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Author Topic: Appropriate and healthy long distance visitation schedule for our 2 year old son  (Read 5774 times)

Iwant1c5z

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My soon to be ex wife lives with our 2 year old son in California, I currently live in Texas but may be moving to Idaho shortly. We attempted to come to an agreement in the beginning, then failed and went to attorneys for help and are back at attempting to come to a healthy visitation schedule.

Neither of us are made of money unfortunately so frequent, short visits would be extremely taxing on us. I have come up with a rough draft that modifies the long distance court schedule but am not sure if she will agree to it or even take a second look at it. I came here hoping for better ideas in order for us to make this work.

I understand that children are able to adapt and overcome many more obstacles than we generally give them credit for at such a young age, I'm also aware (due to recent research) that removing a child from his primary care giver (mom) can create physical and psychological trauma for our son. A progressive visitation would be best for his needs, I believe, and to ensure he neither feels abandoned nor kidnapped. Now the hard part...how to come up with a schedule that will be agreed to by both parents and most importantly will benefit our son.


ocean

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What are you doing now? What is ordered? and what are you proposing?

He can have contact with you through court ordered video chat through computer or cell phone at least once a week or more. Even if it is a quick "hi" or "good night". If other parent agrees can have picture of you so he can see it daily or a small book that says who everyone is on both sides and family pets and both of you read it to him.

If he "Sees" you then he will be fine on visits. Kids are resilient and adjust pretty quickly. Distance and expense will be hardest obstacle but with internet and mail you can be apart of his life too.

And you are right, if you can agree by yourselves and save lawyer money that would be great but sometimes you need that first set up paperwork to protect yourself. 

Iwant1c5z

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Well we separated November of 2013, this whole last year has been a battle of attorneys and states battling jurisdictions etc etc. We have no court orders and we have no temporary orders. It's all a mess and I am well aware of how unstable of a mess it is.

Tension and anger was high throughout 2014 between the two of us. We have leaned on our attorneys and mediators but for one thing or another it just hasn't played out or gotten to court for the divorce to get completed and visitation orders to get determined. It was random visitations along with skype calls twice a week and a phone call once a week. I have never been a fan of having a court determine how the rest of our lives should be handled and I believe she agrees with me there.

After they left I went for a week long visit in January '14 for his birthday and stayed with both of them during that visit. In April we split costs for them to fly here and visit me for a week and they stayed with me. Throughout the summer a lot of tug of war was happening and I wasn't allowed to visit until September of '14 where I stayed for a week at my father in laws house while picking my son up each morning from her apartment and dropping him back off(she hasn't wanted me to keep him overnight, I've only dealt with it in order to get to see son) each evening by 5:30pm. Mom and I had another falling out while I was there and the next time I've been allowed to visit was his birthday(she gave me an ultimatum of christmas or his birthday not both) this year in January. I again picked him up each morning from her apartment and dropped him off each evening this time at 6pm I believe it was. We also napped together every day while I visited him and he cuddles up to me and there are no issues with getting him to go to sleep, so I imagine he wouldn't have much of an issue once staying overnights with me??

We have since dropped down to one Skype call a week for 30 minutes, I bought him a book while visiting recently and bought a duplicate for me to have so I can read it to him over skype which he gets a real kick out of, on Sundays and one 15 minute phone call Wednesdays (obviously Skype calls are much better, preferred, and allow for a better connection and understanding and it is quite interesting to keep and maintain the interest of a 2 year old boy on the phone when he can't see me for 15 minutes).

In the beginning when mom and I were still getting along sending a selfie to her for his sake was great and she would try to capture his reaction and that was great for him as well as reassuring me that he didn't forget me but that no longer happens unfortunately. We have been able to maintain our strong bond through all of the virtual chats and phone calls so much so that when I go to pick him up, even after long times being away, he smiles real big and comes running. Huge relief!


So far...

     Seeing as how we are such a long distance away from each other, I believe we will both agree that longer visitation while less frequent, will be the obvious choice here. It will be cheaper for both of us on transportation costs(split 50/50), as well as not effect our work schedules as much as the more frequent visits are bound to.

