been considering just meeting them for dinner tonight and taking Sophia with me over to a friend’s place to stay the night. I have all the necessary things packed to make sure my daughter does not want for the evening. My reading of kidnapping law suggests that, legally, I should not have anything to worry about if I did such a thing.
I have been, by her own admission, a great stay-at-home father. My main concern is that I intend to ask and seek joint legal/physical custody. At least 50/50, as it were. There is nothing in our history that would prevent it, I feel, and only mitigating factors in my favor.
For the last 1.5 years:
I have been the primary cook and cleaner of the apartment.
I have been the primary daytime caregiver.
It is well-documented that my daughter has never been in danger or allowed to be put in danger by me.
The nature of the mother’s job does not enable her to work during the night and stay with daughter during the day.
I worked two jobs for the first seven months until the mother was able to obtain employment.
I suspect that she is speaking from her emotions, because she doesn’t really know how to seek out legal advice resources.
I have tentatively agreed to take my name off the lease tomorrow morning. I don’t really know that this will harm my chances, since friends and family have agreed to help me get set up in a nearby place of my own.
How should I tackle this?
Thanks for any reply, timely or no.