California

This father has done a great job at staying persistent and it looks like it’s paying off! Hoping you’re granted even more parenting time!

I hope my story will be worth your time and that it helps others in a similar situation as mine.

It all began during pregnancy. **** began to act distant. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. Like any other man would have; I thought it was the hormones. Shortly after, it began to escalate up to the point where **** would repel any physical contact, as it made her extremely uncomfortable. After asking multiple times, we decided to seek professional help.

We began to attend couples counseling. After a few sessions, it was determined that **** had a breakdown. **** decided that we should stop going, and of course, I respected her decision. **** and I spoke after that, and she said that it was against her religion (Catholic) for us to continue our relationship the way we were going, as we were not married. We had plans on moving in together and eventually marriage. In light of this new concern of hers, I invited **** to go talk to a priest from the parish we normally attended mass. We asked if it was possible for us to live together without being married and permission was granted to us from the priest.

After we had permission, **** came up with yet another excuse as to why we could not continue the relationship. Things only got worst, as I still don’t understand why the change of heart. After a few discussions, we both agreed that it would be best for us to end our romantic relationship, but maintain communication for the sake of our child who would arrive in a short time.

With some of the discussions, I had offered a few options to ****: Try to work things out between us and try again with our relationship; maintain a neutral relationship to give our child the benefit of having both parents present in her life; and I even offer to walk away and give her child support. This last one would have been difficult, but I would only do it before our child’s arrival before I met her and had any attachment. We agreed that our daughter needed both her parents and that no child support would be necessary as we both loved our child.

We kept in contact and even went together to buy things like a car seat for the arrival of our child. When **** finally went into labor, I went to pick her up at her parents’ house and drove her to the hospital. She went into labor and I was there the entire time. I was holding **** while giving birth to our child, and I even got to cut the cord.

Our daughter had finally arrived. I have never felt a greater joy in my life. I spend both days in the hospital until both, **** and our daughter ****, were discharged from the hospital.

During our stay at the hospital, **** asked if it would be ok for our daughter to only have her last name and not mine. I was livid at the request, and of course I said no.

I took both of them to ****’s parents’ house, I took a week off from work to be able to spend with our newborn. I even spent some overnights at their house during this week. It truly felt like a really short week.

The time came for me to go back to work. I went every day after work to see how they were both doing with no issues. A few weeks past by and I received the news that my grandmother, who lives out of the country, wasn’t doing good, so obviously I took time off work to go visit and I explained this to ****. When I left the country, my phone was turned off, as I had no service out of the country. I came back as soon as grandma was out of the woods, not only for work, but mainly because I couldn’t believe how much I missed someone I had just met. My daughter!

When I crossed the border and was finally able to restore service to my phone, I received a message from ****’s father saying: “I regret to inform you that you are No longer welcome at our house, so please do not come to our house’’ and “Do not try and contact us”

I still don’t understand what the quotation marks mean. I was heart broken. I asked if **** was aware that he had sent me this message with no reply. I asked **** if she was aware that her father had sent me this message, and she said “yes”.

This is where everything began to crumble for me. I was blindsided and was desperate. Before having to leave to see my grandmother, things were going ok. At least that’s what I thought.

With the proximity of the holidays, Not many attorneys were available. I was able to find a firm who would take my case and help me. The law firm sent a letter to **** saying that she should allow me to see my daughter or face legal action. **** agreed to let me see our daughter for 1-2 hours a day on my days off from work. I was devastated. I had gone from seeing **** every day for several hours to only 2-4 hours a week. But anything was better than not seeing my daughter at all. I still don’t believe that a family who claims to be so close to religion, could have such a cold heart to do that.

The process for the first court hearing took a long time. I was seeing **** 2-4 hours a week from November until February. At the first court hearing in February, **** claimed that **** was dependent on breastfeeding and that would limit me as to how much I could care for her. Because I was able to prove that I had been to every OB appointment during pregnancy, took her to the hospital and stayed there throughout labor, and was visiting every day after work before my trip, the court allowed me to care for **** from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm on my days off from work with additional time if agreed by both parents (of course she never agrees to additional time). A huge victory, since **** was still under 1 year of age.

Because of this loss to ****, she opened a claim for child support as I was not spending enough time with our daughter. Since in California, child custody and child support are separated, the judge granted her support, $412 a month, as he would not accept the fact that my lack of time spent with my daughter wasn’t by choice, but because mom would not allow it to.

After 6 months, I was able to file for additional time. **** had gone back to work with rotating shifts and days off and I don’t have rotating days off or shifts. On this second hearing, with the opposition of ****, I was granted overnights, which is another huge victory. My daughter is now being dropped off at 7:30 am on my first day off, she spends the night, and I drop her off at 5:30 pm. This is every week.

I am currently in the process of filing for additional time. I found out that the firm I had hired has no experience in Family Law so I let them go. I do most of the paperwork myself now, and whenever I need help, or would like someone to look stuff over, I consult with a real family law attorney.

The next step is to ask for:
50/50
Right of first refusal
Maintain Pick-up and drop-off split
Alternate holidays and respective Parent’s day
Birthday schedules
50/50 on prior agreed purchases
Alternating taxes

As much as I would like to obtain full custody, because I fear that my daughter will be, if not already in process, coached to not want to be with dad. I don’t have the heart to take my daughter’s mom away from her. If an entire family who already had a good image of me was manipulated to stop all communication with me, who is to say that an innocent child would not be able to be manipulated in the same manner? I have always offered **** that if her days off happen to be on the days that **** is with me, and she wants to spend time with our daughter, that she could let me know and we could meet somewhere public if she would not be comfortable coming to my home. I truly want to give my daughter the benefit of having both of her parents present in her life, but I cannot do it if mom will not cooperate.