Kristi had her first (of many, I’m sure, thanks to Abbie’s biological father) court appearance today. It was to decide temporary physical and legal custody, of which the S.D. (the *ahem* donor, as he shall be known from here on out) felt he should be awarded. He wanted sole legal and joint physical custody, as in a “we’ll each keep her seven days and then switch, but I make all the decisions” sort of idea.
We were very nervous for Kristi, because the S.D. has played such a manipulative role in her life up to this point. We walked into the courthouse and right into a crowd of his “supporters”, which was startling, to say the least. My dad made the comment that he must have brought every last friend he had, which was mean, but sort of funny. It was also humorous, in an eye-rolling way, when his lawyer introduced all of S.D.’s supporters to the Commissioner, while pointing out that Kristi only had three people on her side. (Me and my parents.) Luckily, the Commissioner wasn’t impressed with the snarky comparison.
S.D.’s lawyer dismissed the fact that Kristi was a nursing mother, discounted our religion, saying instead that Abbie should wait for any religious instruction for ten years, at which point she would be old enough to choose for herself (Hello? I’m all for letting kids make choices, but how do they make a choice about something they have no experience with? In ten years, with absolutely no religious education, would she pick the LDS faith just because the temples are pretty? Catholic because she saw some nuns on “The Sound of Music”? I don’t mean to be offensive… I’m just saying it was a flawed argument), and tried to claim that because Kristi had considered adoption at the very earliest stages of her pregnancy, it illustrated how little she cared for Abbie.
Kristi’s lawyer was awesome. She’s this tiny, petite thing who looks harmless, but holy cow, did she bring her “A” game! She was offering up rebuttals right and left, and threw a couple of zingers at S.D. that his lawyers couldn’t refute. She was a spirited little fireball in leopard-print shoes, and we were very glad that she was on our side.
When the Commissioner took a recess to review her information, we were all a little nervous. She asked a lot of questions about S.D.’s work schedule, and I was afraid she might go ahead with a joint-custody order. When she returned to the courtoom, she said that she was going to give them joint legal custody (boo!), but that Kristi was the final decision maker. (Yay!) She also said that because Abbie is only four months old, she should remain in Kristi’s full physical custody (yay again!) with no sleepovers at S.D.’s for at least a year. (Thank GOODNESS!) Then she worked out a very specific (yay!) visitation schedule which gives S.D. the following: three days a week, followed by two, then two. Then it repeats. (Boo!) While we had hoped for less visitation time, it isn’t any more than S.D. is already getting, and possibly even less, when averaged over the month. Plus, he is restricted from taking Abbie after coming off of a 24-hour shift, which was one of Kristi’s biggest concerns. If Kristi can arrange her work schedule to match his visitation and/or work days, she won’t miss out on any of her time with Abbie, either. Of course S.D. has the option to fight this order, but being awarded twenty-four or sixteen visitation hours, depending on the week, when the state guideline suggests nine, I can’t imagine he’d find a judge willing to give him MORE than what was decided today.
So, we’re happy. It could have gone better for Kristi (sole legal custody and shorter visitation for S.D.), but it could have been a whole lot worse. Right now the visitation schedule is very specific, there is a court order backing Kristi up, AND it’s good for a year, as long as S.D. cooperates.
Thank you so much for all your prayers and well-wishes. I know they helped us today.
Sleep well, sweet Abbie! You’re with your mommy tonight, where you belong.