Summer visitation (x-posted in Single Parenting - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 06-13-2014, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Summer visitation (x-posted in Single Parenting

Hi everyone,

I am wondering how others handle summer visitation schedules. The divorce agreement between ex and I states that DS can visit Ex for two 2-week periods during the summer, but it does not include anything about a deadline for Ex to let me know the dates he would like to have DS.

This has not been too much of an issue in the past, as Ex usually takes DS for just one week (which usually is the same week each year). But this year, Ex wants DS for 2 weeks, which are not around the time he usually has DS during the summer, and he just told me this yesterday. I have already scheduled camps, activities, and vacations that I am now going to have to cancel or move around. (I realize this part is my fault, and no, unfortunately, Ex will not agree to take DS to any of the scheduled activities.)

I'm looking at this as a "live and learn" kind of experience, and one I want to avoid for next year. So, do you have any sort of built in deadline about these things in your agreement? And since I don't, what is the best way for me to handle this...I can ask Ex in writing to let me know which dates he would like DS for the summer by a certain time, but will that hold up legally if issues come up? Or should I contact a lawyer and try to add more detailed guidelines into our agreement?
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#2 of 11 Old 06-14-2014, 03:45 PM
 
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I have a similar problem. Our visitations even throughout the year state that my ex gets the kids 2 nights when he gets home off the road. Weeeeelllll, sometimes he thinks he is getting in one day but he has to work another day or he has lied to me about when he is getting in or won't call until he is already almost back in town even though I was expecting him the next day! Soooo, things have gotten a little better because teh kids are old enough that they were starting to complain and get upset about how much this messed with different events they had planned, etc. I do try to talk to ex about whatever I am signing kids up for basketball camp, etc so that if it falls on his time that the kids know they will still get to go. Our summer vacation times tho have been hard to get him to tell me and yeah it stinks. Just found out the night before that he was taking kids for a week. But like I said it has gotten better with the kids giving more input so that he realizes how we have a life too.

I'm a single working mom of 3 wonderful kiddos. 

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#3 of 11 Old 06-19-2014, 06:55 AM
 
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You could hire a lawyer but I doubt it would accomplish your objectives. Family court, in my experience, is about enabling each parent to spend the allotted time with their children, not about what is actually "fair" to both adults. So I doubt that a court officer would endorse an order assigning actual dates to the visitations unless there was a history of non-compliance or drastic problems that prohibited the parental visits. It seems likely to me that that father would be the favored parent in that he is trying to accommodate his limited time with the children into his schedule. I've even known of court officers deducting travel costs from support payments so that the non-custodial parent who chose to live far away from the child's home & primary caregiver wouldn't incur an "unnecessary hardship" by traveling to visit them. So I would try to work it out with him, even though it seems unfair.
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#4 of 11 Old 06-22-2014, 01:54 PM
 
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Check your parenting plan and divorce documents, usually there is a 30 day notice he should give.
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#5 of 11 Old 06-23-2014, 08:31 AM
 
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As part of the "live and learn," I'd put the whole thing in writing through email - the fact that you had to move around camps, noting financial losses if any, and asking for 60 days days notice next year. Then next year, about 90 days out, another email discussing registration deadlines for camps and reiterating your request for notification. If he tries to pull the same thing, then push back, offering dates that don't conflict with your kid's scheduled activities. Even if he took it to court (unlikely), there is a paper trail of you being reasonable and him being a jerk. Meanwhile, you're training him to understand that if he doesn't PLAN the visitation, he doesn't GET the visitation.
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#6 of 11 Old 06-24-2014, 02:54 AM
 
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^ Very good advice to document attempts for planning. OP said: "I can ask Ex in writing to let me know which dates he would like DS for the summer by a certain time, but will that hold up legally if issues come up?" And I think that you should put things in writing from now on, with plenty of lead time. I think that it would be legally binding as "establishing a pattern"... So if he breaks his written agreement with you more than 3 times, say, then you would have grounds for asking for a more binding legal contract (an amendment to the custody agreement) on the grounds that you are not able to maintain effective communication with him regarding his visitation. In general you are not likely to be able to enforce a single incident or occasional sporadic incidents of him changing plans because you are expected to be supportive of your son's relationship with his father.

