When you’re fighting your ex for child custody, developing a schedule that benefits all involved parties isn’t easy. If you can’t find common ground, you must try to remain legally and ethically moral, even if it means pushing your feelings aside. Only when you’ve assessed the basic repeating cycle – taking schooling, work and finances into account – can you decide which method is best for your unique situation.
Custody X Change is software that creates professional parenting plan documents and parenting schedules.
Until the final word goes through a mediator or court system, every move you make could affect the outcome. Fortunately, Custody X Change has produced an infographic filled with tips and advice that will help during this difficult time.
What is split custody?
Split custody is when two parents who are separated or divorced split the physical custody of their children with each other. One child lives with one parent, and the second child lives with the other parent.
Joint custody and split custody are two terms which are commonly confused with one another. Many people say they have split custody but really have joint custody, or both parents have a say in how their children are raised. Split custody has more to do with where each child is living.
How often is split custody used?
Split custody is not very common. Many parents, professional counselors, and the courts agree it is best for siblings to stay together. Children do much better transitioning back and forth between parents when they have each other. However, there are some situations where split custody works well.
First, split custody is most frequently used when a child enters their teen years and wants to either bond with parent of the same gender or spread their wings by living with the other parent. They often think life will be easier and the will have more freedom living with the other parent. Sometimes the child learns this in not true and wants to come back to their original home.
You want to be aware the courts will always do what they think is best for the child and will often allow teenagers to live with the parent they choose.
Second, split custody is sometimes used if there are extreme relationship issues between certain parents and children or even the children themselves. It is usually recommended to try and work things out if this is the issue. However, there are some times when the best choice is to have a split custody schedule.
Third, it is physically dangerous for the siblings to live together. This is a very rare case but there have been some siblings who have physical or mental issues and are prone to hurting those around them. Split custody is the best option in this case. The children may then spend time together with proper supervision at certain times.
What are the biggest concerns with split custody?
The main concern many child advocates have with split custody schedules is the children not spending any time with each other. They indicate children who have good relationships with their siblings are more adjusted. If you decide to have a split custody schedule, you will want to make sure you allow adequate time for them to be together.
One idea is to have the children at their homes during the week and then the children spend weekends together alternating between parents. This makes it so there are exchanges every weekend and it does take more effort from the parents but is worth the work.
Should I have a split custody schedule?
The biggest item you need to think about when choosing a custody schedule is to do what is best for your children. Look at your unique situation and decide what would be best for your child, you, and the other parent. Then move forward making the best of it.
There are many people who create their own, customized custody agreements. They are able to review their personal schedules, anticipate their child’s needs, and create custody arrangements that both parents are happy with.
When parents are able to create their own custody agreements, the judge will review their plans to make sure they are right for the child and will typically approve them. This helps their custody case go smoothly and conclude in a timely manner.
These parents are able to create unique custody agreements and visitation schedules that cater to the needs of their children and offer an alternative to the old standard visitation schedules and custody agreements.
Not all parents are able to work together to create an agreement. When parents are unable to reach an agreement, their custody arrangements will be decided for them by the court.
This will often result in a court order that includes a generic, basic custody plan. A standard custody agreement may be the right choice if:
- Parents are so hateful toward each other that they cannot manage to sit in the same room together in a professional manner. If they cannot or will not communicate, reaching an agreement becomes impossible.
- A parent is so hurt by and angry with the other parent that they completely disregard what is best for their child. Instead, they use the child as a weapon in order to plot revenge against the other parent. They fight for the custody plan that they want and are unyielding. They certainly are not going to set their vendetta aside in order to keep the peace and create a custom agreement.
- There are situations that may occur, such as domestic violence, that prohibit a parent from having any form of contact with the other one. Of course, this only pertains to parents who feel endangered. If the child is endangered, a standard custody agreement would not be appropriate. They would need to seek supervised visitation in order to protect their child from the other parent.
- Despite their best efforts, some parents are unable to reach an agreement, even after attending mediation. They both want different things and are unwilling or unable to compromise. They mean well, but they simply cannot come to an understanding regarding custody.
If you are unable to create and submit a mutually agreed upon custody plan, it is likely that you would be given a standard custody agreement. This is a basic schedule and custody agreement that the court assigns to parents when they do not submit a finalized agreement to the court.
If you do not want your child to be stuck with a generic schedule, and you are unable to give an agreement to the court, you can create your own proposed agreement to present to the judge. This will give the judge something else to consider in addition to the standard plan.
If you are able to convince the judge why your schedule would benefit your child, the judge will think about your request and may even approve it. Thousands of child custody cases are brought into court for litigation each year. A proposed agreement will provide the court with insight as to your child’s needs and your unique circumstances.
