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Old 05.06.2020, 22:51
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Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Hello,

Unfortunately my relationship with my partner is approaching its end. We have a baby, less than one year old, and I am the father w/ 50/50 custody and recognized paternity (everything is official).

From what I have read around, fathers getting into custody battles with moms, are in dire straits here in Switzerland and not easy to get a fair outcome. Especially with a young baby like mine (< 1 year old). This is the case in courts as far as i know, and i have also heard that KESPs are not very father friendly as a general rule.

While I am preparing to go through this hell, I tried to look for family lawyers and I have contacted one or two. But I have no idea how to know if they are good. It's not easy to find a record of their cases and how successful they were.

Does anyone know any good family lawyer with experience in defending fathers in custody battles (both in KESP mediation and courts)? (expectation is to get the most out of a difficult situation - I don't expect miracles). Any recommendation would be much appreciated!

Thanks!
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Old 05.06.2020, 22:55
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Can't help with the lawyer sorry, but I understood that custody in normally split 50/50 in Switzerland
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Old 05.06.2020, 23:08
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Can't help with the lawyer sorry, but I understood that custody in normally split 50/50 in Switzerland
Thank you - 50/50 is indeed the legal custody (health & education matters etc). As far as I know, it's not the same with physical custody (where kid lives and spends nights)
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Old 05.06.2020, 23:20
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Can't help with lawyers - but do you need one?

Your post is not clear it sounds like you are not married. So no divorce procedures necessary.
<< and I am the father w/ 50/50 custody and recognized paternity (everything is official).>> You already have 50/50 custody officially sorted. A court would have no reason to change that.

So if I understood correctly, all that needs to be sorted is financial support for the child, visiting times (do you want the baby to be with you half the week? Etc.)

Why don't you try an advice centre first? like this one
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Old 05.06.2020, 23:43
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Custody is just the legal position of parental responsibility. Why do you think there'll be a custody 'battle', the general case is 50/50, shared responsibility.

How much time you each spend with the child is 'visitation' and what money changes hands is 'maintenance'. They are completely different questions and separately negotiated (and if you cant reach a settlement will be decided by the court) regardless of custody.
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Old 06.06.2020, 00:38
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Thanks everyone for the response. Sorry for the confusion.

Yes I am unmarried.

When I said that I have 50/50 custody, that's simply the paper that I signed in Stadthaus where I recognized my kid and established 50/50 parental responsibility (this is needed when you are not married in order to have rights on your baby).

>> Why do you think there'll be a custody 'battle', the general case is 50/50, shared responsibility.

The general case is 50/50 for legal custody, right? Physical custody is typically given to the mother and father gets simply visitation. Is this incorrect?

Also mom wants to move 45 km away which I object of course. Will she be allowed to do that? Is there any law defining the max radius that a parent who is awarded with primary physical custody, can move?
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Old 06.06.2020, 01:22
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Thanks everyone for the response. Sorry for the confusion.

Yes I am unmarried.

When I said that I have 50/50 custody, that's simply the paper that I signed in Stadthaus where I recognized my kid and established 50/50 parental responsibility (this is needed when you are not married in order to have rights on your baby).

>> Why do you think there'll be a custody 'battle', the general case is 50/50, shared responsibility.

The general case is 50/50 for legal custody, right? Physical custody is typically given to the mother and father gets simply visitation. Is this incorrect?

Also mom wants to move 45 km away which I object of course. Will she be allowed to do that? Is there any law defining the max radius that a parent who is awarded with primary physical custody, can move?
Sorry, this made me laugh. And 45km is really no big distance.

However, she can not leave the country without your consent. Well, she can but not with the child.
The custody part is sorted. There is no law about how to organize the care (Betreuung) of the child. No, it's not automatically given to the mother. The parents must agree on that.

Do you speak German? There is some info here.

It seems essential to me, that you TALK with your partner. You will be tied to each other via the child for at least the next 18 years. It is in your but mostly in your child's interest, that you two get along and are able to sort out problems and reach decisions/agreements. Being a role model starts right here and now.

