Should I be getting involved in a child custody dispute? Here is my story.
I had a neighbor that moved out of our area not too long ago that had a child at the time that was the same age as mine – just turned 1 year old. He was a stay at home dad and was separating in a messy situation from the child’s mother. She was a nice woman who obviously cared for her baby, but things just did not work out, as is the case with many relationships nowadays.
He asked me to babysit for him occasionally, which I did for the first while. I felt bad for his baby especially since the mother had restricted access from visiting her child altogether at their home and only supervised visits outside the home.
There came a time when months later he had a new girlfriend who he met at a single parent’s group. She had a 5 year old daughter who lived with her. I was no longer asked to look after his child. Rather, I was told by him that he would leave his baby with me – along with his girlfriend’s daughter to watch – while they did what they called a “dump and run”. I had never heard this expression before, but basically, this meant they went to a dine-in restaurant nearby for a couple hours to be by themselves. Needless to say, I felt taken advantage of since there was never any real appreciation or respect for my time, nor any offering of monetary compensation for my babysitting.
All four of them eventually ended up living in the house he owned together, but not for too long before she moved out. Skip forward to larger favor for him – a request I get to act as a reference for him in a custody battle. I was caught off guard and I had very mixed feelings about it. I told him I would answer any questions of the psychologist that was supposed to call me as best as I could.
I felt very uncomfortable after I agreed to chat with the psychologist. After all – what I said could actually determine who the baby lives with and determine its future. I wasn’t sure if sole custody of his baby was in the best interest of the child given my limited knowledge in the situation. Luckily, I was worrying for nothing because the psychologist never did call me as expected.
Just before his toddler’s second birthday, we saw a for sale sign out front of his house and found out that they had already vacated the property to a new place. We did not know where they went as he did not notify us of the move – just disappeared. It was a bit puzzling to us because we were on good terms as neighbors beforehand.
We thought perhaps he lost custody, but then I mysteriously got a pocket dial from him (not my first!) and he said he and his child were living in a place that must be kept confidential, a request which was honored.
When it comes to other people’s children, we have a communal and moral responsibility to ensure their health, safety and well-being as well. It is a fine line and hard to avoid overstepping into the parent’s territory. If you cannot make a strong argument why one parent should have custody over another, should you just mind your own business? When should you get involved in a domestic custody dispute?Email this article