Marriages End, But Baby Daddies Are Forever!

I probably use this snarky phrase in conversation with clients at least once a day. My clients come to me so frustrated, so tired, and often so unreasonable in their expectations. I use this time-tested principle - baby daddies are forever - to convey to my clients that shutting out the other parent is next to impossible.

The Texas Family Code assumes both parents are good parents until one of the parties proves otherwise. It assumes that appointing both parents conservators, giving them the right to visitation and shared decision-making, best serves the child's interest. You can beat these presumptions if the other parent's involvement brings risk to the child, but that is a hurdle. And the legislature wants that hurdle.

Parents fight. They are adults and around each other all the time. That frequency of contact and personal investment creates a landmine of opportunities to breach expectations and cause harm. Parents expose children to that landmine, whether through seeing verbal spats or being abused by an angry parent. Obviously, if you feel your child is at risk, protect that baby. But understand that your adult fights do not change the basic math in a judge's head - as long as there is no risk to the child, you will have to learn to co-parent.

It can be so hard to co-anything with a person you want to leave in your rear view mirror. I wish my clients didn't have to go through that pain, but baby daddies are forever and the other parent will be in the picture as long as your shared child is alive. If you cut that person out, you cut out half of who that child is and create pain that only years of therapy can deal with.

Learn to negotiate. Don't start a divorce or custody proceeding with the aim to bury the other person and cut him or her out of the child's life. The law doesn't let you do it and I won't let you do it. Again, protect your babies, but risk to a child is narrowly defined. More than likely, you will be working with your child's other parent for many years. Starting off right with a friendly but firm divorce or custody proceeding can set the tone for negotiation without weakness.