If I were in you shoes, I would list how I would like things to be handled, ask my partner to do the same, then sit down and talk it through. Let differences sink in and talk again.
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Old 06.06.2020, 01:36
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Also mom wants to move 45 km away which I object of course.
I really hope I misunderstood this, because starting a legal battle over 45 km....
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Old 06.06.2020, 09:46
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Also mom wants to move 45 km away which I object of course. Will she be allowed to do that?
Yes, unless it's to another country.

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Is there any law defining the max radius that a parent who is awarded with primary physical custody, can move?
Yes, the national border.

Tom
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Old 06.06.2020, 22:43
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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The general case is 50/50 for legal custody, right?
Yes, that's the norm in Switzerland, and it has nothing to do with whether or not the parents were married at the time of the birth.

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Physical custody is typically given to the mother and father gets simply visitation. Is this incorrect?
Yes, this is incorrect.

Swiss law distinguishes between parental authority (in German Sorgerecht) and the residence of the child and who cares for the child (in German Obhut).

Sorgerecht 50/50 is the norm.
Obhut 50/50 is becoming increasingly the norm - though not altogether yet.

The decisions are always made - and this was a big shift in the Swiss laws, some years ago - in the child's best interests, and it is considered to be in the best interests, and even a child's right, to be able to freely have a relationship with both parents. This is done irrespective of the marital status of the parents and, increasingly, irrespective of the gender of the parents.

As far as is possible, the parents arrange, peaceably, between themselves, how and when the child will move between the parents. For example, some parents split the week into the child living with one parent for Saturday evening or Sunday evening until Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday morning, and then living with the other parent Wednesday afternoon till Saturday or Sunday evening. If a child lives more or less half the time with one and half the time with the other parent, then the school holidays are typically also split half-half.

In order to make this possible, many parents, both male and female, work part-time so that they can spend the rest of the time caring for their children. Some children do, indeed, live only with their mothers, but some only with their fathers.

Some people juggle their working hours by starting early or finishing late, while the other parent is doing the opposite. Some are fortunate enough to have employers who allow them to put in extra hours on fewer days of the week. Others find ways to be fully employed for a few weeks or months, so that they can thereafter have a block of time completely of work. Some manage to cover the gaps by paying for a babysitter or other child-care for some of the hours per week. Here's an example of parents having come to an arrangement that works for them both, and the child:
https://www.englishforum.ch/3035901-post49.html
Of course, such things change as the child grows and has different needs, and the parents' jobs change, and... just... life.

Yet others do a part of their work at night after the children have gone to sleep. Of course, this is not easily possible with newborns up to toddlers, when the parents typically just pass out from exhaustion, themselves, once Baby finally nods off, but this experience, too, can be shared/alternated between the parents. The exact arrangements may depend on breastfeeding.

The Court's or KESB's role is, ideally, only to formalise the reasonable arrangements that the parents have managed to make, by themselves. If no agreement can be reached then, yes, the Court will decree what is to happen.
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Old 07.06.2020, 12:19
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

My impression of the Swiss legal system is that if fathers want equal access to their children, they need to put in equal work from the start. If you have not, I suggest moving to where she wants to move so that you can actually have equal time with your child. I only know of one father that was willing to do this and he has 50/50 time with his children. He changed his work schedule and reduced his hours in order to do this. They both have time with the kids and time away from the children. Since they're sharing custody 50/50 and make about the same, there's no child support payments involved. I know this is exceedingly rare, but they both put in the work. They both get a social life and time with their kids. They also live less than a km away from each other.
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Old 07.06.2020, 12:26
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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My impression of the Swiss legal system is that if fathers want equal access to their children, they need to put in equal work from the start. If you have not, I suggest moving to where she wants to move so that you can actually have equal time with your child. I only know of one father that was willing to do this and he has 50/50 time with his children. He changed his work schedule and reduced his hours in order to do this. They both have time with the kids and time away from the children. Since they're sharing custody 50/50 and make about the same, there's no child support payments involved. I know this is exceedingly rare, but they both put in the work. They both get a social life and time with their kids. They also live less than a km away from each other.

