I’m not an attorney, but I am a father who has a vindictive former spouse. I am very familiar with the despair that comes from having one’s children kept away for no reason other than to satisfy the ego of a controlling woman.
My advice: sue for custody, even if it has to be done pro se (doing it on your own). Unless your husband can be proven to be an unfit parent (and that is hard to prove unless he has significant issues that hurt the child)then he will get a better arrangement than he has now - guaranteed. He has nothing to lose because things are already so bad. If this goes to court, he will end up better off than he is now. The NC court system will almost always grant the father reasonable visitation, at the very least. His daughter needs him in her life. She deserves his love and time.
I think it would be a terrible error to sign rights away just to avoid having to pay child support (or for any other reason unless he truly doesn’t care for the child). He cannot get out of paying child support. Get that out of your heads now. It is despicable that men are treated like banks to finance the whims of ex-wives, but that is just how it is and that isn’t going to change. Accept it. He MUST pay child support if he wants a legally binding custody agreement that will guarantee access to the child.
Yes, costs to litigate a custody suit can be prohibitive. Keep in mind, though, that the majority of custody cases never play out in court. The judge will require the father and mother to enter mediation to try to sort through issues. When faced with the potential of heavy attorney costs if the matter does go to court, usually both parties find some agreement. After the agreement is entered in court the mother can be sued if she refuses to abide by it.
This woman sounds like she doesn’t care what is in the best interests of the child. Create a timeline of her refusals to allow him to see his child. Document, document, document. NC is a “one-party” state so that means that he can secretly tape record his phone calls and interactions with his former wife. If he records her refusing to let him see the child or if she exhibits unprovoked outbursts then this evidence could be used against her.
To prepare for a custody suit he has to be able to demonstrate that she does not observe what is in the child’s best interest and he must demonstrate that he is active, involved and interested in the child. He needs to be involved in caring for her, taking her to the doctor when needed, being involved with her schooling (if she is of age), etc.
I strongly believe that NC courts will give your husband a reasonably fair judgment if he will only make the sacrifice to fight for it. Yes, it will cost some money. I can remember not having an money myself. But from experience I can tell you that you’d better find a way to get some money! Sell a vehicle, save money from a tax return, take an extra job, borrow from family, get a loan… anything. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations.
There are lots of book on custody rights for fathers (I recommend Fathers’ Rights by Jeffery Leving and Custody for Fathers by Michael Brennan). The two of you must study articles and read lots of messages in forums like this one. Become experts. Learn, learn and learn some more about how all this works.
I did it, and so can you. I have spent years studying this stuff on my own and have tons of links and resources that I can help you with if need it. My email address is email@example.com if you have questions I might be able to help with. Again, I’m not a legal expert… but I have been involved in a custody dispute for long enough to have learned a few things.
Fight. Don’t roll over and let this woman hurt the child by prohibiting access to her father.