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For reference, please see my previous question.

As a newly divorced father I have worries and I am not sure if I am making too much out of them or worrying about nothing. Getting some sleep at night would be nice as this weighs on my conscience every night.

To start, maybe not applicable to the conversion but worth noting my ex-wife does work, and has been on and off Prozac (currently back on for the last 2 years) and I have been noticing some strange behavior. Telling me something that did not happen, accusing me of not telling her stuff that did not happen, accusing me of losing or taking something my daughter had that she did not have.

Whenever I pick my daughter (now 4) up, her eyes always seem puffy like she has been crying or tired.

I see her once a month for the weekend.

I don't really notice any strangeness when she is with me, happy go lucky 4-year-old, likes to color, go to the park, go on walks, watch some TV, eat. I can tell you getting her to bed is a challenge, she is constantly up and down, drink, bathroom, more drink, story, bathroom again, before the end of the night you feel like you negotiated a peace treaty.

For the past year, every time I have to drop my daughter off, she cries as soon as we hit the street she lives on, sometimes it's just whining, sometimes crocodile tears, when I do drop her off, she will not shy away from her mother, doesn't really run to her, but is not in any sign of distress when she grabs her and carries her inside. A couple of times she has stood by car and cried and my ex had to come grab her.

The relationship between me and my ex-wife is stranded to say the least, she is constantly trying to trick me into signing stuff (sign off my rights, defaulting on the divorce, telling me she doesn't have a lawyer so I don't need one, etc.)

Based on what is given here should I be worried about anything? Not wanting this to turn into a wall of text, yes it is more a gut feeling that something is wrong, couple of things that stands out:

She doesn't want to go home and of course the crying when she has to.

When her mother does Skype with her when she is with me, my daughter does not want to talk and will run from the phone. I Skype with my daughter every Wednesday and as soon as she sees me she smiles and I try to talk to her but usually every time my daughter asks "When are you going to come pick me up?"

I do discipline my daughter, maybe not the same way my ex-wife does or for the same things and my ex-wife tells me nothing on how when or where to do so.

I do not want to call Child Protective Services (CPS) I think that's maybe a little more drastic than what the situation calls for and I am not trying to make my relationship any worse with the ex. I am just wondering what if anything can be done? When I ask or question my ex about anything it will usually turn into a fight and gets nowhere and getting any info out of her about what she does in a given situation usually leads to "You are the father figure it out".

Just in case it is important, location Maryland USA.

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    The accusations that seem to depart from reality are a bit worrying. I think you should start keeping a log of those, just in case they get any worse. – Paul Johnson Jul 16 '18 at 7:10
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I do not want to call Child Protective Services (CPS) I think that's maybe a little more drastic than what the situation calls for and I am not trying to make my relationship any worse with the ex. I am just wondering what if anything can be done?

Yes, from a parenting POV, you can attend joint family therapy sessions to learn about the best ways to co-parent after divorce (or co-parenting in high conflict post divorce relationships), and you can pay for them because from your post, it sounds like your ex wouldn't pay for joint sessions, and you both really need them.

It sounds like your ex prefers parallel parenting (you do what you want and don't involve her at all.) This can also work, but it also involves an agreement to certain behaviors, and therapy sessions (maybe separately) are helpful here.

If you're asking, "Am I right to be suspicious?", offhand I'd say no, you're not. I don't see any red flags in this post. Actually I see some good signs that she enjoys being with both of her parents.

She doesn't want to go home and of course the crying when she has to.

Reasonable behavior. If she were eager and delighted to be going to her mom, wouldn't you feel like a fifth wheel? Take it as a compliment that she enjoys being with you enough that she wishes it would last longer.

When her mother does Skype with her when she is with me, my daughter does not want to talk and will run from the phone.

Your daughter sees her mother (relatively) all the time; I don't wonder that she doesn't care to Skype with her when she has you to pay attention to her.

I Skype with my daughter every Wednesday and as soon as she sees me she smiles and I try to talk to her but usually every time my daughter asks "When are you going to come pick me up?"

Again, perfectly acceptable. She likes being with you.

...my ex-wife tells me nothing on how when or where to [discipline my daughter.]..."You are the father figure it out."

Parallel Parenting.

You seem to be putting your daughter first, and that's wonderful. I'm not sure your ex is, and while that's understandable, and not good for your daughter, it's not an actionable offense.

Your best bet is to convince her to go to post divorce parenting counseling with you. Failing that, go yourself, and I would suggest finding a support group for divorced fathers.