Thanks for this example of how reasonable adults putting the welfare of their children first can make a situation work for the benefit of everyone. From what he has posted, OP would do well to take on board the comments here and rethink his attitude
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Old 07.06.2020, 13:04
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Legally there is nothing you can do to stop the primary care giver from moving within the country. Many women move away in order to make life difficult for the father and visitation harder, and the modern "you go girl" feminist mindset encourages many women to put their happiness ahead of what is best for the child (which is having easy access to both parents with as little disruption to daily routines as is possible). Your best approach is to show the mother of your child the scientific data that shows that young kids do best when dad lives as close as possible to the child. Perhaps put aside your egos and come to a middle ground where your ex moves to a town that has easier public transport access and would make any journey under 1 hour. I don't see any reason why you should have to fully accommodate your ex's desire to move to wherever she wants but a solution that creates a win-win might get her to come around. Show her the below article and have a serious chat about what works for both of you.

https://www.mydomaine.com/keep-close...0has%20custody.
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Old 07.06.2020, 13:20
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Legally there is nothing you can do to stop the primary care giver from moving within the country. Many women move away in order to make life difficult for the father and visitation harder, and the modern "you go girl" feminist mindset encourages many women to put their happiness ahead of what is best for the child (which is having easy access to both parents with as little disruption to daily routines as is possible). Your best approach is to show the mother of your child the scientific data that shows that young kids do best when dad lives as close as possible to the child. Perhaps put aside your egos and come to a middle ground where your ex moves to a town that has easier public transport access and would make any journey under 1 hour. I don't see any reason why you should have to fully accommodate your ex's desire to move to wherever she wants but a solution that creates a win-win might get her to come around. Show her the below article and have a serious chat about what works for both of you.

https://www.mydomaine.com/keep-close...0has%20custody.

And this USA study from 2003 with such a large sample size of 602 participants states and I quote "children of divorced parents are best off when parents are both living close to home (defined in the study as less than an hour's drive)," If you look at OP's post he says that it would take him 50 minutes to an hour to drive 45km with typical traffic thus showing her this supposed "scientific" study would only help the mother's case that she is not being unreasonable (or feminist) by wanting to move less than 1 hour drive away.

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Old 07.06.2020, 13:24
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Apart from that, we have no idea why she wants to move. Maybe to be closer to her parents who can help her with the kid? Maybe she wants to be closer to her work? So far we do not know why.
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Old 07.06.2020, 13:36
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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And this USA study from 2003 with such a large sample size of 602 participants states and I quote "children of divorced parents are best off when parents are both living close to home (defined in the study as less than an hour's drive)," If you look at OP's post he says that it would take him 50 minutes to an hour to drive 45km with typical traffic thus showing her this supposed "scientific" study would only help the mother's case that she is not being unreasonable (or feminist) by wanting to move less than 1 hour drive away.
The OP said 1h20 or 50m drive (one way) which would imply double the time for a pick up and return to his place.....attention to detail!
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Old 07.06.2020, 16:28
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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My impression of the Swiss legal system is that if fathers want equal access to their children, they need to put in equal work from the start. If you have not, I suggest moving to where she wants to move so that you can actually have equal time with your child. I only know of one father that was willing to do this and he has 50/50 time with his children. He changed his work schedule and reduced his hours in order to do this. They both have time with the kids and time away from the children. Since they're sharing custody 50/50 and make about the same, there's no child support payments involved. I know this is exceedingly rare, but they both put in the work. They both get a social life and time with their kids. They also live less than a km away from each other.
Thank you. Yes, I know three such fathers.

One did exactly that: he moved home to live near his ex-wife, which is also near the children's schools, to that the children can walk between their parents, staying with each parent roughly half the time, and they don't count the days exactly. He rescheduled a part of his working hours to fit around the children's timetables, and when they were smaller he organised and paid for a carer for them for the few hours' gap, and swapped child-minding with other parents. He and his ex are not friends, but they agreed to face it that their marriage is over, therefore to try not to continue the dispute forever, and to focus on being good parents. They can see each other at the children's school events, politely.

