Custody agreement details - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 10-19-2005, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello mamas! I have been a member here for quite a while and have requested use of the guest account access to discuss this issue without having to worry about my ex discovering my online identidy and reading this.

Anyhow, a little background. I have a preteen daughter. When her fahter and I got divorced I was deployed in the service and not able to retain custody of her. Ove r ayear ago I brought a custody case against my ex for a number of issues that I felt seriously needed attention. Since I have brought the case ex has made a significant improvement. Dd enjoys her time that she is here with me and her step family but she has been with her father for as long as she remembers. She wants to stay with her father, where all of her friends are. This is upsetting but I completely understand and only wish for dd to be happy and well cared for. My lawyer is drafting a settlement agreement right now. The custody arrangement in the divorce decree is not good, with lots of gray areas. It was also established before dd was in school so some of the visits that are arranged would involve removing her from school, which is not good.

The reason I am posting for advice is that I wanted to give a list of things that will be covered under the new custody agreement and see if there is anything that I have missed. What we are asking for is:

Meet me halfway for pick ups and drop offs. We live several hours apart.
Reset child support payment.
Joint custody with dd residing with ex.
Visitation for one weekend every other month and during spring break, fall break, 1 week of winter break (alternating Christmas) and 8 weeks each summer.
Ex will provide access to school reports and calenders.
Ex will notify me of any major medical event involving dd.
Alternate tax credit.
Dd will not refer to any person other than ex or I as mother or father

Is there anything else that should be included? I realize that some people may not think that settling is the right thing to do but this is what my daughter wants and I feel she is old enough to make the decision. I do not wish to provide any specific details as to why I brought the case for obvious reasons.

This is one of our "Guest Mama" accounts. If you have an issue and need to post anonymously please contact abimommy or AdinaL and they can assist you.
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#2 of 4 Old 10-19-2005, 07:15 PM
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A few ideas

- do you want contact info for school, health care providers and the ability to contact them and review files, etc

- access on mother's day/father's day if dd is with the other parent

- do you want anything about school events, special events, e.g. will attend alternating ones, will both have the right to attend, etc.

- do you want joint decision-making on some issues? in some places, you would in theory already have this with joint custody, but it's probably better to spell out what they are - school choice, religion, etc. What if you guys disagree - mediate?

- what about travel, notification/permission if you're travelling outside a certain area with her; passports, etc.

- phone contact - do you need set times, a minimum amount, etc. Since your daughter won't be with you much in the schoolyear, you may want some specifics, eg. he'll have her available to talk at least X # of times/month

- what about if one of you wants to move away

I don't know about the clause about what dd will refer to other people as - I mean, she's not signing the agreement is she, and I don't think it's fair to say what she can or cannot choose to call others. On the other hand, clauses about you guys as parents not asking her to use those words for other people seem a little fairer, if that's a big deal, or maybe about not introducing new SO's until you've been dating for X amount of time, whatever. I've heard of those before.

- anything about what kind of communication you want with the ex? e.g. regular phone calls to discuss issues, notebook going back and forth, etc.

Totally a random list, and may not be what you're looking for, but who knows?

Good luck.
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#3 of 4 Old 10-20-2005, 10:20 AM
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As your daughter is in mainstream schooling, I do not see any way that the clause regarding who she calls mother and father is relevant. Within six months of my youngest being in school (he was only a year old when his dad and I split up) he was calling his stepfather dad, because he so badly wanted to have someone to talk about when school talks about fathers- and it took a while before we picked up on it because school hadn't realised this wasn't normal for him. Unfortunately, your ex is not the only influence in this area.
As far as meeting half-way goes- I have a big problem with this. I'd suggest that if you ask for this, your child support payments should be generous enough that it isn't a choice between your daughter travelling half-way to see you and the whole family eating that month. Again, this is the problem we had- but if your ex is not on a low income, it's less of a concern. (The situation- I was left in 13,000 pounds worth of debt, with no maintenance or CSA AND he wanted me to transport the children to him. It wasn't possible at the time.)
I'd define major medical event, and specify whether you want to be involved in discussions about treatment for long-term conditions- eg asthma, eczema.
I'd ask for arrangements to be made so that the school sends a copy of school reports, etc. directly to you, and specify that you wish to play a part in deciding which schools, etc, your daughter attends. This is going to require a time commitment on your part. I'd also specify that you must be listed as the second next-of-kin on all your daughter's school paperwork, though you're too far away to help in an emergency- it will stop the school dismissing you.
The Christmas thing- alternating Christmas has never worked for us. When the boys weren't with us for Christmas, they got bigger presents on their birthday, a single present at Yule and we partied at Hogmanay. When they weren't with their dad, Santa Claus visited his house twice in one year- which just seems childish to me. I'd seriously consider having another holiday in the year as being your extra-special family time with your daughter- basically, you need to do some soul-searching on this one, it's not as straightforward as it seems.
In addition to phone contact, I'd ask that your ex sets up an email account for your daughter. By writing and emailing, you can help her with literacy- plus children love letters
As the pp said, I'd establish now that your dd should have a passport, but that she should not go outside the country without your permission.

Other than that, it all looks pretty good.

Helen mum to five and mistress of mess and mayhem, making merry and mischief til the sun goes down.
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#4 of 4 Old 10-20-2005, 12:45 PM
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I am in pretty much the same situation with my oldest and the most important thing I would say is make sure everything is spelled out explicitly, very very important.

Like Flapjack, I am not sure about the clauses about who she calls Mom/Dad. My boy is 13 and his dad is getting remarried to a woman with 4 kids, well my boy has assured me he has no desire to call Dad's partner Mom but in a living situation there are times when she is referred to as his Mom and her kids are referred to as his siblings. Yeah it annoys me but I know I am his Ma, and so does he. Its just that in a school situation it happens.

Also with my son even though we have joint legal custody with residency w/his Dad, it works out that I am responsible for traveling time and costs. Which I admit can suck as far as cost,not sure where you are but it seems in my expereince that the courts figure parent who doesn't have child day to day can cover these costs and time. Now if your ex is willing to agree to shared responsibility as far as travel that's great but it can be hard to get.

With regards to Christmas, what my ex & I do is alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year I had T-day, ex had X-mas, this year its reversed. Its good because we both get a day out of the holiday season, so it's as fair as we can get.

I am typing with babe in arms so excuse sloppiness. I have been in this situation for sometime now and while I have made peace with it, some days are still rough especially when I am meeting new folks and have to explain. Sounds like though you are doing what's best for your child and that's the key thing.


Mothering since 1992...its one of the many hats I wear.
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