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confused girl posted 5/28/2013 18:11 PM

My daughter is getting divorced. Things had been fairly amicable until today when he told her he is going to fight for joint custody. The judge in our jurisdiction likes to grant joint custody with the kids at one parent for a week and then the other parent for a week.

My SIL is an absolute deadbeat. He hasn't contributed to financially to the family for almost a year and he is very proud that he has to pay DD the minimum amount of child support allowed by our state law. Until two months ago when she told him she was going to file, he didn't have any interaction with the two kids. He has stepped it up since that time.

As much as I despise him and his deadbeat ways, I know he will get joint custody with the week/week thing. As I look at kids in our community that do that, it is really hard on them. I even think two weeks at a time might be better than one week at a time.

I am interested in what type of custody arrangement you have. Maybe there are some other options out there that they might be able to agree upon.

Ashland13 posted 5/28/2013 18:20 PM

Hi Confused Girl,

I am sorting through the divorce decree currently and have arrived at the section regarding children. Does't answer your question right away, but the lingo is confusing for me because STBXH speaks (electronically only) of my having sole custody, but on the decree it states "joint".

I suspect one of two things: either he is lying to me and trying to pull yet another fast one, or it's simply a boiler plate document that no one worked really hard on.

So anyway...

We are trying to convert to the "every other weekend" scenario, which apparently is common in our state, or what the lawyers are saying is common. Then STBXH gets a day a week (I notice the neighbors get two with their EX/dad) and supposedly two weeks straight in summer.

I haven't heard of the every other week scenario and what comes to mind is wondering how it will be for kids, even if they like sleep overs and changing schedules all the time.

One thing for me as an issue would be that rules and "obligations" a kid has are different at each place they go and I know they can adapt, but it seems confusing-but so do the weekend visits. At least in that regard, it keeps where they sleep for school the same, but a week at a time at least gives some sense of routine.

I understand what you mean about the two week idea, as it would give more of a routine.

I am sorry for your daughter's difficult time.

For what it's worth, it's been similar with "us", where STBXH is amicable about some things but children and house are not so much. He will say that he is, but also has a really bully-ish way about him.

I hope things go okay and get smoothed out eventually. It's a scary, long and winding road.

roughroadahead posted 5/28/2013 18:30 PM

Bear in mind, there are two different types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody means both parents have access to school and health records, can get information from doctors/schools, and have a right to be included in decisions related to the child's health, education and anything else important. In my state, it is rare for a divorced parent to be granted sole legal custody, but common for an unmarried mother, even when a father is named.

Physical custody is where the child lives. In my state, joint physical custody is pretty uncommon. The standard schedule set forth by the domestic relations court is the every other weekend (plus Wednesday evening) special. It seems most people stick to that, although they are free to agree to whatever schedule they like. The parent that has physical custody of the kids during the week is the primary residential parent, even though the non residential ex-spouse retains joint legal custody.

I have never understood how alternating weeks is in the best interests of the children. If he is a deadbeat, do you think there is a chance he will tire of this arrangement? Courts often don't act in anticipation of problems. Something needs to happen. So, if he is awarded the nightmarish alternate week arrangement, as soon as he starts missing visits, she should keep careful records. After a pattern is established, she may be able to go back to court to have the schedule modified. The best person to speak to about that is her lawyer.

confused girl posted 5/28/2013 18:37 PM

Ashland, thank you. I think one or two nights during the week would be tough. The week/week thing is certainly better than that.

RRA, I don't know what is normal in our state, but I do know that anyone that goes before this particular judge will receive the week/week custody. That is just what he likes and thinks is fair. Yes, I think he will tire of it because it will interfere with his driving around town, trying to act important and busy.

Ashland13 posted 5/28/2013 19:48 PM

Yes, we've already had promises broken regarding visits. Sometimes I've faced bullying from Perv because he's screwed up his calendar or purposely put something he "cannot cancel" on his weekend.

I am always willing to share my time, if it is in DD's best interest and I don't think of myself or plan for myself when it's my turn.

But I've also noticed some other Ex's who've cheated do this.

In another thread a week or two ago, I complained that Perv is complaining about the money for driving to visit DD and that broke my heart for her. He reminded me that his lawyer said it and not him and tried to say it was because expenses are high for him, but wasn't that his choice?

I was happier with the every weekend visits for DD because she could make a real pattern for her own mind and I see and hear her get very confused now. And as I said, he is not doing the rule that he himself wanted, so this is even more difficult for her.

The kids I know and I myself are all about making patterns in life and part of my anxt and anger at him is that he is not thinking of this for DD, rather, he is thinking of what's best for him-though if you mention this to him, you would get anger and surprise.

Thank you for explaining the custody terms. I've seen on the papers lately and been waiting for L to explain them.

One thing that Perv would do that was an anger trigger when he first abandoned us, was go through the school to get to DD and not me. He would go there and visit her and I would not be notified until I heard it from her. Do you know, that it was also my place of employment? The principal and secretary never told me he was doing that. I heard it, as I said, from DD and I actually got complaints from friends or other parents who got really annoyed because of some things about it, and I wouldn't even know he had been there.

I wanted to work that into one of the child care clauses, as it really did cause chaos and mistrust...more.

Another question regarding kids I've been working on is regarding the horrible things that OW did with DDs pictures. I had hoped there will be a way to be certain that she can't use pictures from our family or DD...or the baby -to -be again. Likewise, I wanted to say something about the giving of information about children and OW or future Ow, if that makes any sense?

It was such a violation of security and soooo bizarre and there was absolutely no permission for it.

Has anyone heard of this being done in a D decree?

Thank you.

Dreamboat posted 5/28/2013 21:55 PM

(((hugs))) to your DD

Given the reputation of the judge, it would be in your DD's best interest to negotiate something other than 50/50 week on/week off. Judges rarely change a negotiated settlement unless there is something WAY off with it.

Also, the fact that he is a deadbead has no bearing on custody/visitation. In fact, the courts frown upon anyone who tries to mix them (as in "he/she does not pay so he/she does not deserve visitation" or "I pay so I deserve more visitation"). These are separate issues as far as the court is concerned so your DD needs to keep that in mind always when working with the court.

Does your DD have a L? If not, she needs to get one NOW. Even if she thinks she cannot afford it, the reality is that she cannot afford NOT to have a L when she is dealing with a jerk like her stbx. She needs someone to guide her thru the legal hurdles and defend her from his bullying.

I have seen week on/week off visitation work. The key is that the kids are able to feel "at home" at both homes and the the parents live close enough together so that transportation to school is never an issue and it is easy to get something from he other house if the kids forget something. What I am saying is that is can work but that does not mean that it will work. It takes a lot of organization and cooperation.

Another option to week on/week off is 3/4/4/3 schedule. That way the kids and a given parent are not separated for too many days. But it is a lot of transition. It works for some kids, but is hard for kids who have trouble with transition. Another option that is not 50/50 but still gives the non-custodial a good amount of time is that the children consistently stay with one parent Monday after school until Wed or Thursday. Then the non-custodial had the children wed or Thurs after school - Monday morning, every other weekend. That gives the children a more stable environment but also allows the non-custodial to have a lot of time and thus really be a parent. Plus it gives the custodial parent a break every other weekend.

Good luck to your DD

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