Another father also moved to be near his ex, where the children were living, initially. Thereafter, they sometimes stayed with him, and when she became ill the children moved in with him, and he provided all that they needed to see their mother, taking them up and down to the hospital, etc.

The third very active, participatory father has an agreement with the mother of his children that neither of them will move outside of a certain city, mainly so that they'll all be following the same school system and holidays, and to ensure that anyone can reach anyone within an hour by public transport. They've introduced one another to their respective new partners, and make agreements about the degree of their participation in the children's lives. From the start, the children have lived more or less 50/50 with each parent, and they schedule the dates for months in advance, and then stick to what they've agreed.

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Old 08.06.2020, 00:41
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

Thank you everyone for your helpful and thoughtful responses.

Regarding the distance that mother wants to move.
People get stuck to the fact that it's 45 km, but what matters to me as I said above is that it takes 1h20m w/ public transportation from my home, or 50min-1h with the car, all one way.
Why I find this bad? It's not in the kid's best interest. I don't know the law, and I am not a lawyer obviously, but here's why I think that is:
  • It'll be hard for the baby to come to my place because of the distance (assuming that during the first months/years? I won't get any overnights or extended time because baby is breastfeeding)
  • For the baby to be able to spend time at our current flat will make the transition easier (I guess). This flat is all this baby has known. Yes I know that they are babies and can adapt fast and whatnot, but AFAIK, you must not change/disrupt what has been a routine/normality for a baby. Suddenly going to live in a another flat, sounds too disruptive to me and can be stressful for the baby. Baby's feeling of home is this flat. I am not saying that baby should never move out, but being able to spend time here too, will ease the transition.
  • It's in baby's best interest to spend as much quality time with both parents as reasonably possible, and have easy access to BOTH parents. Spending time in trains or in car baby seats (which babies hate), is not really quality time. It's actually time lost.
  • When kid grows, it'd be so convenient for all of us if we can simply walk from one place to the other.

Not sure why folks find what I said laughable - but it totally resonates to me. Some time ago, I actually asked a lawyer about that (my relationship was gradually deteriorating since a while now) and I was told that moving 1h20m away is borderline on what could be acceptable. Maybe I remember wrong or I was informed wrong since many people here seem to suggest that she could even move to the other side of the country which I find unacceptable and even unbelievable. But anyways, I don't know the law.
Also, decision should not be made based on how far that place is with the car. Decision making process should not assume that I have a car or that I will always have a car. Decision should take into account the time it takes with public transportation since this is what my kid will use until 18 years old.

Some people are asking why she wants to move there; it's her mom's place. Though of course I find it reasonable and helpful if she has family to help, however, I do think easy access to the father (to cover / help etc) should be of higher priority than access of the grandmother. Is this totally unreasonable?

Of course, if she moves there, I will move close there as well eventually. Having easy access to my baby is all I care about.

Also, I'd like to address some insinuations about me in the above responses. I realize that I haven't shared many details about my situation (for obvious reasons) but parts of some comments are kind of offensive (they assume of me acting as paranoid, having attitude, seeking conflict etc).
- Of course I don't plan to fight her for child support. I am paying for everything already anyways (she has barely paid anything during the last year) and that's OK with me.
- Of course I want things to be amicable for the benefit of my child. At the same time, I want to ensure that I can get a lot of time with my baby and not become a father of every other weekend. I care for my baby, I have been involved in everything since day 1, and I want to continue to do so. Every free second I have in a day, goes to my baby. And yes i can work flex hours and could even go 80%.

@doropfiz, thank you for your very informative comments!

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Obhut 50/50 is becoming increasingly the norm
Is this true regardless the age of the child? Having a breastfed baby will make this impossible I guess. I want her to continue to breastfeed until 1+ years old of course, but I assume that after this making it 50/50 will be an uphill battle since that would "disrupt" what baby is used to? Does that make any sense? Anyways, what you say gives me some hope, cause everywhere else i was reading that 50/50 is a rare phenomenon given that Switzerland is very conservative on its approach to the matter. Cheers

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My impression of the Swiss legal system is that if fathers want equal access to their children, they need to put in equal work from the start.
@ NotSwissEnough, what do you mean by "the start"? As in, I should have been working like 50% since the day my baby was born? Or from the start of the separation?

