Wife moved out 6 months ago. We had been in counseling, but she quit. Prior to her moving out, we discussed the terms of a divorce. I told her that I was not leaving and that anything less than 50-50 shared custody was not acceptable to me. A few weeks before she left she sent text messages asking me about the 50-50 custody. She said "if we do that, I think the following parenting schedule is best for everyone". Then she attached a 2-2-3 schedule. Our kids are young and she felt it was best that they don't go more than a few days without seeing the other parent.
So she moves out without telling me of her plans and serves me with divorce papers. Attached to the papers is a letter from her lawyer telling me that the kids are with her and that he is drafting a consent order whereby the kids would be with her and I will have them every other weekend and every Wednesday night for dinner. Not being a complete idiot, I just ignored the letter. He can draft whatever he likes, but no way in hell I'm signing that.
So the first weekend was "my weekend". The kids came home and they were back with me with no signed agreement between my STBX and myself. She expected them back after the weekend to beging her desired parenting schedule, but I was not falling for that. I retained a lawyer and we offered 50-50 shared custody (according to the schedule she proposed weeks earlier via text messsage). If she didn't want that, the kids would just stay with me in the marital home. Within 24 hours, she signed the Interim Consent Agreement and we had the Temporaty Custody set at 50-50 shared.
We are not getting a PL Hearing. This custody arrangement has been in place for 6 months. We are not eligible for a final divorce hearing for another 6 months (must be separated for a year in Maryland). Nothing is going to change between now and 6 months from now.
In an effort to save $$ and resolve the divorce, we proposed a settlement adopting the status quo. STBX refused and her lawyer shot off a nasty letter advising that we should prepare to litigate because she will "never agree to 50-50 shared custody". Umm, she kind of already did, right?
So .. what is her deal? What is her strategy? She already agreed to it on a "temporary" basis 6 months ago. We adopted the parenting plan that she herself proposed. We have the text wherein she said that she thought that plan would be best for everyone. So now she says that she only signed the Interim Consent Agreement under duress because I was otherwise refusing to let her have the kids.
The kids are doing fine. Wife's attorney previously asked for a GAL to be appointed. We opposed and the Motion was DENIED by the court. There is no Best Interests atty. involved in the case at this point. There have been no "incidents" even though we detest each other.
So ... I need to gear up for a custody trial now. What are my chances in MD? The current custody agreement will have been in force for more than a year by the time we get to court. The kids are clean, well fed, doing their homework, getting to school on time, well dressed, and happy in the marital home with me 50% of the time. What should I expect and what is her argument likely to be?
My STBX and I both work normal office hours. She actually makes about $15k more than I do. There has been no child support paid to date and she has not contributed any $$ to the mortgage since well before her exit from the home.
Thanks in advance for any insight / comments.