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My letter to my attorney re: changing dates last minute.

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ruinedandbroken posted 5/19/2013 10:35 AM

Dear attorney,

My ex-husband has paid up to date with his child support and has said he will continue regular payments from here on in. Could you tell me what would be involved in changing the way I receive support? Is it possible for me to get paid through the state therefore eliminating having to communicate with him about this matter again if it happened again in the future? Is this a matter of a court date or just paperwork filled out through child support enforcement?

More importantly, a situation has occurred in regard to parental responsibility that I would appreciate your help with.

As per our divorce decree, he is supposed to have the children ever other weekend starting on Friday afternoons and commencing on Monday mornings. We also have first right of refusal written into the documents as well. Over a year ago he asked me to be responsible for them on his Friday evenings so that he could work his job at night. I agreed and have been doing this since then and he has been picking them up on Saturday mornings from my house. There hasn't been any issues with this. Last week I received a text from him at 11:30 the Thursday night before telling me that he will be picking them up on Friday from school because he didn't have to work. I told him that this was not enough notice for me and that I already had plans with the boys. Also, this was not enough time for me to call their babysitter and cancel her services as she picks them up from school everyday. He did not argue and picked them up Saturday morning as usual.

Saturday morning, soon after he picked them up, I received a text from him expressing his anger and I was accused of denying him his time with his children. He said he thought that I had big plans with the children when in reality, all we did was watch a movie at home. Yes, we watched a movie at home because this is something I had planned and promised to the children. What might not seem like big plans to him were, in fact, big plans to them. And, I don't believe that he has the right to decide what the value of our plans are. I was not trying to deny him his time with the children, however, I do not think it is fair to give me 15 hours notice before they are to be picked up from school. It puts me in a position where I can never make plans with the children for fear of disappointing them because they can be cancelled at anytime without notice. He did not agree and remained angry and threatened to fight for more custody and said he would deny me first right of refusal. This is also not the first time I have received the brunt of his anger when I don't do something that he feels I should be doing to fit his definition of fairness, and quite frankly, I am tired of it.

All of this being said, I understand that these Fridays are part of his time with the children and I want to be 100% certain that I am following the law as I am expected to and doing what is in the best interest of the children. Please advise on how this should be handled in the future if it should come up again. If I am required to change plans without notice then I will do it without argument. If that is not the case, please let me know what the courts require in this type of situation so that I will know that as well. I want this to be clear, and in writing, so that this is not a discussion we need to have again. Also, please advise on what is a reasonable amount of notice he is required to give on when he wants to see them for uninterrupted time during the summer or any other unspecified days as last year there was only a few days notice given for this as well.

Lastly, there have also been disagreements on where to exchange the children. On the day of mediation I thought I was told that drop/offs pick/ups would be at my house since that is where they had always been done. (Most drop/offs and pick/ups are at school though although there are some outside of those parameters.) There have been argument between us about this and when I reviewed the court documents I did not see this issue addressed in there at all. So now I am wondering if I imagined hearing that or if I misunderstood because I was in such a distressed emotional state at the time. How is this handled when it is not addressed in the documents?

Again, thank you for your time, and please let me know if I owe you.


ruinedandbroken posted 5/19/2013 16:22 PM

Any thoughts? Advice? Should I forward attorney's responses to him when she responds?

ButterflyGirl posted 5/19/2013 17:37 PM

From what my attorney said, your "plans" that you had should not just be hanging out at the house, etc. I understand this was probably important to you and your children, but it probably should have been more important to refuse him the day. Really your plan of having a babysitter was more important than the movie, so I think you were correct in how you handled it..

I think the reasonable amount of notice is 48 hours (though I've heard 24 hours as well). That's what I make him stick to, and I have refused him when it has been less than that.

I do copy in my lawyer on emails with STBX, but I don't recommend copying him in on your emails with your lawyer.. I think better would be your lawyer contacting his lawyer so that his lawyer can let him know.. For some reason these dirtbags don't respect us or our lawyers, so I think the important information he needs to follow should come out of his lawyer's mouth..

