January 1, 2012 we relocated to the town where my (future) step daughter resided with her mother, stepfather and two siblings. We knew that this was our best chance at being as involved in her life as possible. We also had my experience of my parents living 45 minutes apart to draw off. I had always wished the distance between my Mom's house and my Dad's had been closer and we wanted that close proximity for her. In mid- January my (then) fiance got a call from his ex that we could have their daughter for a few hours on Saturday if that worked for us. At this point we would have moved heaven and hell to see her. So naturally we readily agreed. We were both fully aware that there may not be another opportunity to spend with her until court in March. We spent the whole day with her- opening gifts from not only Christmas but also from her birthday, Easter, Halloween and items we bought her for school. During this time we were also able to show her the rooms that we had worked hard to put together for her- her bedroom, bathroom and playroom. Finally these rooms were able to be unveiled and used. All too quickly the time flew by and before we knew it she was leaving. At least this time, with court on the horizon, we were hopeful that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.
After the visit with his daughter, my fiance went to our lawyer to see if there was anything we could do to try and reach an informal schedule of parenting time with his ex. After the lawyers communicated we received notification that her mom was agreeing to allow us every other Saturday from 8am-5pm. Far from what we were requesting but after only seeing her once the previous year we knew it was better than the alternative. So every other Saturday from 8am-5pm we started to build our little family. These were magical days.
March 28, 2012 we appeared in court. The judge heard testimony from both parents and myself. Interestingly enough no other witnesses were called (there was an entire list of witnesses furnished to us prior to court that we expected to hear testimony from). On April 3, 2012 we were given the best news of our lives. The judge awarded (temporary) joint legal custody. This meant my fiance had the legal rights to be involved in her schooling, medical decisions, etc. Best of all the judge awarded physical custody of every Wednesday from 5-8pm and every other weekend Friday at 6pm- Sunday at 6pm. This meant we went from 2 days per month to about 10 days. Best news ever. We still had court on the horizon for October but we both felt so blessed at receiving the temporary orders.
For so many reasons my fiance finally decided to settle outside of court with his ex. Anyone who has ever gone through court knows what stress it can cause you and although coming to an agreement with his ex meant settling for less than what my fiance wanted- it was the best thing for all involved to not have to go through that day in court. So in October of 2012 our temporary orders became official. Along with 2 additional hours a week, 2 more hours added to our weekends and a holiday/vacation schedule.