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Author Topic: What is reasonable and liberal?  (Read 3009 times)

Orienteer

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What is reasonable and liberal?
« on: Jan 29, 2007, 07:02:54 AM »
I am a recently divorced man with two sons in elementary school and two high-school aged daughters.  BM has RC of all four.  

Our situation is as complex as most divorces, and I can't hope to provide all the details here.  The issue at present is that during a mediated separation, I consented to BM's plan to move from PA to MD and obtained "Reasonable and Liberal" parenting time in the separation agreement in exchange.  That agreement was then incorporated verbatim into the final judgment of divorce.  

I also elected informally to cede holidays to her.  Holidays are a matter of personal indifference to me, so I am happy to visit with my children during other times.

In general, I would like to build my time with the children around weekend visits (logistically and financially, I can manage to get down to MD once or twice per month for a weekend), and then bring them up to PA to visit with me at least a few times per year (a week or two in the summer, and an occasional weekend).  

There are basically three salient problems at this point.  

1) BM will not help to schedule the time.  Activities at her church occupy the children's time every Sunday morning and evening, as well as many other Saturday and Sunday activities.  This is aggravated further since many of these are not scheduled far enough in advance to allow me to schedule around them.  Other sorts of events also pop up during my visits.  The basic message that she seems to send the children is "your father will be here to visit with you, unless you have anything else to do."

2) BM solicits information from the children about what they would like to do during my visit and attempts to impose those decisions on me by either telling me about them in front of the children, or building up the childrens' expectations in advance.  Thus, the visits are extensions of her aims, and leave me none of the latitude that R&L parenting time seems to afford -- we end up at the local Chuckie Cheese or a movie instead of the Smithsonian.

3) BM insists that she has a veto on my decisions about the use of time, and that "I can't take the children out of state without her permission."  I grant that I have a reasonable obligation to let her know what we are doing, especially in broad terms such as long distance travel, just as she does.  In a recent instance, I was going to go with my 16yr old daughter to a late movie with her boyfriend to a movie.  BM objected, called her on her cell phone and told her she was not to go to the movie and that BM would meet her at the theater to take her home.  

I am loathe to try to get a scheduled parenting time order, because, in principle, I think the R&L language has the best potential to support the way real schedules work.  

I'm not sure what might be the best course of action.  On thing that occurs to me is asking a court to interpret and somehow more clearly define what constitutes Reasonable and Liberal Parenting Time.  

The other would be to get some sort of scheduled parenting time order.  Perhaps, there is a hybrid of some sort that would work.  Something that would set some proportion of time to be spent with the children, and prioritizing that time.

Advice, comments and clarifying questions welcome.


mistoffolees

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RE: What is reasonable and liberal?
« Reply #1 on: Jan 29, 2007, 08:38:10 AM »
Unfortunately, I think you have it backwards. While in an ideal world 'reasonable and lberal' would be the best schedule, you need two cooperative parents to make it work. If your ex is unwilling to cooperate, you're going to need a well-defined schedule. If I were you, I'd ask the court to clarify.

You might also look into Parental Alienation since there appears to be a good bit of that going on.

Meanwhile, document all the times you try to see the kids (preferably with witnesses if you can manage it) because your ex will probably try to claim that you haven't seen them enough to deserve a great deal of time (the fact that she's the one who prevented you from seeing them will accidentally slip her mind).

Some of your questions can be addressed by the agreement. For example, if your agreement says that you can't take the kids out of state without permission, you're stuck (unless you get the court to change that). If it is silent on the issue, you're probably OK, particularly if you have joint legal custody, but I'd ask Socrateaser to be sure.

The one thing I've learned in this process is that you need to make sure the agreement is ironclad and then follow it to the letter (and make sure your ex does, too). Relying on goodwill just doesn't work in very many cases.

Good luck.

