Legally, he still has 50% custody of her, even though she wouldn't know him if she looked directly at him. Since he has no interest at all in claiming that 50% we've been fine until this winter, when there became an emergent need for a Tweeny passport.
The irony is that if we had gotten married, all of this would have been settled when we divorced. When kids are involved, the legal shortcuts of marriage are pretty handy.
So I've tried to file for custody before (these days they call it primary residence), but was unsuccessful because the father is SO uninterested in custody that he wouldn't sign and return the paperwork I sent him.
Today is our initial court appearance for this process, and I am nervous. I don't like it when I can see how the government intrudes into my personal life; I like to pretend I am an autonomous free citizen--though I am clearly not.
It's also difficult to stir up the ashes of this decades-old relationship. Like it or not, at one time I loved her father enough to have a baby with him. Despite all of the years of aggravation since, I did once want to get married to him. We were parents together of a tiny beautiful infant girl. My 19 year old self wanted to erase the trauma of my teen years by settling down with him and being "normal" together. Of course, we never were and never would be. I'm pretty gay, and we were really young, and he had issues and I had issues.
My feelings for him now are mostly ambivalent, tending towards irritation when something I want can't happen. I don't even know the man any more. Our parenting-together-selves were almost half my life ago now.
My resistance to this legal process has been manifesting, though, in my body (which is sore and tired and stressed) and in a wild disorganization of thought and paperwork which is entirely unlike my normal manner of operations. I keep hiding paperwork on myself, sticking it into folders where it doesn't belong, forgetting to bring it to appointments, losing it, procrastinating filling it out. I'm taking out my feelings on the paper. Luckily the paper doesn't mind.
With a little bit of serendipity this situation will be settled--for all intents and purposes, although there is more court later in the year--today. Please think good thoughts for us.
UPDATE: I got the temporary order. It'll be permanent after another hearing, to take place in a month or so. She's mine!