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Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

Custody and Dealing with Threats

Custody and Dealing with Threats
By Heather (bettycrockerpunkrocker)

For whatever reason, it didn’t work out with you and your child’s father. Then one day, out of nowhere he decides he wants custody. He doesn’t approach you nicely, he threatens you. He belittles you. He tells you you’re unfit and he’s taking you to court. He’s going to hire a lawyer with all that money he didn’t spend on child support. The judge is going to hear all about the people you sleep with, how messy your house is, and that time you smoked pot. You probably don’t know whether to believe him, and of course you’re insecure. You see and hear everywhere that being young and single makes motherhood impossible. There are plenty of things you can do, but the first thing you need to do is relax. Remember that threats and insults, like most forms of abuse, are means of gaining power and control.

1. Beat him to it. If no custody or support has been established, go to your local court house to file. The forms are usually very inexpensive and all counties have fee-waiver applications for low income people. Many states also have websites where legal forms can be downloaded for free. After your forms are completed and filed, you will have to have him served with the paperwork. This sometimes leads to more threats and insults, but remember, only the judge can decide what will happen.

2. Go to court. If he follows through with his threat and takes you to court, make sure to be there. Remember that a family law judge sees this sort of thing every day, and your case is probably no exception. While every individual situation is different, this pattern of BD behavior happens every day, and the judge will know what to do. Be honest, be respectful, and you will probably be happy with the results.

3. If you end up having to share more custody than desired, try to focus on the positive. Supervised visitation is easy to get in most states for very young children. You may be very uneasy about your child being without you, and this is normal. Do your best to be cordial when dropping off and picking up your child. Try to use the time you have without your child to relax, have fun, or catch up on chores or homework. Also, remember that your child is a person, not property. Things won’t always go your way, but as long as your child is safe and happy, small compromises probably won’t hurt.