Orienteer

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RE: What is reasonable and liberal?
« Reply #2 on: Jan 29, 2007, 08:54:10 AM »
Thanks for that response.  For the record, I do have join legal custody, and my X has residential custody.  The agreement is entirely silent on the question of where parties reside and on the matter of travelling with the children.  All of that is somehow to be resolved under the principle of what is "reasonable," and I agree that there appears to be too little good will to make that work on its own.  I'll be seeing my attorney next week to discuss the issue and hope to have a general sense of the options before that.  

mistoffolees

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RE: What is reasonable and liberal?
« Reply #3 on: Jan 29, 2007, 10:13:26 AM »
If you have joint legal and the agrement doesn't restrict you, I can't see how you'd have any problem traveling out of state.

Of course, that leaves the other issues.

Ref

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DH had the same agreement
« Reply #4 on: Jan 30, 2007, 01:37:44 PM »
and after being bullied and pushed aside as a visitor for years, DH took BM to court and had everything spelled out.

If your situation is anything like DH's, he was being treated more like an uncle than a dad. He effectively had no say in SD's upbringing and visitation was more a matter of if the child wants to visit than about proper parenting time and parental involvement.

I agree that you should get your visitation modified. How you go about it is up to your situation and your lawyer's advice. You could ask her to mediation and offer her a parenting plan with dates and times spelled out and see if that come to anything. Depending on your relationship with your ex, this may be a waste of time and court may be your only option.

DH got a modified version of the standard in his county (modified for long distance visitation) but it spells out dates and times, who transports, who has rights to decision makeing... He went to court ordered mediation for this.

Some of the problems he came up against has nothing to do with parenting time. BM told SD(age 12) that DH was victimizing BM by taking her to court and he didn't respect SD's feelings over visitation. She would fight for SD's rights. Since then, SD thinks BM was victimized and DH was the abuser.Due to BM constantly telling Sd about her side of the case, SD had some real emotional issues. This is one other incentive to try to work it out outside of court and lawyers. It may not be possible in your case, but it is something to think about.

On the other side, DH now sees SD 90-100 days of the year instead of the 10-20 that BM "allowed" in the past. Atleast DH has some influence on her life and the ability to be a dad to her. SD has benefited tremendously from this.

Good Luck
Ref


dipper

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RE: What is reasonable and liberal?
« Reply #5 on: Jan 30, 2007, 02:34:56 PM »
Reasonable and liberal actually means nothing.  Being that one parent is not reasonable, it is always simply what that person wants the routine to be.  You need this spelled out specifically in the court papers.

I would not let her dictate what I do with my time.  For the example with your daughter, if this was on your time - I would not have let my daughter go with her.  She could have  caused a scene - carry your court order with you at all times.  This was none of her business, she is just bullying you through your children.

You may have to tell her you are taking the children out of state, but having joint legal, I cant say where you would need her approval.  

I really think you need to ask for a modification to the order, stating other parent is not being reasonable and not allowing sufficient visitation.  Decide what you want - and shoot higher.  That way, you will get somewhere in the ballpark of your wishes.  

Do not let this pattern persist.  A modification such as this can be asked for simply....document what has been going on and take it before the judge....Asking for an order for your rights is reasonable...

HelpingHands

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RE: DH had the same agreement
« Reply #6 on: Jan 30, 2007, 03:11:01 PM »
BioM did the same things in my case as well. Years worth of missed visitations due to mom's  interpretation of the orders and her attorney's ability to keep her out of hot water finally changed once I had submitted a very detailed visitation schedule to my attorney for a settlement offer. To keep mom out of contempt her attorney urged her to agree to it. It was a very fair (long distance involved) visitation schedule but it was just very specific.

Not a single item was missed in the visitation schedule/parenting plan. It spelled out where to pick child up, what time, what happened if she wasn't there, the time to exchange in the event she wasn't there..it was all in the order. Spelled out specific days and times to call and what happens if child is unavailable during those times(supposed to recieve a phone call back), it detailed notice of medical appointments, it detailed who has final say over disputes on medical procedures, etc. There was absolutely NO room for misinterpretation of anything in the order.  None.