Standard long distance visitation includes: Approximately 11 round trip flights per year. (73'ish days a year approximately)
-one weekend a month
-a week for spring break every year
-42 days of summer vacation
-Father's Day weekend if he is not already with me
-6 days with me for Thanksgiving on odd numbered years
-Christmas odd # years=Dec 26th from noon until 6pm day before school resumes
even # years=6pm on the day school is dismissed until noon Dec 26th
-Birthday from 6pm until 8pm (Obviously I would attempt to use my one weekend a month visit near his birthday
to omit this 2 hour visit)

What I am asking for prior to him starting school:6 round trips flights per year(69 days a year that allows greater flexibility for both of us)
-One week(7days) long visit every other month, last 7 days of each of these months (January/March/May/July/September/November)
-Open to a progressive visit starting out which includes me staying in California the first week long visit that I have him 24/7 (in order to be nearby mom incase he gets fussy and needs mom, if it goes well then the next visit I would like to have him at my residence, if it goes poorly then I am open to further visits in San Diego until he can relax and enjoy his time with me, least amount of trauma on our son as possible) so long as it is not during my Summer visit with him as that would include an extra round trip flight.
-35 days of the Summer from June 15th thru July 19th (Which would then cancel my week of having him the last week of July, I would next have him the last week of September, also puts him with mom for Mother's Day and with dad for Father's day)
-Open to a Skype call to mom once each week that he is with me visiting(12 per year, 7 of these during summer vacation). If you'd prefer more then I would also ask to receive more Skype calls with him each week.

That's it so far.

That is based off of Texas' long distance court ordered visitation schedules. I have tried to find California's, where the case will most likely be heard it seems, but have been unable to as of yet. I believe I'm mistaken on the 42 days being standard for Texas, somebody here can probably help me.

I have that labeled as "prior to him starting school" but that can be changed as I don't quite know where to go with it once he starts school. I am completely flexible and open to whatever might work and or would be best for our son, any help or ideas or corrections are wanted and appreciated!!

ocean

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1. Change it to starting Kindergarten (not school as she will use pre-school or daycare as school).
2. Holidays in your version? your birthday? Father's day?
3. Put dates for the months you are asking- exact dates and then a provision , parents can agree to change for cheaper flights, if no agreement, then goes back to dates.
4. Careful how you word if child does not do well, who determines that?

Ask your lawyer to:
1. Ask for trial, no more hearings or mediation, you want to be in front of judge to make a ruling.
2. Ask lawyer to send her lawyer a request of when the next time you can see son in her state with no limitations. Give some dates you are available and that you will be having child overnight as last time it went well until 5:30.
3. If her lawyer does not respond, ask lawyer how to get temp visitation orders.

What is her options to you so far? You can send her that (with the above changes) and then ask her to tweek it and send it back to you by xx date as you want this finished or you will ask for a trial date to be set up. My guess is she is not going to agree to any of that since it is out of state and overnight. She is putting this off as long as she can to so he does not come to your house. Need to start pushing lawyer and her to see if an agreement can be given to judge or else you want a trial set.

MixedBag

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my middle daughter was one when we split, older one 4....

Skyping and electronic media - yep, we're talking back in the dark ages, so none of that was mentioned.

BUT

half of the summer....say half and say which half (first or last), and what day that should start -- First Saturday after school dismisses.  Half also means 6 weeks in some school calendars and 5 weeks in others.....etc....

One week to include Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Easter/Spring break.  Not all school system use Easter in conjunction with Spring Break.

Until age 5 -- child will have to fly accompanied by airline.

After 5 -- until I think 12 -- non-stop and you'll pay an unaccompanied minor fee.

In mine (1996), there was a clause that said I got one weekend a month giving EX two weeks notice.  Took a while, but I finally figured out how to afford that.

As child gets older - why couldn't the child come/go see you over a weekend particularly if the school has a 3-day weekend.....mine did and LOVED it.

And get enrolled into an airline mileage credit card program to earn free flights.....pay the card off each month (because I don't believe in debt), but if it pays for ONE free trip each year, that helps.

My first divorce -- we were both military so all of it was long distance.

My second divorce -- I was still military and had to move (750 miles away).

My EX#3's divorce was also long distance.  He got 8 weeks over the summer...when she well, she was never cooperative.

Holidays are tricky -- like Halloween, Mother's Day, ..... take a look at the parenting plans here to give you ideas of what needs to be included.  None of them are for long distances, but you get the idea as to the detail it needs and stuff that needs to be spelled out.


Iwant1c5z

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What is her options to you so far?

This is what she's sent her "mediator" to put in the msa for her:

No over nights until he's 3.
Son is not to leave her county of residence without her permission.
No travel away from home until he's 5.
He's to be returned to her by 6pm on days that I'm there visiting before he turns 3.
I (me) pay for all travel.
Child support needs to be reassessed.
Atleast a 3 week notice before visit.
Split costs of activities for son.
Holidays will be in California until son is 5 and then it alternates.
Birthdays will be where son lives since he'll be in school (or wherever she decides to move to).

