I normally try not to air dirty laundry online, but right now I’m so incredibly frustrated…

My brother has two children with his ex. The second one was born in January of this year, and they’d been broken up since… well, a couple of weeks before she was created. They stayed good friends through all of it though, up to and including her birth. My brother friggin’ delivered the baby in the bathtub! And for the first two weeks of her life they lived together, since it was easier and better for everyone. They continued being friends, with him visiting pretty much every day after she went back to her place – wanting to stay close to his children (and they’ve been good friends, as I said.. hanging out etc.)

They were agreed that they would have joint custody.

Then they had a falling out. A combination of him saying he wanted to try again (as a couple) and her actually meeting a new guy. My brother’s been mainly nice about it, but she’s switched to a completely different person. Acting cold and suddenly saying he never cared about the kids. When it came to the day to sign the custody papers, she went from having been all for joint custody to suddenly saying that she wanted sole custody. Standing there, with the joint custody papers in front of them at the social services office… was the first time my brother even heard about this.

When asked why she didn’t want to have joint custody (it should be noted that they already do on the older child), she said “He’s not nice to me.”

Excuse me? He’s been trying his very best to be nice and accommodating. And yeah, I know he’s snapped a couple of times, but who wouldn’t when someone is changing from being your friend and confidante regarding your children to suddenly being someone who’s trying to make everything as difficult as possible. Not to mention… It doesn’t matter! It’s about the child’s relation to its parents, not the relation between the parents. And while they may not agree on everything, the visitation/him having them has never been an issue. (Except for once when she refused him visitation one day.) It’s not an excuse.

I don’t know how it works in other countries, but in Sweden we have to separate things in regards to children. Custody; the legal rights regarding education/daycare/medical/legal… everything. Visitation; you actually getting to see your child. It’s fully possible to have no custody, but still getting to see your children as much as 50% of the time. But any sane person, naturally, would want joint custody to ensure that they have the legal right regarding all of the things concerning their child. If you only have visitation the other parent can do pretty much anything they want, and you have nothing to say.

Not only that, but in Sweden we have a full 480 days of parental leave, and each parent gets half. With her having sole custody my brother gets nothing. Which means less time to hang out with and bond with/take care of his new baby. Their original plan, that they both agreed to, was that he would take two months during the summer. He’d have the baby, and she could visit as much as she wanted to, and of course have her a couple of times a week like my brother does now. Because it was agreed on, he’s already gotten the time off from work and everything. But now it’s all falling apart since he’s not getting the parental leave – and naturally can’t be off work with no income for two months.

I can’t help but feel that she’s being very selfish. And for no reason. She won’t even tell him why he’s “not nice”. He’s asked several times, cause he can’t figure out what he’s done that’s made her so angry that she’s done a full 180. But she refuses to answer. She’s also refusing counseling provided by the social services to help with these kinds of disputes. Basically leaving him with no other option than to sue for joint custody. Which can easily take a year or more.

I wish they’d change the laws here. When a child is born, joint custody is only awarded automatically if the parents are married. Any other time the mother is automatically awarded sole custody (even if living together with the father). I think that as long as the papers proving that you’re the father are signed – you should get joint custody. And instead you should apply if you want sole custody for some reason. Fathers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to have legal rights regarding their own children.

Sorry, I think I’m done ranting for now. I’m just really angry, since he’s been trying for weeks to make her change her mind – and her just refusing to even discuss it or explain her reasons for not wanting joint custody.


Venting — 2 Comments

  1. Oh, my goodness, that must be so frustrating for your brother! And it’s kind of weird that Sweden, which is so forward in the parental leave thing, still automatically gives custody to just the mother if the parents aren’t married.

    • Agreed, it’s very odd. They’re even discussing more ways to make the men use more of their half of the parental leave. (At the moment, they are allowed to sign over part of them to their partner, and they want that to be made impossible – forcing them to stay home.) They’re discussing all these ways to make everything more equal – but no one is discussing the fact that if the parents aren’t married, the custody automatically goes to the mother. So they can earmark as many of the days as they want. If the dads don’t get custody, they’ll never have them anyway. And, this may be cynical of me, but I think there’s a risk of women refusing to sign for joint custody if they know that 50% of the parental leave will be the father’s and there’s no way he can give some back.

      I just hope everything works out. I feel so bad for him regarding this.

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