How to protect my rights regarding my daughter

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.

not an attorney. . . let me provide you with something to think about before you make a rash decision. speaking from personal experience with my 2 year old grandbaby. take yours and the mothers personal emotional feelings out of the equation and think about your daughters best interests first and foremost. read on the pros and cons to 50/50 on how it will effect the child. please don’t blow it off and say the child will adapt as your automatic answer. we have dealt with horrible night terrors since 50/50 court order. demanding of time and attention. . . anger issues. . clingyness to mother to where it’s impossible to go to bathroom alone. . sleepless restless nights. this is what the child suffers through and it’s agonizing having to watch this happen to an innocent child. bouncing from home to home gives that child no real home no sense of stability in her life. being tossed around like she’s a toy forcing this child to adapt to the parents wants. . not her needs. that’s about as abusive as hurting a child physically. you’re playing with the child’s emotions and mental well being. please think of the child first and foremost before your own wants and desires. you deserve to be a part of her life most definitely. but don’t ruin a very young child like that over what you want. think about how the child may suffer in the end. believe me it’s nothing fun to watch and have no choice over. research toddler night terrors on you tube and causes of night terrors. . . then decide if you want to risk doing this to your child.

You should seek out an attorney asap. Also – do not back down from your 50/50 stance. Once you lose time with your child it is very difficult to get it back. Not all or even most children suffer the emotional turbulence described by the above poster. My children have adapted very well and look forward to two christmas’s, birthday’s, etc.

If she will not give you time with your child then you should file for custody.