Out of State Visitation for Toddler

I know there’s no “typical” visitation schedule that NC goes on, but given the following facts, what are the most relevant if I want the judge to order limited visitation out of state and less overall disruption to our lives. I would prefer my daughter’s father come here for most of visitation. We currently have a temporary order that allows for 1 weekend a month here in NC, 5 days in PA over Christmas, and 14 days in PA for summer. 6 hours a day for all visitation. No overnights. To continue til her 2nd birthday. She will be almost 20 months at the permanent hearing.

Facts:

  • Unmarried at time of conception (I lived here in NC, he lives in PA) and at the time he lied extensively to me regarding his income and capacity to travel among many other things.

  • History of verbal and emotional abuse, threats of physical abuse, DVPO that I ultimately dismissed. I have his texts saved. He’s tried to blackmail me, lied to police officers, I could go on.

  • Father has verifiable anger issues and past alcohol issues (I have all his drunk texts, him admitting to driving drunk. He apparently isn’t drinking anymore but it appears to be hinged on his new relationship.) Also, I have testimony from mutual friends regarding his temper.

  • Father has strongly resisted child support and has only paid sporadically. We do not have an order though.

  • He’s made very minimal effort to see her and wants most if not all visitation to be in PA.

  • My husband has raised my daughter and been here with her every day since her birth. She is very close with him and calls him daddy. Altogether my husband and I have 3 other children. (Unusual situation because we divorced in 2013 but remained close and had an ideal coparenting relationship and remarried recently.)

  • I homeschool my children and have for years. I’m worried about how visitation travel will affect our daily lives, especially since my husband travels sporadically for his job.

  • Father is self-employed and works a lot. Presumably my daughter would be with his elderly mother or his new girlfriend (of 4 months) who he’s already referring to as her “mommy,” although she’s only met my daughter once.

Overall, I’m fully aware that he will get time with her. Given our unusual situation, her having siblings, my being a stay at home, homeschooling mom, her having a stable father figure in her life already, and his personal issues, what could be a reasonable albeit more limited schedule that I could propose at our permanent hearing that has a chance of success? Which of the above things should I be focusing on? I also have a ton of photos of my family’s daily life and her relationships with her siblings and stepdad, ample evidence of successful parenting, and a lot of character witnesses for myself in the form of notarized letters.

I’m in Johnston County btw.

At a permanent custody trial, you should propose the schedule that you believe is best for your child. If your supporting evidence and facts are persuasive enough, the judge may side with you.

I think it is likely that a judge will agree that there should be no overnights, especially with your child’s young age and the father’s drinking.

The facts you will want to focus on are what is best for your toddler: how a lot of back and forth travel time will affect her and you and your family, the father’s drinking, the lack of meaningful father-child time if your child is in PA for extended periods of time, the quality or lack thereof of a current father-child relationship or bond, etc.

For every piece of evidence or testimony that you enter at trial, you will want to make sure you can make an argument or reason as to why that piece of evidence or that piece of testimony is in the best interest of the child.

At a custody trial, you will want to put on as much relevant evidence and testimony as you have time for - judges usually want to hear as much as they can when they are tasked with making a permanent custody and visitation decision for a child.


Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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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 only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.

Thank you very much for your time!

I wanted to update this thread for future readers.

I had consultations with two Johnston County attorneys who both told me that even with the evidence I have (not hearsay, texts from father) and father’s documented history of domestic and alcohol abuse, it’s unlikely that will substantially affect his access to the child, except that it’s not unreasonable that initial visitation will be here in NC given that he’s not cared for her much.

It was extremely disappointing to learn and certainly doesn’t make sense to me, but this is what I was told and wanted to share this new perspective with future readers. It appears attorneys have conflicting views on these kinds of situations. I’ve resigned myself to having to work out a custody agreement with him or simply leave it up to Judge Love.

I was able to find an extremely comprehensive sample custody order that I’m using as a template and I’m including a section entitled “Safety and Protection” in which I’ll include something to the effect that the child shall not be exposed to the use of controlled substances or excessive alcohol use. Also, I’m including an expectation that there will be no physical (corporal) discipline, nor any discipline that involves shouting, intimidating, or otherwise degrading her. And should these things occur it can be considered a change in circumstances and may result in a change of legal or physical custody.