Giving the judge an alternative to choose from is a way to improve your chances of having a positive outcome in your case.
If you do end up with a standard custody agreement, you should keep in mind that there are many families that have successfully followed the same agreement before you. Spending quality time with your child can be more important that the quantity of time you spend with her. You should also know that custodial parents are more likely to allow the child to spend extra time with non-custodial parents as time passes and if the other parent is pleasant to them.
Ultimately, a child’s custody arrangements should be determined by the child’s parents. Parents know their child better than anyone. They are familiar with the child’s routine, the child’s needs, and their own particular circumstances.
Ideally, parents should be able to put their differences aside and work together for the sake of their child to create a child visitation schedule.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are thousands of children who end up with standard custody agreements because their parents were unwilling or unable to create a customized custody plan for them.
A typical standard visitation schedule will give the non-custodial parent visitation with the child every other weekend and one evening a week. This arrangement may seem unfair to many people. This type of arrangement may feel as if one parent is more important in the child’s life than the other one, since one parent will have the child the majority of the time.
If you are faced with a standard visitation schedule, there are ways to make the most of the time you spend with your child.
The first thing you should consider doing is to make sure you are able to spend the allotted amount of time with your child. If your child is spending portions of the time he or she is supposed to be spending with you in daycare, you should rearrange your work schedule so you are free to spend time with your child instead of working.
You should clear your social calendar so that you are not away from your child when it is your weekend. This doesn’t mean you should sit home and do nothing because you have your child for the weekend. If you do make plans, make sure your child is included in them. Playing eighteen holes of golf is not as important as spending that same amount of time with your child. Things like that can wait for your free weekends.
The way you look at the amount of time you have to spend with your child can have an impact on your attitude and mood. If you are upset or angry about the custody schedule, your child will likely be affected by your negative feelings.
Consider this: If your child is in school, the other parent will spend every week day morning getting your child ready for school and weekday evenings feeding your child, getting her homework done, and getting her ready for bed. Unless your ex happens to be your child’s teacher, he or she will not be spending time with your child when she is in school. The week will be spent getting through the routine.
If your ex works full-time during the week and your child is in school, the time your child spends with him or her will be routine. The weekend is when your child will have to opportunity to spend quality time with both parents.
A parent following the every other weekend / one evening a week schedule will have the opportunity to see their child ten days in a four week period. Ten days doesn’t seem like enough, but when you consider you are getting half of your child’s free time (the weekends) and that the other parent doesn’t have much time to spend with the child in the middle of the week, either, it doesn’t seem that bad.
Most standard custody arrangements provide the non-custodial parent with liberal communication with the child. You can still talk to your child on a daily basis even if you can’t see him every day.
Once the initial emotions that come with divorce have calmed down, you may find that your ex is willing to give you more time with the child. Regardless of your visitation schedule, you should make the most of every minute you have with your child.
In a perfect world, there would be no divorce. People would get married, have children, stay together forever, and sit out on a front porch swing watching their grandchildren playing in the yard.
In a perfect world, even if there was divorce, parents would be able to sit down together and draft the custody arrangements for their children. Their excellent communication skills and ability to compromise would enable them to create a custody agreement that fulfilled all of the needs of their children. There wouldn’t be a need for divorce lawyers and going to court would be a minor inconvenience.
Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. Half of marriages end in divorce, and many families are broken up. Chances are if a couple was able to communicate and compromise in the first place, they would not be ending their marriage.
Divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved, especially the children. Many children feel caught in the middle of their parents’ chaos and some even blame themselves for causing the divorce.
Parents who truly care about the children will do everything they can in order to minimize the negative effects of the divorce. Good parents will be able to put their personal feelings aside and would not use their children as weapons to harm the other parent. They would not use the custody of their children as a method of financial extortion or deprivation.
When you file for divorce or custody of your child, you will be required to submit custody arrangements and a temporary visitation schedule to provide for the custody and care of your child until a custody order is finalized. A good way to make sure that you are looking out for the best interest of your child is to create a temporary custody agreement that is fair to both parents and the child.
Creating a temporary visitation schedule is your opportunity to prove to the court, your ex, and your child that you care about your child’s needs and you want what is best for her. There are too many parents who charge into court with a vendetta against the other parent. They try to get sole custody of their child in order to hurt the other parent. What they fail to realize is that in trying to hurt the other parent, they are actually hurting their child.
A good parent will realize that children need both parents in their lives. The old, generic, “every other weekend” visitation schedule is outdated and does not allow the child to spend enough time with the other parent.
