Tommaso Maggiore, the Long Beach waiter who lost a bid to stop his ex-girlfriend from leaving California with their infant daughter to finish school at Harvard University, said Thursday that he has decided to move to Cambridge, Mass., to be closer to his child.
“It’s kind of like a gut instinct is telling me this is the right thing to do,” said Maggiore, who had contended in court that it was unfair for his daughter, Bailey, to be moved across the country. “I’ve always wanted to be there for her.”
A family law commissioner ruled last month that Gina Ocon, Bailey’s mother, could return to Harvard with the child. Under a tentative agreement worked out Thursday, Maggiore would move to Cambridge, where he could be with the child up to 16 hours per week, plus a 24-hour period on the weekend. Maggiore, 21, also pledged to pay $214 a month in child support and split the cost of any day care for Bailey, who turned 1 this week.
The two parents expect to sign the agreement within a few days. If they fail to reach an accord, they must go back to court July 21.
Ocon, who said after she won custody of the child last month that she hoped that Maggiore would relocate to Massachusetts, said Thursday that she had “mixed feelings” about his decision. She said she worried that Maggiore would try to “control” her but added: “It’s time to be adults.”
Maggiore said he had contemplated moving to Massachusetts for months, but made up his mind last week after Ocon returned from a trip to Cambridge to look for day-care centers for their daughter.
“I couldn’t deal with being apart” from Bailey, he said.
The couple plan to fly back to Massachusetts next month so Maggiore can look for a job and an apartment. It’s a trip they have taken before--after Bailey was born, the couple planned to live together in the Boston area while Ocon attended classes at Harvard, where she has a full scholarship. But they couldn’t find an affordable apartment, and Ocon decided to put off her return to school.
Shortly after they returned to Southern California, Ocon left Maggiore, and they were soon entangled in a custody fight.
Ocon argued in court that she had a right to relocate with the child and reclaim her scholarship, which covered Harvard’s $20,600 tuition and about $10,000 in expenses each year. Maggiore countered that it was unreasonable for her to move when she could enroll in a well-regarded college in Southern California, and questioned whether she could juggle the demands of the Ivy League and motherhood on her own.
In the deal reached Thursday, the couple said they would take a parenting class together and may seek counseling. Maggiore, who court records show was convicted this year of two misdemeanor alcohol-related offenses, agreed to enter a 12-step program. Both parents also pledged not to consume alcohol in the 24 hours before any scheduled visit with Bailey, said Ocon’s attorney, Gloria Allred.
Under the agreement, Maggiore would visit his daughter at least three hours a day. Each parent would have six weeks with Bailey during the summer. This winter, Maggiore will have visitation several hours each afternoon, plus the latter half of Christmas Day, his attorney said.
Robert W. Gasper, Maggiore’s attorney, said his client had at one point planned to buy a handgun, but if he ever actually purchased one, he would keep it “secured” when his daughter visits.
Allred described the agreement as “a happy ending” for the couple. But when asked whether the deal left room for future disputes over custody of the child, she said, “If people act in good faith, [the agreement] is meaningful. We hope they’ll both act in good faith.”
Allred questioned why Maggiore filed for custody of the child if he was willing to relocate.
“I saw no reason why he couldn’t just move to Harvard,” she said. “Had the decision been made earlier, there’d be no need for a custody dispute, or a battle.”
For his part, Maggiore said he didn’t want to continue fighting with Ocon.
“I’m trying to make it easier for the both of us,” he said. “For the three of us.”