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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 03-19-2012, 10:25 AM
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Default What to expect from judge? Ex-wife trying to reduce father’s parenting time

I have to attend a case conference due to my ex wanting to reduce my parenting time with my 4 and 6 year old daughters.
Having only recently (April 2011) agreed to a separation agreement/parenting arrangement which allows me (father) the following:
Week 1: Fri 5:30 p.m.–Sun 6:00 p.m.
Week 2: Fri-5:30 p.m Mon drop off at school
Week 3: Fri 5:30 p.m -Sat 9:00 a.m.
Week 4: Fri 5:30 p.m.–Sun 6:00 p.m.
and
Every Tue and Wed, 5:30 to 8:30

My unemployed ex is not happy with the arrangement, despite 4 months of extensive/expensive negotiations. She insisted on no overnights with me during the week so that the girls would have a regular routine. However, she is now unhappy with her minimal weekend access. She now wants the agreement changed to limit my access to alternating weekends, and every second Wed overnight. Essentially this would maintain the # of overnights, but reduce the # of visits per month by 8.
She claimed a “material change of circumstances” in that she had gained employment, which was a part-time 2 day per work/training job. This job has now dried-up. Her arguments have now shifted from her work to the girls being too tired after visiting me on weeknights. The material change now proposed is that one daughter is attending school full time (Grade 1) and the other is now attending half day school (JK).
The fact that the girls are now attending school was foreseeable and therefore not a material change, and the “too tired” argument is nonsense; teacher report cards state there are no concerns and the girls are progressing well. The changes she is requesting are in my view very premature and I believe my ex is just trying to set herself up strategically to maximize future financial support.

I have counter-proposed that (1) we maintain the current arrangement and (2 if it must be changed, that my parenting arrangement be: every Tue and Wed overnight and every second weekend Fri after school to Mon morning drop off at school.

My questions are these: how likely is that my ex will succeed in reducing my parenting time? What strategies are there to stop her from doing this? She is burning through the equalization payment and my legal fees are far beyond my discretionary income, given that much of my income goes to spousal and child support. I am certain she is going to pursue this tooth and nail every step of the way.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:37 AM
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Your schedule seems a bit confusing. Was it initially made around work arrangements for both you and her?

You've been following a schedule for close to a year, so your kids are used to spending a certain amount of time with you. Status quo, which is very important.

I don't think it would be in your kids best interest to spend less time with you than they already do. But really depends on the judge you get. There are some judges who believe that in order for a kid to be successful in school they need to be in one home primarily.

Instead of taking time away from you, why can't you guys agree on a different schedule that would give you both equal weekend access? If she won't agree to this, then that's your argument going in. It's always beneficial to go in looking like you are willing to compromise and negotiate.

There is week to week, or 2/2/3 which are very common shared parenting schedules.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the response. The current parenting agreement was agreed to to accomodate my work schedule, but more importantly to maintain as much as possible the routine the girls had at the time, while maximizing contact with both parents. Since my ex had plenty of access during the week, it was agreed that I would have ample weekend access. I wanted 50/50 access, but my ex did not and because she a full time stay at home mother, I ended up agreeing to just 8 overnights a month, but with weeknight dinner visits.
I have tried to compromise. My proposal(s) maintain my parenting time, but her's are hell bent on reducing it. In my view, she seems strategically determined to reduce my parenting time at any cost.
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:21 PM
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That's too bad she's being like it. It's impossible to negotiate with someone who is unreasonable. It looks like a judge might have to rule on your situation.

Would you be able to make a 2/2/3 work - she would have Monday, Tuesday, you would have Wed, Thurs and then you guys could alternate Fri, Sat, Sun. That's a 50/50 arrangement.
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Old 03-19-2012, 02:12 PM
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Kids are in school, you are now separated - time for her to get a job.
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Old 03-19-2012, 05:46 PM
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I agree. She plans to write a certification exam in her field on June 3rd and could possibly have a part time job by September. But even then, I won't agree to her proposal. i am happy giving up some weekend time, going to alternating weekends, provided that the time is made up with overnights during the week. I would have thought that once she goes back to work that my contact time would increase, not decrease. At what point could I conceivably attain 50/50 access?
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Old 03-19-2012, 05:59 PM
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This would be the best time to do it... if she is bringing a motion to decrease, you counter will 50/50... week on, week off is common or the 2/2/3 works well also.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:27 PM
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The 'too tired' is not surprising, given such a late handover on school nights! They should be in bed at 830pm! A perfect solution for that is to extend those to overnights.

I presume this is the first time that she has mentioned they are tired? Assuming yes, then she is demonstrating more interest in game-playing than problem-solving. i.e. not acting in kids' best interest.

Is her career likely to offer Mon-Fri 9-5 employment or more irregular, weekend hours? If the former, then you again have a strong reason for splitting the weekends evenly. This (plus your current schedule) leads very nicely into a 2/2/3.

Your proposed solution solves her stated problems very nicely!! Judges like that!

As other posters said, this is a good time to argue for 50-50.

Last edited by dinkyface; 03-19-2012 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:59 PM
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thanks again. Though there is no guarantee, her work very will probably be part time 2 or 3 days a week, such as a Monday and Thursday 9-5 job.
My response has been to extend the 8:30 drop off to overnights, as you suggest. I have argued for 50/50 or a 2/2/3 arrangement, but she will not consider it. A mediator strongly hinted that research shows with children this young, a 50/50 arrangement is probably not appropriate. I did not agree and said there is plenty of research that also shows the importance of a father being very involved at a young age.
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Old 03-19-2012, 09:01 PM
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Would you be able to make a 2/2/3 work - she would have Monday, Tuesday, you would have Wed, Thurs and then you guys could alternate Fri, Sat, Sun. That's a 50/50 arrangement.[/quote]

I have suggested a 2/2/3 arrangement and it fell on deaf ears.
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