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Custody Change

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
It's been awhile since I posted here, any advice greatly appreciated.
After a full five years of peaceful co-parenting my ex has decided he wants 50/50 visitation of our two girls (ages 11 & 6).
Up until now he has seen them every second weekend, choosing not to exercise his weekly visits (overnights) as it wasn't compatible with his work schedule.
I've always made do, with daycare, family, babysitters, as I also work shift work and know how difficult it can be.
So, I guess my question is this - honestly what are the odds of this going in his favour?
I am remarried for the last three years, and he is engaged to be married this fall.
As a side note - he owes me over $10,000 in back support.
I've already contacted my lawyer and I guess I'm in waiting mode to see what he does.
I feel absolutely sick to my stomach that after all this time, and minimal interest - he thinks he can swoop in and take them half the time.
PS - I did offer many suggestions to increasing his overnights and visitation. He wasn't even willing to negotiate. 50/50 or nothing...
Any advice, tips, commiseration appreciated.
post #2 of 14

Has he actually filed yet, or is he just saying he is going to?  Do you know what brought this on? Has his work schedule changed so that he can be more available? Or is there any chance the fiancée is home on a more regular basis than he can be and he is hoping to use her for free childcare while getting the child support reduction that comes with 50/50?  I hate to be cynical, but it happens.  It might be helpful for you to know where he is coming from on this since it seems to be coming out of the blue.


If your kids are thriving in your care, there hasn't been any major change in your/their lives, etc., I don't think he has a great shot at changing custody.  My understanding is that it is harder to change an existing order, and that the burden of proof is on him to show that a change would be majorly beneficial to the children (not more fair to him, not status quo, but actually improves the kids' lives). 


Also, if you don't already have it, go back and mark on a calendar or spreadsheet or whatever, all the times he has cancelled on his scheduled time or the times that he has said no to extra time you offered him. 


I'm sorry this is stressing you out :( But, especially if he hasn't actually filed yet, try not to panic.  The child support wouldn't have any bearing on the custody case (at least here), but it sounds like he doesn't have a great case to make such a big change since he hasn't been using his time anyway. 

post #3 of 14
Document as much as you can on the cancelled visitation. It does seem odd that he's pushing for 50/50 and yet isn't taking advantage of his weekly overnight.

Some states are much more 50/50 than others and your attorney should know that info.

Do you think this is his idea or new fiancé? Does she have kids too?
post #4 of 14
Some states won't change custody in favor of anyone with back child support.
post #5 of 14
Interesting. He wouldn't look reasonable if he is not using all his parenting time now. I wonder what is up?
post #6 of 14

yeah, not taking his parenting time already and owing back support doesn't look good for him. What sort of change of circumstances could he be thinking is enough to warrant a change for the kids?? Like Greenemami said, the burden of proof is on him to show a change that would be best for the kids and it doesn't seem that anything has changed that way.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the replies. I honestly don't know where this is stemming from. He is engaged to be married in the fall to a woman who has two teenage children. He recently received a promotion at work and bought a bigger house... I've never pushed him on the support issue as I managed fine on my own income and whatever extra he have me.
I just find it worrying that I have repeatedly offered a large increase in his visitation, and as recently as yesterday emailed him again asking to speak about this without involving the courts. He won't reply to any of it...
Similar to many people, I don't qualify for legal aid and at the same time am no where close to being able to pay a lawyer.
I feel like this is almost like emotional warfare because he won't discuss it with me and I have no idea what his next move is going to be... I'm almost nervous to go and pick up the kids tomorrow night in case he pulls something. This is horrible.
post #8 of 14
Originally Posted by greenemami View Post

Or is there any chance the fiancée is home on a more regular basis than he can be and he is hoping to use her for free childcare while getting the child support reduction that comes with 50/50?

I think this hits the nail on the headhead.
post #9 of 14
It seems very suspicious given he has been refusing extra time all along.

Maybe he is afraid of the extra money he would owe given his new salary etc. It could be he is starting negotiations for you to agree to not file for child support arrears and increase in return for not asking for 50/50?

It seems to me it must have something to do with his increased salary or the fiance.
post #10 of 14

I tend to get really stressed out about the "what if's".  Right now, try to remember that he cannot do anything until he actually files, and then once that happens, you still have a while to react.  Keep the emails offering more time and to talk about things with him,  make sure you have documentation of the times he has missed, and then wait until he actually does something.  It won't look good for him that he refused to discuss anything with you if it does get to court.


In his mind, getting married and buying a new house are significant changes, but in the court's mind, these things are not seen as significant changes for the better in the kid's lives that would warrant a custody change. 


And I agree with the PP who said he might be stressing you about this now so that he can offer to drop it in exchange for something else he wants.


Good luck with the exchange today, I hope he doesn't upset you more!

post #11 of 14

Look into whether or not you can ask for an increase in child support following his promotion. You don't have to file for it now if you don't want to rock the boat, but if he does want 50/50 to decrease his child support, you should make sure they calculate it based on his new income. Who knows, he may end up having to pay you more anyways. ;) Have you done anything about the back support? They can garnish his wages.


I wonder if he's trying to look like a better parent to impress his fiancee as well, since she has two children she may be concerned about what kind of parent he'll be to her own children when he's so blase about seeing his own children.

post #12 of 14
Personally, I would tell your ex that until he exercises all of his parenting time, including the midweek time, you won't even entertain the idea of 50/50 physical. And then, it will only be if he is the one caring for the kids and not his fiancée.

While a court generally separates support from parenting time, it won't look good for him that he is so far behind on child support. You have filed contempt against him, correct? If not, I would and ask for the support to be garnished from his wages.
post #13 of 14
I think it is really sad that he is doing just fine financially and can't be bothered to catch up on support. Is he paying you the right amount each month now?
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
He's probably paying half of what he should be right now, based on our two kids and his income... I absolutely believe he is motivated by his new fiancée and guilt over living with her two children full time (young teens).
I bit the bullet and paid an outrageous retainer for a family law specialist. We are going after all the retro child support plus money he owes me from our divorce (division of debt)
I have yet to hear anything from him in terms of custody or access, or any change in same.
My lawyer advised me that until he actually serves me with something, we proceed as if nothing has occurred... This is both nerve wracking and satisfying, lol.
So, for now - I am waiting to hear from my lawyer about whether or not he has responded to the request for his past income tax returns.
Thank you for all the commiseration and advice! I think we are just starting down a potentially very ugly road...
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