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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 06-20-2013, 08:43 AM
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Good morning.
This is my first post here.

I have a question regarding "reasonable access to the children".
A bit of background, the parents separated in October 2012 and have been living separate since. There are 2 girls, ages 2 & 4. Currently, there is no interim custody order in place, or any type of formal agreement. The Mom is asking for sole custody while the Dad is asking for 50/50.

Typically, the Dad has the girls 3 weekends out of each month. Prior to the separation, the Father was very active in the children's lives. This goes from Friday at 5:30pm until Sunday at 7:00pm. The Mom has the girls the remainder of the time (which is all she will "allow" without an order).

I am under the belief that both the mother and father, because there is no formal agreement in place, have equal right to the girls at present time. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Recently, the Mother has been telling the Father to return the girls before 4:00pm on Sunday, because she has planned Sunday dinner with her parents and siblings.

This matter has been brought forth several times by the Father's lawyer, with lack of commitment from the Mother's lawyer. There is always a response but the matter is not directly responded to. Instead, the response reiterates the Mother's proposal of 3 weekends per month ending at 4:00pm Sunday. A response has also been sent to the Mother's lawyer requesting a 4-way meeting, and proposing that perhaps a special chambers application be submitted for an interim custody order. This request has never been addressed by the Mother's lawyer. It is simply ignored (no available dates given, responses have no mention of facilitating a 4-way meeting).

What, if anything, can the Father do or say? Simply not showing up at 4:00 doesn't seem like a smart move (even though it's a demand and has not been ordered in any capacity) but giving in to her constant demands (far more than what I've written here) is only fueling her need to demand more and more. He feels his time with his kids is being unjustly cut short. He feels that his relationship and time spent with his children should take priority over dinner with the Mother's family (the mothers family live in town, it's not a special visit or rare chance to see them). While he takes no issue with the kids having a relationship with her extended family, he feels those arrangements should be made within her parenting time, rather than his time being cut short to accommodate such visits. She feels he is being difficult by not accommodating her family.

Any advice or relative experiences would be appreciated. If there are legal facts or anything I may be over looking or missing, please feel free to inform me.

Thank you!
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:30 AM
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What has the schedule been up until now? If it has been until 7pm, I'd simply state that I don't agree that a change in schedule is necessary and that the schedule has been in place for months now, thus it is status quo. And that if she wishes to have family gatherings that the children can attend, she is free to do it during her parenting time. Or, in the alternative, agree to returning the kids at 4pm on Sunday, but only in exchange for an overnight each week. That way he isn't losing any parenting time and it becomes more of a negotiation versus him being dictated to.

But the answer is simple. State that he doesn't agree with the change in schedule and that he will continue to abide by the current parenting time schedule. That the only changes he is willing to entertain are increases to his parenting time.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:18 PM
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Also, it goes without saying that if your requests for amicable and reasonable accomodations to try and solidify a parenting arrangement have been ignored, then he needs to kick his lawyer in the ass and get into a judge for an interim arrangement.

He essentially has the EOW screwjob, (instead of the standard wed, he has a third weekend).

Is the father capable of doing 50-50? What is his parenting plan? How does he propose to faciliate it? If he has that kind of documentation in hand, then get into court, and start the damn process already.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:45 PM
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Where are you living and where is she living.

Is she living in the Matrimonial home?

If so move back in NOW, that will probably be your only shot at 50/50. I'm not sure if there is a time limit but you have equal rights to the matrimonial home.
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Old 06-20-2013, 05:38 PM
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I agree with hammerdad. don't let her boss you around on the fly. since you get Three weekends instead of four you can maybe suggest that she can on occasion get a Sunday eve, one out,of Three weekends . so she doesn't have to give notice suggest the second weekend of the month maybe...Sunday 4 pm return
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:27 PM
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Is there any reason why you can't do drop off on Monday morning at the daycare? You could also be picking up from daycare on the Thursday night and have the kids until drop off on Monday morning.

If you want 50/50 how do you propose the schedule would look?

Stop having your lawyer send e-mails back and forth. If they are not responded to by her lawyer, do not re-send.

I would not suggest a 4-way meeting, they are generally a waste of money and time. If your ex is already dictating what she thinks will happen, she isn't likely to back down in a 4 way meeting. She most likely will feel empowered by her lawyers presence.

When you meet with your lawyer do you ask questions? You should have a strategy decided. You will ask for xxx, and then file a motion etc. This will most likely be a lengthy, expensive process and you should have time lines.

I have even heard of someone who presented her lawyer with a list of what she wanted and a retainer and then in all seriousness asked for change back. She got it. Now this person had done a lot of research, knew where the law was in her favour and asked for below that. Her lawyer knew this and also knew she was very serious when she said she wasn't give any more money and expected change.

Her philosophy is, have a budget for your divorce just like anything else. You should know how much you can afford to spend at the outset. If the proceedings become over budget, you need a second job to pay for it.

Good luck
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:56 PM
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Move back in to resume your equal parenting, or counter her demand with a demand for some variety of 50-50 access (week about, 2-2-5, whatever). She does not get to dictate your time with the children, but you sure made it easier for her to try by moving out of the house.

If she wants her Sunday dinners, she's going to have to offer you more time with the children elsewhere in the week. Tell her you'll have the girls back by 4pm Sunday if you get to start your time on Thursday evening instead of Friday. Tell her you'd be happy to switch to alternating weekends if you can also have every Monday and Tuesday. Then she could have her family dinner half the Sundays instead of one Sunday a month.
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:04 PM
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Thank you for the replies. I'm a 3rd party here, neither the mother or the father.