Even if a parent doesn't plan well, they do get their visitation, by court enforcement and police escort if necessary.

It isn't uncommon for an uncooperative ex to take a passive-aggressive approach and carelessly or deliberately inconvenience the other parent. In this case maybe your ex simply did not consider that you assumed that this year would be the same as in prior years, and his "change of plans" (to your expectation) is not a lack of cooperation but just an innocent breakdown in communication.

Not all divorce & custody agreements have specific requirements for giving notice regarding visitations either unless the divorced couple agree to include it or there is a history of unreliability or requirement for supervised visits, etc. Sometimes even if there is a set schedule it can be amended or disregarded with little chance of compliance or penalty. The inconvenienced parent is often seen as being uncooperative or trying to interfere with or damage the relationship with the other parent's visitation rights if they complain. This has been a common problem arising from the "father's rights" movement; not that fathers don't have rights (or that it's entirely a gendered issue) but for the primary caregiver (has usually been the mother) parenting is "responsibility for the kids" where for the other parent (has been usually the father) it's "rights to the kids."

I think that this is an area long overdue for reform, with better legislation and higher standards of care to protect the children and primary caregivers. It seems quite unreasonable to assume that parents who decided to end their relationship will be able to cooperate well and respect the other for the duration of the child-rearing years regarding schedules, money, and lifestyle choices - issues that may have contributed to the dissolution of their relationship in the first place. Sometimes things go well until someone remarries or starts another relationship, or until someone wants to relocate, or if there are money problems... Sometimes they start out badly but get better, too. But I think it would be best for there to be a more standardized, formal, and enforceable structure for custody that would better ease the natural tensions that will arise between divorced parents because the strain of that relationship is very hard on everyone, including the kids. Expecting the parents to just work it out or "supervise" the other regarding compliance with their agreement doesn't seem to work for a lot of people. Maybe state-mandated periodic reviews and revisions during a hearing with a court officer could help mediate difficulties and ensure that the situation is working for everyone. Also "soft" agreements at the beginning of the process could be prohibited because although the parents may have good intentions life can get more complicated, especially in family relationships. Honestly I can't think of another formalized contract you can make with another person that can be as undefined as a custody agreement; a simple credit card contract is far more detailed and binding than the agreements we make regarding our children.
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Last edited by pumabearclan; 06-24-2014 at 09:39 AM.
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#7 of 11 Old 06-24-2014, 02:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pumabearclan View Post
Not all divorce & custody agreements have specific requirements for giving notice regarding visitations either unless the divorced couple agree to include it or there is a history of unreliability or requirement for supervised visits, etc. Sometimes even if there is a set schedule it can be amended or disregarded with little chance of compliance or penalty. The inconvenienced parent is often seen as being uncooperative or trying to interfere with or damage the relationship with the other parent's visitation rights if they complain. This has been a common problem arising from the "father's rights" movement; not that fathers don't have rights (or that it's entirely a gendered issue) but for the primary caregiver (has usually been the mother) parenting is "responsibility for the kids" where for the other parent (has been usually the father) it's "rights to the kids."
This has been the case for my family. It doesn't seem to matter what my ex does or doesn't do, the court makes it easier on him and gives me more responsibility. He refused to participate in a report that would determine whether he'd taken sufficient measures to ensure he wouldn't abuse the kids again, so they decided to skip that. He didn't want to pay for a supervisor or ask his parents to help out with that, so they browbeat me into finding an alternative (my husband). It's in the order that he's supposed to have weekly contact via Skype, email or phone with the kids and he can't be bothered to follow through, they just wag a finger at him about that. He dumps the kids for 2 - 5 months at a time, visits just resume as though it never occurred.