An “every other weekend” visitation schedule forces children to have to wait two weeks in between “visits” with the other parent. Children should not have to feel like visitors in a parent’s home. They should be able to have liberal contact with both parents and should be able to be raised by two parents.
If you wouldn’t want to wait two weeks between visits with your child, why would you wish that upon the other parent? Your temporary visitation schedule should provide your child with frequent, ongoing contact with each of you.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to follow any standardized schedule. As your child’s parents, the court allows you the freedom to create your own custody arrangements. The court will approve your custody agreement if both of you agree to the plan and it meets the needs of your child.
It is likely that the court will adopt the temporary visitation schedule at the conclusion of your case. You should take the time to create the right schedule for your child. If not, you will spend a lot of time in the courtroom litigating the custody of your child. You may also lose the ability to retain control of your child’s custody arrangements if the court feels the need to step in and make them for you.
Your plan may not be perfect. You may need to make adjustments to the visitation schedule or modify your temporary custody agreement as your case progresses. If you start out with good intentions, it is very likely that you will be pleased with the end result, which will be the perfect custody schedule for your child.
The best interest of the child is the main concern of family courts in child custody cases. The court will consider all of the relevant factors that have an effect on the child’s physical and emotional well-being.
Some of the factors the court considers when determining what is in the best interest of a child are the history of the child’s care, the child’s acclimation to his or her home, school, and community, and the stability of the child’s life.
If a child has been primarily cared for by one parent, predominately lives with that parent after the separation, and has developed a close bond with that parent, it is highly unlikely that the court will decide to uproot the child at the request of the other parent unless the primary caretaker has done something to harm or endanger the child.
When parents live together, they each have their own roles in the child’s life. The fact that one parent may act as the child’s primary caregiver, especially if one parent has stayed at home while the other parent worked, is not enough of a reason to simply award sole custody to that parent when their relationship ends.
Each parent brings their own attributes to the child’s life. When a family is broken up by divorce or separation, it does not mean that either parent is more important in the child’s life. Both should still be able to function in their roles as parents to their child.
When a couple decides to divorce, one parent will usually move out of the family home or a parent may move out of the home with the child. The parent that remains with the child may have an advantage in the custody case, simply because the court will want to preserve the continuity of the child’s care.
The fact that one parent chose to leave should not be held against him or her. Someone obviously had to be the one to go. It is a normal occurrence when relationships end. However, when you consider how the court will view maintaining routine in the child’s life, creating a good temporary custody agreement from the onset of the custody case will help protect the rights of both parents.
When you file for divorce or custody of your child, you will be required to submit a custody agreement and a temporary visitation schedule to the court. The temporary schedule will be in effect until your case is finalized and you have a permanent custody order.
Temporary custody agreements may be modified during the course of the custody proceedings, but you should try to create the schedule as if it will become permanent. In fact, it is common for temporary agreements to become permanent at the conclusion of the case.
If you are the one who initially files for custody of your child, you will have the power to request the initial child visitation schedule. If you are the respondent in the custody case, you will have the opportunity to request your own schedule. The judge will decide which schedule seems best for your child. You will also be given the opportunity to work together on a custody plan later on, in mediation.
If you submit a proposed custody agreement that is fair, reasonable, and in the best interest of your child, the judge will be more inclined to rule in your favor than if you submit a plan that is selfish and possibly detrimental to the child. Your personal feelings toward the other parent should be set aside as your focus on what is best for your child.
You should keep in mind that your custody case does not have to turn into a custody battle. If you are considering divorce, you may want to try discussing your child’s care and custody with the other parent and try to work something out before you even file. A little communication and compromise can go a long way and can make your dissolution a lot less stressful.
Many people fight long and hard to get sole custody of their children. Sometimes, they have valid reasons, such as abuse or neglect. Other times, people do it out of spite in an effort to use their children as a weapon in order to hurt the other parent. Some people will even do it to get out of paying child support or in an effort to get more child support.
If you are a rational person, you will recognize joint custody as a viable option for your family. There are many benefits of sharing custody of your child with your ex.
The main reason for sharing custody with the other parent is to do what is best for your child. Children need two good parents in their lives. As long as both parents are fit, willing, and able, the child will benefit tremendously by having both of them in his or her life. The best interest of your child should be the focus of your joint custody agreement.
Another reason for having joint custody is co-parenting. You do not have to live with the other parent in order to co-parent. Once your relationship with your ex develops from a formerly romantic relationship to a parental one, you can start playing on the same team. Getting along with the ex may not be easy or pleasant, at first, but it is what is best for your child. Creating a united from is essential if you want to have a well-adjusted child. Act as a team.