It did mom in. Repeated violation of the order. She was finally held in contempt and custody was changed. The PAS was realized by the GAL in the case. She was intentionally frustrating the court ordered visitation schedule by not allowing phone calls, not allowing pick ups without police involvement, etc. basically anything and everything possible to prevent a father/daughter relationship. And it was all very precise in the order so BioM was not able to weasel her way out of what she had done and why. he order gave her every opportunity to make it right if she didn't adhere to the order.

As long as you allow mom to dictate what's 'reasonable' she will continue to keep your children involved in something to limit your time. If it's not school activities, it will be a friend's playdate, etc . Trust me on this. Get a parenting plan placed in the order as detailed as possible.
if it's not spelled out precisely, the court can't do anything but tell her she needs to be more flexible with the children's schedule to allow your visitations and you will go round and round on what she thinks is reasonable.

Jade

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RE: What is reasonable and liberal?
« Reply #7 on: Feb 11, 2007, 07:16:44 AM »
>I am a recently divorced man with two sons in elementary
>school and two high-school aged daughters.  BM has RC of all
>four.  
>
>Our situation is as complex as most divorces, and I can't hope
>to provide all the details here.  The issue at present is that
>during a mediated separation, I consented to BM's plan to move
>from PA to MD and obtained "Reasonable and Liberal" parenting
>time in the separation agreement in exchange.  That agreement
>was then incorporated verbatim into the final judgment of
>divorce.  
>
>I also elected informally to cede holidays to her.  Holidays
>are a matter of personal indifference to me, so I am happy to
>visit with my children during other times.
>
>In general, I would like to build my time with the children
>around weekend visits (logistically and financially, I can
>manage to get down to MD once or twice per month for a
>weekend), and then bring them up to PA to visit with me at
>least a few times per year (a week or two in the summer, and
>an occasional weekend).  
>
>There are basically three salient problems at this point.  
>
>1) BM will not help to schedule the time.  Activities at her
>church occupy the children's time every Sunday morning and
>evening, as well as many other Saturday and Sunday activities.
> This is aggravated further since many of these are not
>scheduled far enough in advance to allow me to schedule around
>them.  Other sorts of events also pop up during my visits.
>The basic message that she seems to send the children is "your
>father will be here to visit with you, unless you have
>anything else to do."
>
>2) BM solicits information from the children about what they
>would like to do during my visit and attempts to impose those
>decisions on me by either telling me about them in front of
>the children, or building up the childrens' expectations in
>advance.  Thus, the visits are extensions of her aims, and
>leave me none of the latitude that R&L parenting time seems to
>afford -- we end up at the local Chuckie Cheese or a movie
>instead of the Smithsonian.
>
>3) BM insists that she has a veto on my decisions about the
>use of time, and that "I can't take the children out of state
>without her permission."  I grant that I have a reasonable
>obligation to let her know what we are doing, especially in
>broad terms such as long distance travel, just as she does.
>In a recent instance, I was going to go with my 16yr old
>daughter to a late movie with her boyfriend to a movie.  BM
>objected, called her on her cell phone and told her she was
>not to go to the movie and that BM would meet her at the
>theater to take her home.  
>
>I am loathe to try to get a scheduled parenting time order,
>because, in principle, I think the R&L language has the best
>potential to support the way real schedules work.  
>
>I'm not sure what might be the best course of action.  On
>thing that occurs to me is asking a court to interpret and
>somehow more clearly define what constitutes Reasonable and
>Liberal Parenting Time.  
>
>The other would be to get some sort of scheduled parenting
>time order.  Perhaps, there is a hybrid of some sort that
>would work.  Something that would set some proportion of time
>to be spent with the children, and prioritizing that time.
>
>Advice, comments and clarifying questions welcome.


This type of wording in a custody agreement can work.  But only if BOTH parties cooperate and keep the best interests of the child(ren) in mind.  

That is the wording in my custody agreement.  And, so far, it is working for the ex and me.  And, yes, he does see them on a regular basis and calls them most days (the kids don't always want to talk to him, but he does call).  

It doesn't appear to be working for you and you need to file for a modification to get the times specifically spelled out.  

 

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