Out of state visitation concerning a 21 month old


#1

Me and my child were previously living with the child’s father in Texas. I’m originally from North Carolina, so when we decided to call it quits I came back here where my family all live. The ex paid for the rental to drive here and funded the rest of the trip. We lived there for almost two years and I realize the jurisdiction of our child’s custody lies in Texas until he’s lived here in North Carolina for at least 6 months. So far we are trying to be civil about the baby. When I was in the process of packing he never mentioned anything about seeing our child. The night before we left I asked him what his intentions were on seeing our child and his response was “that’s up to you.” I kind of made up my mind after hearing that response that I wasn’t going to force our child on him if he was taking that sort of non-chalant approach. We left driving here to North Carolina last Saturday (April 9th).

I’ve now spoken with him this evening and he is telling me he went to see an attorney there in Texas and wants to come up with some sort of visitation schedule to be filed with the courts there. He’s coming at me with wanting entire summers, rotating Christmas/Thanksgiving and random weekends here and there with a lot of notice given to me for said weekends.

My problems with this sort of arrangement are that our son isn’t even two years old yet. This sort of schedule at such a young age is just a bit much. I’ve done some research on this tonight online and most articles I read on this matter say that at this age frequent/short visitations (not overnight) are the way to go and that prolonged separation from the primary caregiver can be traumatic on a child. (Obviously frequent/short visitations are pretty much impossible given the distance.) Additionally, the father has some pretty severe mental issues like manic depression, and most recently was diagnosed with PTSD after a deployment in Iraq. He’s fine when he’s on his medication; when he sporadically decides to quit taking it it becomes very problematic. He’s done this repeatedly over the past two years while we were there in addition to heavily drinking. He becomes very violent and short tempered when he’s not taking his medication and/or drinking. He was never physically abusive to neither me nor our child however he has become very angry with our child, screaming and yelling at him because our child was whining, throwing things and making holes in the walls, and in general throws tantrums. When he is drinking it’s even worse; he will sit and obsessively listen to certain songs over and over and over, crying and so forth, drinks till he can’t walk, sets things on fire on the back patio and is pretty much incapable of taking care of himself at that point, let alone a two year old. He’s also gotten drunk and left the house in the car on more than one occasion, one time resulting in an accident. He was declared 100% disabled by the VA some time last year due to the PTSD and receives VA benefits for this reason. I have no proof of any of these tantrums or drinking binges; his parents were around a few times and witnessed some of this however, they will uphold their son no matter if he’s in the right or wrong, even if it includes lying for him and excuse virtually anything he does due to his mental issues. I realize he cannot help that he has mental problems, but whether he can or can’t, his behavior just isn’t conducive to an environment a child should be in.

There’s no custody or visitation order in place currently. I’m not trying to keep him from our child if he wants to be a part of his life, however I really just cannot imagine my child being 1,200 miles away from me with the issues his father has. Sure, he’s been on his medication and doing well for the past couple months, but he’d been on it before and just randomly goes off of it. Since I’m not living with him anymore I don’t know what he’s doing, if he’s taking his medicine, drinking or what. To be completely honest, even if he came here and rented a hotel or something for a weekend I’d feel a little bit better about that, but he could also act crazy and get drunk in this state just as well as he can in Texas and I’d be on edge even knowing he was still here with him in this state. My child isn’t old enough to call me if something is going on no matter where he’s at.

My questions are:

  1. Could he stipulate in some sort of agreement here in North Carolina to allow this state to have jurisdiction of the custody/visitation in such a way that an order here would be enforceable and so that he couldn’t come back later on and try to declare the order invalid due to improper jurisdiction?

  2. Would it be better to go on and enter into an agreement filed with Texas courts? Would Texas order be enforceable in the state of North Carolina or vice versa?

  3. Should I try and wait out 6 months for the jurisdiction to switch over to North Carolina so he would have to file papers on my turf?

I don’t really want to run the risk of him filing an actual suit in Texas as I have no way to defend such an action right now due to being unemployed after moving back here. It’d be nice to enter into some sort of mutual agreement, however with the father’s history I cannot in good faith allow my child to travel in the manner he suggested earlier especially given his age. He doesn’t even have family close by in Texas who I could stipulate in some sort of supervised visitation situation. His parents live in Mexico and the next closest would be about 3-4 hours from him and I don’t even know those people.


#2

Texas has jurisdiction over child custody as it is still the child’s home state, an agreement or order based in Texas can be registered here, and will be enforceable.

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