As you create your joint custody agreement, you will need to establish the rules that you both intend to follow as you raise your child apart. If you follow those rules and parent in a manner that is consistent with each other, your child will be better behaved and adjusted. If he or she knows that the same rules apply, regardless of which parent he or she is with, your child will be less likely to act out and try to pit the two of you against each other.
Parents that share joint custody are more likely to rely on each other for support. Parenting is not a right. It is a responsibility. Both parents should be responsible for taking care of their child. The phrase “Disneyland Dad” stems from the fact that a lot of mother’s have custody of their children. They feed them, bathe them, nurture, and raise them.
Meanwhile, the father sees the children every other weekend, spoils them rotten, and then sends them back to mom where they are expected to do homework and chores. A situation like this vilifies one parent and makes a hero out of the other one. Creating a united front gives your child balance.
When you have joint custody, you will need to learn to rely on each other. Take turns missing work when your child is sick. Call the other parent if you need back-up discipline. Follow your joint custody visitation schedule in order to provide your child with stability and security, but be flexible when you should.
Parents who have joint custody of their children also have the convenience of childless freedom. Use the time your child spends with the other parent to rejuvenate yourself and make time for you. Ask for help or a break when you need it.
When parents are able to work out an agreement and treat each other with respect and dignity, it benefits the parents as well as the children. Reaching an agreement will alleviate some of the stress that people are feeling. If you seem agitated with your custody situation, that negativity will affect your child, as well. Creating a customized joint child visitation schedule and custody agreement is one of the best things you can do for your kids.
If you and your ex decide you are going to share custody of your child, you have made a wise decision.
Quite often, parents fight over custody of their children. Sometimes both of them want sole custody and the result is a long, drawn out custody battle. It’s not good for the children and neither is the hostile attitudes and stress that may occur as a result of their failure to reach an agreement.
When parents are mature enough and selfless enough to agree to a joint custody agreement, it indicates that they both have their child’s best interests at heart. Children deserve to spend plenty of time with both of their parents. Joint custody allows children of divorced parents to feel as if they have two parents, not just a parent and a visitor.
If you have agreed to share joint custody but cannot seem to decide on a joint custody visitation schedule, you are not alone. Many parents have trouble creating a specific agreement or don’t even know where to start.
Your parenting time schedule should be based on a variety of factors.
The main deciding factor should be the needs and the best interest of your child. You should create a plan that allows your child to have continued, ongoing access to both of you. The schedule should establish a routine and make your child feel secure.
Your child’s school may be a factor in how you decide to divide your child’s time. You should consider the feasibility of each parent’s ability to transport the child to and from school. If one parent lives just blocks from the school and the other parent has a half hour drive, it would make more sense that the child would spend more time with the parent who lives closer to the school, at least while school is in session.
However, if the other parent has a half an hour drive to get to the child’s school but it is on her way to work, the extra distance would not be a significant factor in the decision as long as the child could get home from school easily.
Your employment will also have an effect on your visitation schedule. You should want to make the most out of the time you have your child. Placing the child in daycare or in the care of some other third party while a parent is at work (and the other parent is available) is not only as excessive expense, it also deprives the child of spending that time with the parent who is free.
Your child’s age and maturity level should also have an effect on your schedule. It is very rare for parents of infants to have a 50/50 joint custody agreement, even though an infant should be able to have the opportunity to bond with both parents. A school age child would be better equipped to handle more time away from her primary care giver than a baby would.
The bottom-line is to try to create the best plan for your child. Make sure the plan is customized to meet your child’s needs and stick to it. A lot of the process involves common sense. You know your child better than anyone and are the best people for the task of creating his joint custody agreement.
It is an unfortunate fact of life that some people are horrible parents. The news is littered with stories of horrific abuse and unimaginable neglect. Parents should nurture and protect their children, not harm them. If your ex is abusive, neglectful, or otherwise harmful to your child’s physical and/or mental well-being, you need to protect your child from the other parent. Sole custody is one of the best ways to do this.
Getting sole custody is not as easy as walking into the courtroom, telling the judge what your ex has done, and walking out with a court order. So many people file for sole custody for the wrong reasons that the people with legitimate cases have to struggle and fight for it. Getting sole custody of your child could turn out to be a long battle. You are going to have to supply the court with enough proof of the other parent’s wrongdoing to solidify your case.
Ryan and his wife Yvette separated when their son, William, was two months old. Within a few days, Yvette filed for sole custody of the baby out of spite. Within a few months, Ryan began to have serious concerns about the safety and well-being of his child.
The first incident occurred when Ryan went to pick up the baby for the weekend. He knocked on the door and no one answered. As he was leaving, he saw his baby. Yvette had left the baby in his stroller at the pool in the apartment complex. No one was watching him. Yvette showed up a few minutes later. She had left the baby at the pool while she went to get her nails done.
