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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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Old 11-14-2011, 12:08 PM
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Default 1 year "wait" for 50% child custody vs "status quo"

Hello Folks:

I could really use the forum's collective input/wisdom/advice on my situation. I'll try to keep it brief lol....

-2 children ages 9 and 12. I have no concerns that my wife was/is a good mother; I traditionally put in a lot of hours at work to support the family since she preferred to stay at home with the kids rather than work outside the home. I do have flexibility on my hours and my parents live in the same town, are in good health, and happy to help me with daycare from after school to dinnertime

-we are both doing are best to keep things amicable but things are obviously stressful

-my wife had some reservations but initially led me to believe she was fine with 50/50 custody. However, after the lawyers's meeting she now wants to restrict me to the "traditional" every Wed night and every other weekend.

-if things go as planned, we'll have separate homes about a 15 min walk apart in same school district as my kids.

-Yes, obviously its a change for the children and in fairness she has been "primary" caregiver BUT the kids are old enough now they don't need their mother as much (ie. vs newborns and under 3 years old). I"m confident we can both make this work for the kids.

-I feel strongly about having access to my kids 50% of the time and don't feel Im' being unreasonable.

-by the way, in case some think this is only about "money"; I make much more than she does (and likely will stay that way) so even with the CS "offset" I"ll likely only save about 20% from "full" CS anyway. This is about being fair that we both have equal access to OUR children.

-anyway, neither one of us wants this to turn into a long, expensive, ugly "war" and go to court over child custody.

-quite frankly, I honestly don't see the difference one more night a week would have on the kids. If I'm good enough for every other wkend and one nite per week, why not two nites per week ?

-anyway, after speaking, she agreed that she would be agreeable to go from the "traditional" (ie. 35%) child accesss TO 50% access after about one year and would be willing to put this in the SA.

MY QUESTION.....

-my understanding is that "status quo" locks in after about 6 months. So, my fear is that IF she changes her mind after one year, even if the SA said we then have 50% access each, COULD the courts refuse to enforce the SA of 50% under the "status quo" guideline.

-of course, I'm asking my lawyer but quite frankly I find the info on here tends to be very valuable and I would very much like to hear comments. Has anyone done this ? That is, a "lagged" 50% child custody.

This is really important to me. I don't want all hell to break loose but I don't want to lose equal access to my kids. I'm not keen on having to wait one year for full 50% access but if that what it takes, I guess I can live with it. BUT, I need to know FOR SURE that such an agreement would be enforced by the courts (if needed) when the one year rolls around.

Any help would be most appreciated !
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:55 PM
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Just my 2 cents, but I have to say no, you shouldn't agree to a delayed 50/50 arrangement. Why would she offer it later and not now?

Even if it's in a separation agreement I would still be worried that it might not hold enough weight with the judge. She will have made the current arrangement status quo by then.

There has to be a reason why she would offer it later but not now. She is probably hoping that you will just become used to the routine and not try for the 50/50 arrangement later on.

I had to fight tooth and nail to get my kids 50/50 so I would never advise someone to take this lightly.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:01 PM
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If there is no 'abuse' claims by either party... 50-50 should be the standard agreement. Too many parents are giving up on their children due to fears of litigation. Just state your perspective and go with 50-50. There is no reason with your living situation and being so close that the other parent can't facilitate this.

Good Luck!
Tayken
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:13 PM
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Just to clarify, I really DON"T want to have to wait for 50% for one year. However, I don't want World War 3 either so the wait may be the lesser evil.

Earlier posters seem to confirm my fear that the courts may not enforce 50/50. Her reason is that since she was the primary caregiver the kids need time to adjust to me in that role 50% of the time but again, does one extra night a week really make a big difference ? However, at the end of the day that's her thinking on it.

So, a few questions...

1) Do most posters agree that regardless of the SA that the courts could later refuse to enforce the 50/50 agreement in a year if she changes her mind then ?

2) IF it went to court, are odds good they would agree to 50/50? I'm getting conflicted data on this with some saying courts are biased against dads and automatically default to mom and other viewpoints that 50/50 should be a given assuming both are good parents and won't hurt the kids (ie. substance abuse, criminal record, etc.).

3) IF we went to court, assuming I want 50/50 and she won't budge, what would happen in the meantime ? Would it default to 50/50 in absence of court ruling pending final judgement ? How long would this likely take ? How much it would likely cost ?

4) any tips for me ?

I really don't think 50/50 access is unreasonable, why the hell doesn't the court mandate this as a default if no problem with either parent ?

Thanks
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by confused1999 View Post
1) Do most posters agree that regardless of the SA that the courts could later refuse to enforce the 50/50 agreement in a year if she changes her mind then ?
If you have already signed the settlement agreement and given away your access and custody of your children you have an uphill battle to regain it. You do have older children so a quick assessment can assist you in regaining what you shouldn't have had to give up in the first place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused1999 View Post
2) IF it went to court, are odds good they would agree to 50/50? I'm getting conflicted data on this with some saying courts are biased against dads and automatically default to mom and other viewpoints that 50/50 should be a given assuming both are good parents and won't hurt the kids (ie. substance abuse, criminal record, etc.).
To quote a solicitor who said this to a mother who attempted to gain sole custody and every other weekend access: "The courts don't take children away from good parents anymore."

Suffice to say, even with the concerted efforts put forth by the applicant mother, 50-50 was awarded right off the bat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused1999 View Post
3) IF we went to court, assuming I want 50/50 and she won't budge, what would happen in the meantime ? Would it default to 50/50 in absence of court ruling pending final judgement ? How long would this likely take ? How much it would likely cost ?
Court is not your only option. You could take the matter to arbitration or mediation-arbitration. This is a much cheaper alternative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused1999 View Post
4) any tips for me ?
Don't sign anything (SA) without good legal advice from a lawyer. You have every right to parent your children equally even if you are of the male gender. Children need both parents equally involved in their lives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused1999 View Post
I really don't think 50/50 access is unreasonable, why the hell doesn't the court mandate this as a default if no problem with either parent ?
50-50 is not a problem. It is your right as set forth by the Family Law Act. Too many people give up their rights and give up out of fear.