I do not want to call Child Protective Services...

Good. Don't do that. I can tell you from personal experience that using them to mediate disputes of a relatively minor nature is a bad thing. As an ER doc, I would sometimes repeatedly see the same child on Friday evening with the father wanting me to document normal/everyday scrapes and bruises asking me to call CPS on the mother, then see the daughter on Sunday evening with the mom, asking me to document something else (a rash/a new bruise/something worse but imaginary) and asking me to call CPS on the father. This is child abuse, and we did call CPS, but on the parent who presents for reasons of hostility towards the other parent. If it persisted, it often ended up with a judicial order that was unpleasant at best.

My last suggestion is to hire a lawyer to be involved in your disputes.

Edited to add:

I don't want to discourage concerned parents from using CPS or the Emergency Department when they suspect abuse. ED docs take claims of abuse seriously and do work with parents, CPS, and the courts on behalf of children, and that is one of the many purposes of ERs. However, unnecessarily subjecting a child to multiple visits - which involve significant wait times, full exams by strangers often including private parts and sometimes Xrays, etc. - is considered child abuse by the courts.

If you just want to test the waters to see what your options are, there is Law.SE.

Co-parenting After a Divorce?
7 Ways to Co-Parent Peacefully After a High-Conflict Divorce
Research Consensus Statement on Co-Parenting After Divorce

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I do not want to call Child Protective Services (CPS) I think that's maybe a little more drastic than what the situation calls for and I am not trying to make my relationship any worse with the ex. I am just wondering what if anything can be done?

Call them! (see note below) That is their job. You may not have a real issue there, but if you do having it documented will be a lifesaver. I am a foster parent and I see this a lot. The judge looks at the ex-husband and goes "Why didn't you notice anything? Guess you can't be trusted either." Not saying that "the judge" is correct, but if you have a paper trail of looking into the issues, then it becomes "I see you noticed a problem and tried to address it, guess we can trust you." CPS is not evil, contrary to popular belief. They will honestly try to do what is best for the children, though they don't always get it right. The "system" is not perfect, but neither is it a money grabbing troll out to steal your children. Let them do their job, and you keep a paper trail in case the worst is true.

There are two other areas to speak to. First, the seeming running to you/away from mom. That is normal. Mom is the authority figure most of the time. She is the one that is having to "punish" her with homework every day, and "torture" her with chores all the time. Dad, on the other hand, is a once a month break from the norm. Even if you do chores and homework it's different. So there is nothing to worry about there. Try to remember your daughter is not "running away" from your ex-wife as much as she is trying to spend more time with you.

To that end, I would recommend, if you can, spending more then one weekend a month. Every weekend, or every other day or even every day. Try you pick her up from school, she does homework and what not with you and then goes to ex-wife for dinner, and bed. That may not work for you, but more time will help, in general.

Remember if you have to say, "go home" that means that your house isn't home.

Next up is the discipline. That is an important one. You should never ever end up in a situation where you discipline your daughter differently than her mother. You and your ex should come up with a list of punishments and infractions and agree to them, and then when something goes wrong, pick from there.

Keep in mind that a punishment may not be the way to go and that there are more positive ways to teach what you want to teach. Punishments should never block visits. If she is grounded at mom's house then she still goes to your house, where she is grounded still. Co-parenting (and trust me I know this one) is difficult, but it means a unified front. Everyone has to buy off, and it works the best when everything is the same between parents. (Try co-parenting with 4 parents and 6-8 grand-parents) This takes a lot of communication between parents, and I know that can be difficult.

I would suggest you and your ex take some positive parenting workshops and classes. Maybe see "someone", even a church leader, or community support group can go a long way.

CPS Note

I am not saying call CPS, I am saying call if you suspect. Even if you have a gut feeling. Keep in mind that reporting your ex over and over for nothing is possibly a crime and is likely very harmful to the child, but calling once because you have a gut feeling is 100% fine.

What happens (around here at least) is you call a number, and your concerns are screened. If they think there is a legit problem then a CPI (special cop) is sent out to investigate. If they think there is no problem then it's logged for later. If the cop comes out and sees something that may be a problem that is not a danger to the child then services are offered. Things like counseling, education, workshops, etc. If there is a danger to the child then, the child is removed from the home and that's when they would call you to take custody till it could get sorted out.

Again this varies a lot by location, so it could be different for you. I don't see anything in your post that worries me, but gut feelings are gut feelings. Better to be wrong, then right in this case.

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