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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Father Does Not Want to Share Daughter with Ex-Spouse

Written by  Marc Garson, MSW, ACSW, ACP

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I am a 46-year-old male who is about to be remarried. My fiance is divorced with an 11-year-old daughter. The court has awarded joint custody to my fiance and her ex-husband (one week with one, the next with the other). My problem is that the ex-husband is threatening the child with loss of love if the daughter chooses to live with her mother. The daughter has said that to both my fiance and me. It appears now that the daughter is being used as a pawn against my fiance. Her ex is extremely bitter and vindictive and is not above using anyone, including minors, in order to achieve his own goals. I have tried using reason and done my best to avoid saying anything bad about her father, yet feel that her father has disparaged me enough that she does not believe me.

Please give me some advice, if possible, on how to handle this situation before it becomes untenable. I know she sees a difference in how her mother acts around me as opposed to how she was around her dad. I want to help her before she becomes caught in an untenable position.


Here's the best advice I can offer:

  1. Get her age appropriate books on step-families and on divorced parents.
  2. Reassure her often that you will always be there for her, and ALWAYS LOVE HER!
  3. Help her understand her dad's behavior. You can explain that he is still hurt by not being with Mommy anymore, and sometimes when people are hurt, they act like angry "kids on the playground."
  4. See if ex-husband / dad, would agree to discuss the issue in some sort of counseling / or therapuetic milleau.
  5. Raise it with the court in a letter to the judge who presided over the divorce, with a cc to the dad. Try not to be overly "defensive" in tone, but rather "appropriately" concerned about the emotional stress being put on the child.
  6. Finally, the most important "long-term" advice I can give you is to see your role vis-a-vis your fiance and her ex as supportive and sympathetic, while simultaneously advocating being as "reasonable" and understanding as possible.

Marc Garson, MSW,ACSW, ACP

Last modified on Thursday, 26 May 2011 08:29
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Marc Garson, MSW, ACSW, ACP

Marc Garson, MSW, ACSW, ACP

Marc Garson has a BA in psychology from the University of Texas in Austin, a MasterSs of Social Work (MSW) from Yeshiva University in New York City, and a Master of Science in Business Management from Boston University. He has been a practicing clinical psychotherapist since 1986. He is a licensed clinical social worker and advanced clinical practitioner in the State of Texas, and a longstanding member of the National Association of Social Workers. His clinical specialties include marriage and family, adolescence, parenting, and family therapies. He also has an extensive background in chemical dependency and codependence treatment. Marc is married and the father of three beautiful little girls: Daniella age 7, Ariella age 6, & Miera age 3. Marc's special interests and hobbies include football, rock and jazz music, boating, weightlifting, chess, philosophy, and business. He loves to travel, and is something of a gourmet chef.

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