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Your best approach is to show the mother of your child the scientific data that shows that young kids do best when dad lives as close as possible to the child.
That's a good point, and thanks for the link. Indeed it would be better if study was more recent. If you or anyone else know of any similar publications or data, please let me know. It would even be better if they are from a Swiss uni :-). Will google more of these anyways. Thx
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Old 08.06.2020, 02:29
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

If Baby is under a year old, then Baby doesn't care about the flat. Home, to Baby, exists in close physical contact with Mom, for some of the time, and in close pysical contact with Dad, for some of the time. That's all. Home is when Mom or Dad takes care of Baby's physical, comfort, hygiene and social needs. It doesn't matter where this is, including in her home, in yours, in a bus or car, in a playground, etc.

I really think you have to let go of the concept of trying to claim that the move your ex-partner intends to make is a bad idea. Really, I cannot imagine any Social Worker or judge thinking that a commute of an hour-and-a-half in one direction, to see Baby, is unreasonable. I think that if you persue this point, you are likely to end up unnecessarily casting yourself in a bad light as the obstructive, demanding person.

In fact, it sounds like an excellent idea for any single parent (and she is, and you are each a single parent) to live with one of the grandparents. All very sensible.

As you well know, caring for a small baby is exhausting. Starting as soon as she moves, I'd like to encourage you to put in the extra hours to travel up and down to there, as soon as you can after work, or before work (depending on your hours) and on days you're not working, to be there to help care for Baby, so that you and Baby continue your relationship, and so that Baby's Mom can have some hours off.

Perhaps it'd be possible for you to arrange a time to fetch Baby, strap Baby onto your body, go for a walk, so that Baby's Mom can have a nap and rest. You can agree to bring Baby back when the next feed is due, or better still before, so that Baby isn't crying, and you can offer to do some quick chores for her before you leave.

Do it all again later in the same day, or the next day. Be thoroughly reliable, stick to all the arrangements, be the trustworthy, solid best Dad (and supporter to Baby's Mom) that you can be, as far as she will let you.

Check out the area around where she's moving, and look at shops, cafés, swimming-pools, forests and libraries: places where you could wait without Baby and do something (practice the local language, read, study for your next course or training, do your life's paperwork, etc.) and community centres, playgrounds (also indoor), parks, etc. where you could go with Baby. If her parents find you reliable, then perhaps, after some time, they might let you leave a bicycle at their place. In such ways, you might save yourself some commuting because you'll manage to do something in the gaps between fitting in two visits into one day.

If you become known, to Baby's Mom and her parents, as the reasonable, sane, kind, helpful, supportive guy, who's always willing to jump on the train, to see Baby and to give Baby's Mom a few hours to herself, and to run an errand or two for her, and who properly feeds, changes, dresses, baths, plays with and soothes Baby, and who is always punctual as agreed, and who brings all of Baby's things back in the bag (if possible washed and folded) each time Baby comes back, contented, to Baby's Mom, then you may well find that you'll be laying the groundwork for all the other arrangements, as the years go along, working well.

If Baby's Mom is not exhausted, she might even do the commute sometimes, so that she could bring Baby (and a set of clothes) to you as soon as you finish work, so you could keep Baby for a few hours (and bath and change Baby) while your ex-partner goes out to do something for herself.

And the sooner you can move to live near there (and near doesn't have to be in the same town, only along the same axis of public transport) the better, of course, for everyone's time management.

And the easier it will become, as Baby grows, for Baby to spend time at your place. Just keep saying that you want the 50/50 split, but naturally some modified version of that that is practical for all of you.

And as far as it is in your power, make sure all the transitions/hand-overs are smooth and calm events, to keep the stress level down, for everyone, especially for Baby. The easier the transtions are, the more likely all parties are likely to agree to Baby sometimes staying at one parent, and sometimes at the other parent. The more drama there is, the more it will be in the child's best interests not to have to swap over, and to live at only one parent's home.