Ryan was mortified. He took the baby home. What he should have done was call the police and child protective services. Instead, he had no documentation of the incident.
A few weeks later, the bruises started showing up. The baby had multiple bruises on his back and legs. “He fell.” You expect to see bruises on the shins of a toddler, not on the back of a five month old baby. In hindsight, Ryan should have documented every incident with photographs and doctor visits, and should have called CPS. Instead, again, it was his word against hers.
The incidences of abuse and neglect began mounting. Ryan realized there was definitely a problem and went to court ex parte to get sole custody of his infant son. Instead, Ryan’s request was denied. He didn’t have proof of anything. Additionally, Yvette became so enraged that she refused to comply with the visitation order and Ryan didn’t see his son for months.
The abuse and neglect got worse and continued. Yvette had another baby with another man. The baby was removed by the state after a family member called CPS on her. She had thrown her baby across the room, into a wall.
When CPS came to remove the baby, William was not with her at the time. Yvette evaded them until they closed the case. She evaded CPS on three other occasions, as well. CPS actually substantiated that William had been abused but since Yvette refused to answer her door, they were unable to name her as the abuser. They closed each case.
William suffered at the hands of his mother until he was two and a half years old. Thankfully, the judge, who had grown weary of the couple, ordered them to see a family counselor together.
The counselor listened to their stories. Then, she went above and beyond, and actually went to each parent’s home for surprise visits. Ryan’s home was a clean, healthy environment. Yvette’s apartment had sewage on the floor of the bathroom. The toilet had backed up and Yvette refused to the manager call for maintenance since her boyfriend had punched so many holes in the wall. There was a lit cigarette on the coffee table despite the fact that William’s doctor had said he was allergic to cigarette smoke. There was hardly any food in the house. Yvette’s home was no place for a child.
The counselor was ultimately responsible for placing William in the sole custody of his father. She found proof that couldn’t be brought into a courtroom. She had Yvette and Ryan sign a sole custody agreement in her office the next day and William was placed in his father’s care due to abuse and neglect.
Despite everything, Yvette was still allowed to see William. The sole custody visitation schedule granted her visitation on Mondays, from 9 to 5. After a few months, she eventually stopped coming.
If you need to file for sole custody in order to protect your child, get proof. Not everyone is going to have someone as dutiful as the counselor in William’s case. You should do whatever you can to ensure your child is safe and protected. No child should have to suffer at the hands of their own parent.
So many people go into family court trying to get sole custody of their children that it has made it very hard for people with legitimate reasons for doing so to get sole custody.
People file for sole custody for various reasons. Some people just want to hurt their ex. Other people are looking to either get more child support or to get out of paying child support. Some people do it because they can’t bear to be without their child and are afraid the other parent isn’t going to take care of them as well as they do.
Judges see this day in and day out. They hear so many false claims that it makes it hard to decipher fact from fiction.
The most important reason for seeking sole custody is to protect your child from the other parent. Children should be protected from parents that have harmed them or have the potential to cause them harm.
You should file for sole custody if the other parent has committed physical or sexual abuse against your child or any other child. Other reasons for filing for custody include child neglect, incapacitating mental illness, substance abuse, abandonment, criminal activity that affects the safety and well-being of the child, domestic violence, and the threat of parental abduction.
Proving that the other parent is harmful or unfit is easier said than done. It is not likely that the other parent is going to sign off on a sole custody agreement. You will need evidence to back up your claims.
Your word against the other parent’s is not going to be enough. Your mother or your friend standing up in court, testifying against your ex, may be compelling but it is not going to be enough. If you can get the other parent’s family member to testify on your child’s behalf, it would make a substantial impression on the court, but you shouldn’t rely on them to do so.
You will need to provide solid evidence to the court that the other parent has harmed the child or is a danger to the child in order to get sole custody. Your evidence should show proof of wrongdoing. Medical reports, police reports, and photographs are compelling evidence.
If you know or suspect your ex has been doing drugs, ask the court for drug testing. A failed drug test is a condemning piece of evidence.
Save all threatening texts, emails, and voicemails. Your ex may be perfectly calm in court, but the voicemail he or she left you threatening to hurt you and take your child will prove otherwise.
Keep track of how often the other parent sees the child. If there are long absences between visits, keep an accurate log to show the judge. One way to prove your log is accurate is to suggest that the other parent provide even one photograph of your child taken on a day he or she falsely claims to have visited the child. Digital photos have a date details within the properties of the photo. Abandoning the child for long periods of time is not good for the child.
