I am thinking about going for child support, but im worried about the harassment toward me and the emotional pain for my daughter. The father has not helped for the past 7 years, and continually disappears from her life. I have started to see my daughter change because of the confusion he has started. I know that he will in-turn go for full custody and i will fight that. but i wanted to make sure that i have everything together. what can i do to make this process a little less stressful. any advice will be appreciated.
1 Answer from Attorneys
It is difficult to comment without more facts, but I think it unlikely you should be concerned about a retaliatory custody motion, unless there are problems in the relationship between you and your daughter. I presume from your question that you do not have a child support order at this time, and perhaps there is not even a custody order -- if, for example, you were not married to the father and never sought public assistance or tried to establish paternity. None of that matters, however. The father could certainly request custody in response to a child support proceeding, but the mere fact that you are requesting support does not give him a claim. More likely, he may request an order establishing parenting time, but the court will not automatically give him parenting time (that is, visitation) without first determining that it will be in the best interests of your daughter. Moreover, requests for custody or parenting time that are asserted only in response to a child support proceeding, and after many years of no contact, are sometimes viewed with caution by the court.
A great many facts are required to properly analyze your circumstances, but as a very general matter, I would encourage you to proceed with your child support request. Unless there is something unusual, a belated request for "full custody" is little more than an adult version of a temper tantrum -- and will not likely be any more successful than the child-sized version.
Feel free to call or contact me if you have additional questions.