Last edited by doropfiz; 08.06.2020 at 02:54.
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Old 08.06.2020, 07:50
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Re: Any good family lawyer for defending fathers in child custody matter?

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Thank you everyone for your helpful and thoughtful responses.

Regarding the distance that mother wants to move.
People get stuck to the fact that it's 45 km, but what matters to me as I said above is that it takes 1h20m w/ public transportation from my home, or 50min-1h with the car, all one way.
Why I find this bad? It's not in the kid's best interest. I don't know the law, and I am not a lawyer obviously, but here's why I think that is:
  • It'll be hard for the baby to come to my place because of the distance (assuming that during the first months/years? I won't get any overnights or extended time because baby is breastfeeding)
  • For the baby to be able to spend time at our current flat will make the transition easier (I guess). This flat is all this baby has known. Yes I know that they are babies and can adapt fast and whatnot, but AFAIK, you must not change/disrupt what has been a routine/normality for a baby. Suddenly going to live in a another flat, sounds too disruptive to me and can be stressful for the baby. Baby's feeling of home is this flat. I am not saying that baby should never move out, but being able to spend time here too, will ease the transition.
  • It's in baby's best interest to spend as much quality time with both parents as reasonably possible, and have easy access to BOTH parents. Spending time in trains or in car baby seats (which babies hate), is not really quality time. It's actually time lost.
  • When kid grows, it'd be so convenient for all of us if we can simply walk from one place to the other.
Some people are asking why she wants to move there; it's her mom's place. Though of course I find it reasonable and helpful if she has family to help, however, I do think easy access to the father (to cover / help etc) should be of higher priority than access of the grandmother. Is this totally unreasonable?

Of course, if she moves there, I will move close there as well eventually. Having easy access to my baby is all I care about.

- Of course I want things to be amicable for the benefit of my child. At the same time, I want to ensure that I can get a lot of time with my baby and not become a father of every other weekend. I care for my baby, I have been involved in everything since day 1, and I want to continue to do so. Every free second I have in a day, goes to my baby. And yes i can work flex hours and could even go 80%.

For whatever reason you and the mother have reached the end of your relationship and, hard as it may be, you need to face the reality that you will no longer have the breastfeeding baby under the same roof as you and so no longer involved in everything on a daily basis every free second you have. Those are the hard facts. That doesn't mean you will become an every other weekend father but there will be boundaries and you are going to have to accept those reasonable boundaries and visitation rules for everyone's benefit and well being.

It is certainly in your best interest if mother moves within walking distance so you have easiest and most frequent access possible but it is not in hers and a breastfeeding baby will be very attuned to the negative emotions of an unhappy and stressed mother which is, in turn, bad for baby. Just because baby is close by does not mean you will be allowed to walk in and out for a visit whenever you please and you need to let go of any hope that you will.


Yes, it is totally unreasonable to try to deprive the mother of family support when that family is close and willing to help. It is not about whether a father has priority of access over a grandmother. It is not about access at all rather about you needing to accept that you will no longer be the one to give care and support to either of them on a daily basis and it is better for baby that a loving grandmother fills that gap for both baby and mother.

Would you prefer when mother is away from baby that she hire a stranger to babysit or that she entrust your child into the care of a grandmother? Again, you must accept you will not be the one she will turn to on a daily basis. What might happen in the future, as the baby grows, will depend on your reasonableness right now. Who knows where either of you will be living then and it has no bearing on the circumstances right now which is that it is better for the baby if it is living in a household where the mother has much needed love and support from family

I understand you adore your baby and are distraught at the thought of not seeing the child when you wake up and before you go to bed each night but those are the realities of your situation. You might want to convince yourself that you are fighting the mother because it is in the baby's best interests where, in reality, you are putting your needs first. If you are able to get past your pain and panic and realise that, it will be a better life for everyone.

Last edited by Mr Dog; 08.06.2020 at 08:04.
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