You should prepare yourself to accept the fact that even if you are granted sole custody, the other parent will more than likely be granted some form of visitation. Only the very worst offenders have their visitation rights taken away. You should be prepared to create and follow a sole custody visitation schedule. You can push for supervised visitation if you feel it is necessary.
The judge will make his or her decision based on what he or she feels is best for your child. Proving your case is the best way to ensure your child is protected. It may be a long battle but it will be worth it in the end if you get the results your child needs.
If you are considering creating a shared custody agreement, you must realize how valuable such an agreement will be for your child. Both parents are equally important to their child. Both parents are entitled to raise their child. Both parents are responsible for raising their child. When both parents reach an agreement, they can co-parent their child in a manner that provides their child with stability and security.
You may be counting down the time until your child turns eighteen and you are free of your ex. The reality is that you are going to be connected to the other parent for the rest of your life. The connection doesn’t end when your child becomes an adult. There will be weddings and other family events. Your eventual grandchildren will have birthdays and there will be plenty of occasions where you are going to cross paths with your ex in the future.
How you choose to live the rest of your life is up to you. Do you want to spend your life arguing with your ex? Do you want to go through life feeling hatred and contempt for your child’s other parent? Do you want your child to be negatively affected by the way you two treat each other? The way you choose to handle your custody situation will have an impact on your life and your child’s life as well.
Dottie and Ernie were married for fifteen years and had two children. They divorced when their children were 10 and 13. They decided to make the best of things, put their differences aside, and share custody of their children. Their divorce was as painful as anyone else’s but they worked out their custody plan and shared visitation schedule. They tried hard to make it work because that is what they knew would be best for their kids. It became easier and easier for them to be in the same room together.
Today, Dot and Ernie are in their seventies. They have five grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren. They are STILL being thrown together during family events. Both have remarried.
What is remarkable is the way they treat each other. They act like old friends. They are civil and polite to each other and their spouses. They have even been known to socialize with each other once in a while. Dot and her husband were invited and attended Ernie’s 75th birthday bash. They share a common bond—their children and their families—and have made the best of it. They have created an environment where everyone is comfortable when they are together.
Dot and Ernie should not have to be the exception and a valuable lesson may be learned from their example. Just because your romantic relationship with someone ends does not mean you have to hate them. Do what you need to do to meet the needs of your child.
Once you have decided to share custody of your child with the other parent you will be taking a significant step toward co-parenting and co-existing with him or her. Deciding to share custody is the easy part. Creating the actual document may seem challenging. You may not agree on every aspect of the plan. Compromises will need to be made and it may take some time to create a thorough and effective plan but the results will be worth it.
Most courts have laws that prohibit discriminating against a parent based on gender. Their laws basically state that a father is to be considered equal to a mother in child custody cases and gender should not be a factor in the court’s decision. Strangely, more often than not, custody is awarded to the mother while the father is allowed to see his child every other weekend.
How are so many dads ending up with skimpy visitation if the court isn’t supposed to discriminate based on gender? Why aren’t more parents creating shared custody agreements?
Judges base their decisions on the best interest of the child. There are many factors that are considered when determining what is best for a child. The child’s history of care and maintaining continuity in a child’s life are key factors.
Mothers are traditionally considered to be the nurturers and caretakers of their children. This mentality applies whether or not the mother is a stay at home mom or works outside of the home. Judges are reluctant to take a child away from her momma if the mother has been the person who has served as the child’s primary caregiver. It is a tough obstacle to overcome but it can be done if you know your rights and fight for them.
If you don’t want an every other weekend kind of visitation schedule, do not agree to one. This old standard visitation schedule represents the bare minimum amount of time a father should be able to spend with his child. You have every right to see your child more often and should request a shared visitation schedule.
If you do not ask for more, you aren’t going to get it. It’s that simple. It may seem easier said than done, but working out a shared custody agreement with your ex is the best way to get the time with your child that you want and deserve. Petitioning the judge for more visitation time should be done if you are unable to reach an agreement with your child’s mother.
It is not unreasonable to ask to be able to see your child at least once a week. What is your work schedule like? You are more likely to get the time you want with your child if you are going to be the one taking care of him.
If your child is in daycare every day after school, and you and the mother both get off work at five, you may want to consider picking up your child one or two days a week. You could keep her overnight (and take her to school in the morning) or until shortly before bedtime. Either way, it is time you can spend with your child helping him with his homework, having dinner, and spending normal middle of the week time together.
“Every other weekend” visitation was established in order to give both parents the opportunity to spend time with their child on weekends. What will work for you? It is unlikely that a judge will give you your child every single weekend, but asking for three weekends a month (such as the first, third, and fourth weekend), even if it is every other month, might work.