He sets up visits and then cancels, often he tries to bait me into an arguement with him during the planning stage of a visit. It seems as though it was his hope that I would deny access and he's trying to manipulate the situation so that I will get frustrated to the point that I do just that. One time he even pretended that his parents had set up a visit and had emailed me and the kids (separate emails) just letting me know he'd be tagging along. That was the day before he'd be showing up at our door. I had to email him all the correspondence between me and his parents to show him that there was no visit arranged, to deny him access when he was only giving about 15 hours notice. I'm sure if he brings up that incident in court, they will side with him and I will get in trouble for being unreasonable. I do everything by email but the judge won't even look at documentation.

I've told him that for longer visits, there's a chance the kids will get homesick so I'd like to talk to them every few days while they're away. He tries to manipulate that into me not letting them go for longer than 4 days, when the reality is he doesn't want a long visit. He's reluctant to arrange phone calls, in fast, it's in the order that they are to phone me daily and I've never recieved a call. I don't particularly care for a 2 or 3 day visit, as the kids don't seem to need to call me, but I don't think it's unreasonalbe to want to touch base 2 or 3 times if they are gone 2 weeks.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-24-2014, 06:24 PM
 
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Very sorry to hear you are going through this Mummoth. I know several mothers including myself for whom just getting through it was the best we could do. There was no resolution, and if I was in the situation all over again I still don't think I would have any better options than I did. I wish things were different because no one really benefits from situations like this. From what I've learned about these types of power situations, the truly powerless person is the one who manipulates, misdirects, and provokes the truly creative person; all the weaker person can bring to the situation is to hijack the other person's energy and draw a false sense of power by manipulating the other. They don't have any creative energy of their own. It's a very empty and entirely reactive position, a very weak position. Their goal is to deflect others from recognizing this in order to protect their damaged egos and continue to provoke their target into providing them with material to "spin" to meet their ends. So the less emotional discharge you present to the father to use, the better for you and your children. I hope that he is able to love his children and make a positive contribution in their lives at some point. I wish that there were fewer stories like this but unfortunately it's too common
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#9 of 11 Old 06-24-2014, 08:24 PM
 
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My mediated divorce agreement gives a date by which we must come to an agreement. If we don't agree, there is a fallback week listed.

For the first five years after the divorce, ex conveniently forgot to get with me to plan anything until like a week or two before school started so when he finally did ask, the fallback date had passed and I was off the hook and could tell him to go screw.

Unfortunately, this year he remembered and ds had to go for a week. It could have been worse.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-24-2014, 08:54 PM
 
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Yeah, I think you nailed it... the material he needs from me to 'spin is anything that supports the sob story he tells himself and his girlfriend that I don't let him see the kids. He doesn't get much emotion out of me at this point. I've got sole custody and guardianship, he only gets access, so I try and stick to only talking about pick-up and drop-off times.

Even then, he tries... once he emailed to say he'd be an hour late and told (not asked) me to feed the kids supper. When I told the kids the new pick-up time and asked what they wanted to eat, they were upset that they wouldn't get restaurant food with him. I told them that's fine, I'll email and tell him that doesn't work for me, just get a snack because supper will be late. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. When the kids got home after the weekend, my son was falling over laughing about his dad saying "I'm really disappointed that your mother wouldn't even feed you supper, awww, *I* can't stand to see you starve, *I'll* get you something to eat." He didn't convince them that I'm negligent, they knew he was trying to make me look bad. When he's the only person he's bothering, it's actually kind of funny.

~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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#11 of 11 Old 06-25-2014, 04:50 AM
 
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Kids can usually figure out what is going on as long as both parents aren't contributing to the trouble. I used to get very upset or try to demand cooperation which made me look and sometimes behave badly. When I stopped doing that it was harder for my ex to spin the situation to his benefit and his behavior had to stand on its own merit (and mine as well). It also lowered the stress level somewhat for my child and me. It sounds like you are using a fair and kind approach that is working as well for your situation as may be expected.
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