And this is why I'm trying so hard to get EVERYTHING in black and white. I can't stand arguing with him as he is so freakin unreasonable all the time, so it's much easier to point at the documents and tell him to shove it..

He did not agree and remained angry and threatened to fight for more custody and said he would deny me first right of refusal.

I would just ignore that crap.. I would respond to specific days and times and try to be reasonable about it, but I would ignore those kind of threats and see if he puts his money where his mouth is.. I get the feeling he is just trying to threaten you into doing what he wants, so going to your attorney was the right thing to do.. When they get that ridiculous, sometimes it's better to just let his attorney communicate with him..

Good luck!

phmh posted 5/19/2013 18:35 PM

It's a good letter, but way too many extraneous details and too long. Remember that you pay by the hour so you want to be succinct and clear! As much as possible, cut out the fluff and use bullet points/numbers so you are very clear what you want. For example, going on about what your plans were and why it was important to the kids -- not relevant. (But good to get out here!)

For example:

Dear attorney,

1. Although XWH is finally paid up on child support, I'd like to pursue garnishment. Could you please let me know what the process involves?

2. As you know, our divorce decree states that he has the children Friday afternoons through Monday morning (FYI: "commence" means "begin") with right of first refusal. Over a year ago, he asked me to have them Friday evenings due to his job, and he's been picking them up Saturday mornings.
a. On Thursday May 9, he sent me a text at 11:30 pm stating that he would pick the kids up from school the next day. I told him this wasn't enough notice, and he agreed, picking them up Saturday morning as usual.
b. Saturday afternoon, changing his tune, he sent me a text stating that I was denying him his time with his children (I can show this text to you if needed.)
c. Can you please tell me how I should deal with this in the future? What amount of notice, if any, is reasonable? On a similar note, how much notice does he have to give me for his two weeks of uninterrupted summer vacation?

3. Finally, there have been disagreements on where to exchange the children. On the day of mediation I thought I was told that drop/offs pick/ups would be at school or at my house. I reviewed the court documents and I did not see this issue addressed in there at all. Could you please tell me how to handle this?

Thanks for your help!


ruinedandbroken posted 5/19/2013 19:37 PM

Ok. Advice taken. The email is already sent though as wordy as it is so there isn't anything I can do about it now.

He doesn't have an attorney anymore so going through his attorney is not an option. I did not copy ex on this email but I may just cut and paste her answers to him so we don't have to have these conversations anymore. I want it in writing. 48 hours notice or whatever.

So sick of his crap.

debbysbaby posted 5/19/2013 20:32 PM

Unfortunately, even though he hasn't been utilizing the time, Friday nights are his, court ordered, so you cannot deny him. You can get in deep shit for that. Also unfortunately, you can't make him take his time. So, he can skip without penalty time after time and then decide out of the blue to exercise his right to have them on his days/nights and you must cough them up. Sucks, i know. It sounds like you do need more things spelled out in detail in your parenting plan. To save attorney fees, google parenting plans until you find ones that cover the issues you'd like covered. Take this info to your attorney and tell him you'd like to file to modify the parenting plan and have him guide you there.

ruinedandbroken posted 5/19/2013 20:55 PM

debbysbaby, I was not trying to deny him his time, but 15 hours notice is not fair to the kids or to me. Maybe you are right in that I have to change plans last minute but I am curious to see what my attorney says in this situation.

SeanFLA posted 5/20/2013 16:25 PM

OR...say nothing and don't reply. Seriously what is he going to do? If he gets another attorney so be it. Sometimes silence speaks the loudest. You're a good caring mother. He should be happy about that. Unfortunately all this written stuff in divorce decrees just doesn't always jive with real world life as things change. You didn't know he was going to get fired when you all signed this decree. Circumstances do change. It's just too bad it's at the sacrifice of the kids many times. I know I try very hard not to fight exWW on this stuff. To me it's just not worth it. I don't want to fight with her. I've had enough of that. And I've had enough of my cash laid out to my attorney. Remember that one day you too will probably call on him to help you out at some point.

Sometimes it's better just to be happy, then to be right. Sigh...

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