If you know your ex works weekends, you may want to see if you can have your child during that time.
If the mid-week visits are not overnights (you should live close enough to the child’s school that taking her to school in the morning would not be burdensome on you or her), a schedule such as this (with two mid-week visits) would give you 4-6 overnights per month (your ex-wife would have 24-26) but you would be able to see your child 15 or more days out of the month. The only day your wife would not see him would be the Saturdays that fall on your weekend.
Does that sound fair? Is it fair that the mother would see her child every day except for two or three days a month? Your child would still be able to see you about half of the days in a month. A schedule where you saw you child every other weekend and two evenings per week will still have your child with the mother more than 80% of the time. It does not seem like an unreasonable request. You could even ask for more time than this.
If you want to get more time with your child, your reasons should be sincere. It shouldn’t have anything to do with lowering the amount of child support you have to pay or seeking revenge on your ex-wife. As your child’s parent, you are entitled to spend time with him and entitled to play a part in raising him. You just need to know what you want and be prepared to fight for it.
This post is from an interview I did with a father whose children live out of state. He shares his feelings about out of state custody along with what he wishes he did when creating a custody schedule with his ex-wife. No two situations are 100% the same but hopefully this post will help guide you in making the right decisions for yourself.
Mike was happily married for five years when his wife informed him she did not want to be married any more. He was devastated. Things were not perfect but he was fully committed to doing whatever it took to make the marriage work. His wife was done and did not want to try and fix things. She moved out and took the children with her back to her home state.
The divorce proceedings moved forward and everything was settled amicably. His ex-wife and children moved in with her parents and other siblings. Mike agreed to the arrangement and gave permission for the children to move with their mother. Both parents agreed it would only be temporary until she could get a job and move out with the children on her own.
Three years have passed and Mike finished graduate school. He has a wonderful job working for the state in which he lives. He also met and married an amazing woman and is very happy. His ex-wife and children are still living with her parents. Mike talks to his kids every day on the phone and sees them every other weekend.
Mike’s Current Feelings
Mike expressed to me his sorrow and frustration about the situation. He does not like that his children are still living at his former in-laws home. He also feels that he has such a little say in how his children are being raised because he is not in the home and lives far away.
Although he talks to his children each day, it is not enough to really know them. The kids are young and often just talk for a minute or two and are done. He said sometimes he is overwhelmed with flooding grief regarding his children and wants nothing more than to be with them.
Mike would move and live close to his kids but the state they live in does not have the same programs as the one he is in. It would take a couple more years and additional certification for that to even be an option.
Mike’s Recommendations for You
1. Do not live out of state or a long distance from your children if possible. He says to think long and hard about how not having you near will affect their upbringing. Realize if you are not around, they will be raised very similar to how the other parent was. There will be very little influence from you.
2. Get as close to your children as you can. Many parents choose to live a long distance so they don’t have to be near each other. Do not allow this to be the reason to be apart from your children. It is easy enough to have distance by living on opposite sides of town.
3. Make all the efforts you can to have a good relationship with your children. There may not be choice of living close by but there are many ways you can create a strong relationship with your children.
4. Get everything in writing when initially creating your out of state custody schedule. He did not want his children to be living with his former in-laws for longer than six months to a year but because it was not written down, his children are still there.
5. Have a visual calendar for your children. Have a calendar to show your children of the custody schedule. It helps them to see when they will be visiting the other parent next. It helps to prevent anxiety and stress on your kids. Plus they can see there is time with the parent who lives further away. The software from Custody X Change is a great way to do this.
Each of us have our own situation in our lives. Mike’s story is meant to be an opportunity for you to learn from someone who has been there and had some difficult situations. Hopefully, you will be able to use his experiences to help you be better prepared for living out of state from your children.
This article will share many different ways for you to bond with your child if you live a long distance from them. One of the biggest fears any parent has after a divorce or separation is how much their child will be a part of their life. This fear is often multiplied if you have a long distance or out of state custody schedule. Here are some great and creative ways for you to still be a part of your child’s life.
Become Pen Pals: Writing letters to your child is a great way to show them you care. Often your child will open up and share thoughts or feeling with you they might not otherwise. I recommend you to give your child a letter writing kit full of paper, pens, envelopes, and stamps. This will make it much easier for your child to write back or any time they feel like it.
Track the Weather: You and your child can track the weather where the other person lives. This helps you to feel connected to the other person. It is a way of knowing a part of one another’s daily life.
Read a Book: There are so many great books for parents and their children to read simultaneously. Pick a book together, decide the time period to finish it by, and then discuss the book. It gives you something to talk about and you will learn more about your child as you discuss the story.