Word for word what she text me. Obviously that's not quite the agreeable attitude, that I understand haha. This was a few months ago when we were battling pretty hard. Fast forward a few months and she is engaged to be married, and due to have this guys baby end of May. I was in the Marine Corps and this guy is in the Navy and he's deploying this summer...so she is desperate to get a divorce and settle all of this before the new baby is born and before her fiancee deploys that way they can get married and get base housing. (Basically all military members, once married, get to decide whether they want a house on base or an approved neighborhood for free only paying utilities, or they get paid a particular amount of money to live in a normal house or apartment.) She wants to get in base housing but that can only happen after they get married.

I have been nothing but flexible throughout this whole ordeal and I think a judge would see that (I hope), I've given up a lot of things for our son and she hasn't been willing to negotiate or meet me in the middle or even be flexible in the slightest. Now that she has a bit of pressure on her I hope she will be willing to negotiate with me in terms that are similar to the courts long distance standard (even giving up a few days though having longer and more ideal visits). I have no confidence or faith in the mediator she is using, he's been nothing but disrespectful thus far and has basically only repeated what she wants vs finding a happy medium between the both of us for the sake of our son.

Little bit of back story: The case is currently a Texas case, but due to the amount of time he has lived in California and the amount of foot dragging that has taken place she has hired an attorney in Texas to get it transferred to California. That April visit that they made here, she signed my paperwork at my attorneys office that way we didn't have to get her served, and then later filed a new case in California even though the Texas case was open and under way, due to her mediators advice. She'll openly admit this. They mailed me this paperwork to Alaska where I was at temporarily for work, since you can't have two cases for the exact same divorce open in two different states I didn't officially respond to said paperwork. They can't even prove that I received it as I was sharing a mailbox with a buddy of mine who signed for it. She has mentioned that she could get a default ruling in that case, though I am unsure how if the whole filing of her divorce case in California is based off of an improper filing.

It's a hell of a mess, are there every any clean divorces?  :o

I assume, assumptions kill as we say in the Corps, that since us coming to an agreement would fast track this whole case(which we both want to have happen) she would be more willing to accept an offer of mine that was very similar to what the courts will most likely issue.


ocean

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Very far apart unless she really does want to get married fast.
Send her an email/text:
Ex,
I understand you want to move the divorce forward quickly and all I want is to be apart of xx life. I will not settle unless xx is allowed overnights on my next visit and then time at my house after that. XX loves being with both of us and does not have any issues taking naps and being with me on the last visit.
Next visit : (dates/times) XX will spend the week with father in xx state for first visit. Mom will have one skype call mid week.
After: List exact dates each month, List Holidays exact dates (THanksgiving-odd years from the day child gets out of school and last the whole school vacation).

Travel- Split (or if you pay -can maybe reduce child support but has to be worded strongly so she can no up child support in a year). We both moved and you probably will be moving with xx being military. The courts would split costs but willing to buy tickets if child support is readjusted. Also, child will not be allowed out of country without both parents agreement. (since he is military).

Child support- No issue going by the numbers which the courts have already established (did they? There are child support calculators online to see if you are paying near the right amount. Is child support court ordered? If not, be careful what you give her, it may be considered a gift).

I hope we can come to an agreement soon. If not, I will be asking the Tx court to move forward to set a trial with a judge. CA does not have jurisdiction and my lawyer will be sending a letter to CA to drop that case. (pay a lawyer one time to write a letter and send it to the judge in that case, is there any open court dates for that case? YOu can not ignore that, she may be able to get a ruling) Please let me know by xx your counter proposal (add a few things in your list so you can negotiate later-his birthday can be a weekend visit before or after when school starts).

Judge is not going to "see" really anything you did. Going to want to see that you have been seeing child (so make that work for now on her terms) and then the judge will set the schedule, usually the standard one if you do not agree. Depending on judge, may rule more for mom since the age but then push for the progressive schedule NOW in first set of papers. Since she is the one that needs the divorce quickly, you have a little room to negotiate. You can drag this out past summer so if you do not like her proposal then do not agree. THe fist set of paperwork is VERY important. It guides judges decisions for rest of the 18 years! Do not fall into "oh we can come back when child is 5 and redo it". Yes you can but it will be set off these first set of papers and adding things is very hard. Think of everything now and put it in.




MixedBag

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Ocean gives good advice.....BUT I wouldn't lay out any sentence that is an ultimatum.

"I will not settle unless xx is allowed overnights on my next visit " -- that's the specific part that hit me wrong.

You don't want to back yourself into a corner like that where you might not follow through.

"It is in our child's best interest to spend nights with both parents so that our child can learn"

Focus your letters and words to her on what's best for the child....



 

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