The only way you should be giving up 50-50 is if you have left the jurisdiction, there are true findings of abuse and/or neglect against you as a parent.

There is no better parent (male/female) anymore. There are just parents who love their children.

50-50 "shared custody" was created by the feminist movement because too many fathers were abandoning their parental responsibilities. I think more mothers should be forcing fathers to do their equal share and not just pay for it.

Good Luck!
Tayken
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:14 PM
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Hi Tayken:

Thanks so much for your input.

To clarify, I haven't yet signed the SA yet. I liked the fact that you seemed to feel confident that if both parents are "good" parents the courts won't discriminate against males automatically and should award 50/50.

I'm not trying to look a gift horse in the mouth but it looks like in the past many men were screwed over in not getting 50 50 merely because of their sex which I suspect you'll concur with. In your opinion are MOST courts now of the opinion 50 50 is a default barring a poor parent or are some judges still "old school" and don't believe men should have equal access to their kids; merely that they should "bankroll" them only ?

It seems to me that the prejudice of the individual judge is what dictates the results.

Thanks !
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:54 PM
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2 cents. You had de facto 50/50 until now because you were living together. That gives you much better position on the issue than a SA a year from now. If you give it up willingly it can be argued that you must have agreed with it. It worked for year it can work longer...It becomes a status quo and it can be so called heavy lifting to reverse it.
If mom disagrees she might cut down visitation anyway and it might take a year before you get it but you have not lost your argument by giving up.
This might not be about money for you but it might be for mom.
Mom might be afraid to "loose" the kid.
Any way that can minimize those fears will go a long way solving your problem.
It sounds like your situation is still civilized. Knowing her you can put yourself in her shoes and look for solution from her perspective.
If you succeed you will not only save ton of money but you will give a great gift to your kids. The war is devastating.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:19 PM
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In my opinion...50/50 should be the only option you ask for and accept. Remember that until there is a SA you automatically have equal access to the kids as her...regardless of what she may think.

My ex (husband) and I have 50/50 because I refused to accept any less from him. Our son deserves a father. Thanks to 50/50 he has that and my ex is actually a dad to our son now. Before we separated I did everything for our son but his evening bath. It was a huge learning experience for my ex...one that he did really well at, by the way. It was also a huge learning experience for me...one that took about a year to adjust to! By the way...his lawyer only recommended him to ask for 40% (two nights a week and every other weekend).

Other posters on here mentioned that once status quo is determined you will have a fight to get 50/50 if she refuses to abide by the SA. I'd establish 50/50 now...well within your rights as a parent (regardless of gender). The fight now (should it happen) will be easier now than later.

In Saskatchewan there are mandatory "Parenting Through Separation" courses. If there are any where you are I'd recommend both of you taking it ASAP. It wasn't until my ex took the course that he "accepted" 50%.

One thing to note...if you do decide to go with a mediator, it would not hurt to ask upfront their views on access. If they are not 50/50, I'd keep looking till I found a mediator that was on the same page. Otherwise you may find your ex feeling she has every right to expect you to only have them one night a week and every other weekend.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:49 PM
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OK, so the consensus appears to be....

-even if the SA says 35% NOW, and 1 year later to go to 50%, then notwithstanding the SA, if my wife changes her mind, the bottom line is that "status quo" will trump the signed SA.

Again, while I disagree with it, my wife feels the kids need to "transition" to 50/50 over a year or so. I suspect many here will share my feelings that this is not a valid concern. However, it is to HER and I'm trying to keep things civil. I think we all know its in everyone's best interest to keep things calm and amicable.

My concern is an agreement which is enforceable should she change her mind one year later.

So, can my friends on this forum suggest an option which ....

a) solves my wife's concern of a "transitioning" over a year or so from 35% to 50%

AND

b) solves my concern that the agreement be enforceable one year later

Comments ?
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Old 11-15-2011, 12:09 AM
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Write 50-50 into the agreement you sign now, and have a verbal agreement to get to that point slowly.

Unless you are high conflict, you don't have to stick to the agreement you sign, exactly. You can just put it in the safe deposit box and do your own thing, only bringing it out in the case of disagreement.

If you want 50-50, I would not sign anything that says otherwise.

Has anyone mentioned right of first refusal to you? Look it up for the full details, but basically it means that if one of you can't look after the kids personally on your own time, you will go first to the other parent before seeking third party care.

So maybe you can have the kids one week, your ex has them the next, for 50-50 time as the official access, but even on your weeks, they go to her home after school and you pick them up when you get off work. So technically she has more time with them, where they are probably used to being after school, so they have the transition stability she is seeking, but any time you take the day off, it's still your time to be with them. And at their ages, soon enough they will be able to go from school to your house and hang out by themselves until you get home from work. And you don't have to fight your ex for this, as it's the base agreement.

As for why she would be arguing against 50-50 after consulting with her lawyer, that's your answer right there. The lawyer has convinced her of it, most likely because the more you argue over stuff, the longer you have to pay the lawyers.

This is also an easy way to see if it's really about the money. You may think it's not, but honestly, who doesn't want more money? It may be motivating her unconsciously. So if 50-50 is the written access, you'll be using offset payments right from the start, even if you verbally agree to her having more time with them. If she keeps arguing, money probably is a factor.

But I think a right of first refusal may solve a lot of your problems.
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