Write A Story: You write the first part of a story, then email it to your child and have them write the next part. Go back and forth until your story is complete. Finish the book by having it published for each of you.
Set Goals: Your child has a goal to make the soccer team and you want to start exercising. Create goals together and hold each other accountable to accomplish those goals.
Use Today’s Technology: There are so many ways to communicate electronically with your child. Try email, text messaging, online messaging, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is instant way to communicate with your child no matter the distance.
Watch TV Shows Together: Connect with your child by knowing they are doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. Pick a TV show you both are willing to watch and follow along. Discuss what happens after it is over. Watch a reality TV competition and pick a favorite participant, then cheer them on together. (Here are a few examples: America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, X Factor, Master Chef, Amazing Race, So You Think You Can Dance, The Bachelor, etc.)
Play Games on the Phone: I play the question game with my children. One person asks the other three questions then switch turns. It is a great way to have fun, ease communication barriers, and even discuss serious issues they are facing. You can also play Two Truths One Lie. A player says three things about them self and the other player has to guess which one is a lie. Also Name That Tune is a great option as well.
Exercise Together: A great way to be healthy and stay accountable to fitness goals.
Care Packages: Everyone loves to get fun things in the mail. Care packages are a great way to create a personal touch. There are different types of care packages. Birthdays, half birthdays (these are fun and unexpected), countdown packages where there is a small present for each day leading up to an event or a visit, or even a package to just show your love.
Online Gaming: My husband and his brothers all play Call of Duty on line as a way to stay in touch. They egg each other on and have lots of fun. Find any game that can be played online together.
Grow Something: Plant the same thing on the same day together. Then take pictures of how your plant is growing and share it with each other. If the plant produces food, have a race to see whose plant grows food first. Or have a permanent item like a tree.
There is a world of options for you and your child to do together. Feel free to tweak any item on this list or create your own. The important thing is to communicate frequently and not just when your child visits.
In custody situations, if one parent moves away from the other you will need to create a long distance custody agreement. If this situation applies to you and you are in the initial stages of your custody proceedings, you will automatically have to include provisions for long distance custody. However, if a parent relocates after custody has been finalized, you will need to return to court to have your order modified.
Occasionally the parent that is relocating will try to go back to court to get sole custody in order to take the child out of the area. The parent may try to convince the judge that there are legitimate reasons that he or she should have sole custody. The parent may try to argue that moving with the child will be better for the child.
Sometimes these tactics work but it is usually only because the other parent was able to convince the judge that moving would in fact be in the best interests of the child. However, most judges consider continuity and stability to be important factors in a child’s life. Disrupting the child’s home, school, and community is not something to be done on a whim or without a good reason.
These attempts to gain sole custody of the child in order to move away with the child often backfire. The result is the child remains with the parent that is not moving away and often times that parent will have gained sole custody in the process.
It is a good idea to include provisions for a long distance custody arrangement in your original custody agreement. Planning ahead will prevent you from having to return to court which will save time and money. Having a pre-existing plan in place in the event a parent decides to move away will help you avoid an unnecessary court battle.
A typical long distance (300 miles or more) custody agreement might consist of the non-custodial parent having the child:
- Spring Break – Every year
- Fall Break (in states that have them) – Odd years
- Thanksgiving (from Wednesday to Sunday) – Even years
- Christmas (for seven days) – Odd years
- Summer – Thirty consecutive days for the first visit after school gets out with an additional two or three week visit at the end of summer
A typical long distance visitation schedule will allow the distanced parent to visit the child within the child’s community several times a year. You will need to decide how much advanced notice the visiting parent should give the other parent and the maximum amount of time each visit shall last.
Visits from the out of area parent should not interfere with the other parent’s allocated holidays and should not infringe upon a parent’s birthday or a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day celebration. A father could certainly visit the child on Father’s Day (or a mother, on Mother’s Day) and the custodial parent should not attempt to prevent the visit.
Travel expenses are something else you will need to consider in your custody agreement. Some judges will order the parents to share the travel and transportation expenses but you certainly do not have to agree to do so. The parent who moves away is creating the additional expense and it seems logical and fair that he or she should be responsible for paying for the costs. You can ask the judge to have the responsibility of the travel expenses to be held by the person that will cause the need for the expenses.
The age of your child should play a role in the length and frequency of long distance visitation. It is unreasonable to expect a two year old to go on a plane and spend thirty days apart from her primary parent / caregiver. You may include different custody arrangements for your child at different ages and stages in her life.
The standard long distance visitation schedules can be used as guidelines. You should not feel obligated to use them. If you can reach an agreement with the other parent you should be able to create your custody arrangements as you see fit.