I've been her step-mom for 8 years, now I'm getting a divorce
I have been in my step-daughter's life since she was 8 months old. We had 50/50 custody and I was a stay-at-home parent to her since she was a baby. I have done most of the pick ups and drop offs, and spent more time with her than either of her biological parents, as they both had full time jobs. I have worked part-time but always kept my schedule flexible to be available to parent her. She has called me Mom since she was a baby and views me as one of her true parents, not a step-parent. I don't have any other children.
She is now 8 years old, and after many many years of a bad marriage (which I have primarily stayed in because I didn't want to lose my step-daughter), I am getting divorced. Of course I have no legal rights to my daughter, and am at the mercy of her two biological parents as far as what kind of time I can spend with her.
I do believe they will allow me to continue to be a part of her life, but my question is HOW? Having her go between 3 separate homes seems awful and not good for her, but having me abandon her after being her primary parent and suddenly play a very limited role in her life seems bad for her too. I am going around and around in my mind with different time-sharing / co-parenting scenarios, but cannot figure out what is best for her. She loves all of her family and will be sad to lose time with any of us. The reality is that she is closer to me than to her Dad, but he legally has the rights to more time with her.
I have scoured the internet trying to find ANY story or example of a similar situation and how people made it work, but have come up with nothing. I'm hoping that maybe someone here has a similar story, or can at least give advice on what type of time sharing arrangement might work best? I would be so grateful for any advice.