Yes, the mother lives in the Matrimonial home. The father no longer lives there because an Emegency protective order was filed. The EPO was not granted at the hearing because her claims were unsubstantiated. It was seen as a ploy by the mother to get the father out of the house. Between the time she filed for the EPO and the hearing date, she changed the locks and made the house inaccessible to the Father. At the time, he should have been more persistent about not being out of the house for good, but the Father was worried it would look like he was creating conflict and a potential unstable environment for the kids. I'm not sure fighting to move back in after 8 months would be a sensical move? Plus, her boyfriend has since moved into the matrimonial home with her. Currently, the Mother is trying to assume the mortgage.

A big issue moving forward has been the Mother retaining new counsel regularly. She is on lawyer number 5. Every 6 or so weeks the Father feels he has to "start over" because a new lawyer is representing the Mother and is not current on the divorce thus far. The Mother's current lawyer IS responding, but her response doesn't relate to any issues in the correspondence that was sent.

The Mother is being difficult in terms of giving the Father reasonable and generous access to the kids. Like I said in my first post, there is no custody order in place or formal agreement, and she has been unwilling to agree on a set schedule. Here is an example for how this works:
The Father will email on Monday or Tuesday "Can I have the girls from Friday until Sunday?" the Mother will reply "sorry we have plans". Days later (typically a Thursday evening or Friday afternoon) in the SAME WEEK, she will send an email "So, are you taking the girls this weekend?". The Father always says yes, even if it means canceling plans or rearranging his schedule. The Father feels that the Mother is 'setting him up' to say he can't take the girls on such short notice, so she can say "see, he doesn't want his kids!". It's a sad situation.

As for changing drop off on Sunday, she is unwilling to add time on another day because it "disrupts the kids routine".

The child care situation (with the mother) is a private nanny that comes to the house. The Mother has said no to extending times to Thursday pick up or Monday drop off because it "doesn't follow the girls routine". How should that be handled? Everything with her is replied to with "no". She's not willing to make any compromises.

The Father JUST found out (after the fact) that the Mother enrolled the 4 year old in kindergarten starting in September. The Father had no say in this decision. How is the Mother able to do that? It's assumed the Mother knew that if she could say "the child is enrolled in school" that the courts will likely side with her regarding custody, since she has now established another piece of the "routine puzzle". It's frustrating for the Father that the Mother is making important decisions without consulting him, which is strengthening her case for sole custody.
Before finding out about about the enrollment in kindergarten, a 50/50 custody situation was very realistic. The Father was able to obtain child care consistent with what the Mother has in place, and schedules and routines could have been kept. The Mother chose a school that was completely out of the way of the Father's work, which would make it very difficult for the Father to accommodate.

Again, thank you for the replies. The insight and support is very appreciated.
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousBug View Post
The Mother is being difficult in terms of giving the Father reasonable and generous access to the kids. Like I said in my first post, there is no custody order in place or formal agreement, and she has been unwilling to agree on a set schedule. Here is an example for how this works:
The Father will email on Monday or Tuesday "Can I have the girls from Friday until Sunday?" the Mother will reply "sorry we have plans". Days later (typically a Thursday evening or Friday afternoon) in the SAME WEEK, she will send an email "So, are you taking the girls this weekend?". The Father always says yes, even if it means canceling plans or rearranging his schedule. The Father feels that the Mother is 'setting him up' to say he can't take the girls on such short notice, so she can say "see, he doesn't want his kids!". It's a sad situation.
He should establish with the mother that those three weekends are his time, and it IS the children's routine so she should not be making plans. He must stop wording things as "can I have the girls" as that gives her permission to say no, and use "I will be picking the girls up at the usual time" instead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousBug View Post
As for changing drop off on Sunday, she is unwilling to add time on another day because it "disrupts the kids routine".
Then obviously he cannot return them earlier for Sunday dinner as she requested as that "disrupts their routine." But until a judge orders otherwise, he is an equal parent as just as entitled to establish their routine as the mother is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuriousBug View Post
The child care situation (with the mother) is a private nanny that comes to the house. The Mother has said no to extending times to Thursday pick up or Monday drop off because it "doesn't follow the girls routine". How should that be handled? Everything with her is replied to with "no". She's not willing to make any compromises.

The Father JUST found out (after the fact) that the Mother enrolled the 4 year old in kindergarten starting in September. The Father had no say in this decision. How is the Mother able to do that? It's assumed the Mother knew that if she could say "the child is enrolled in school" that the courts will likely side with her regarding custody, since she has now established another piece of the "routine puzzle". It's frustrating for the Father that the Mother is making important decisions without consulting him, which is strengthening her case for sole custody.
Before finding out about about the enrollment in kindergarten, a 50/50 custody situation was very realistic. The Father was able to obtain child care consistent with what the Mother has in place, and schedules and routines could have been kept. The Mother chose a school that was completely out of the way of the Father's work, which would make it very difficult for the Father to accommodate.

Again, thank you for the replies. The insight and support is very appreciated.
Can he visit the school and find out how she enrolled the child without the other parent's signature? Is there a school he would prefer? He should contact the mother and tell her that they need to discuss this. Silence is going to be interpreted as agreement.

Over the last eight months the mother has embarked on an erosion of the father's parental rights, and he is letting her get away with it. The thing about this is that it creates a status quo so that when they get to court, the judge is likely to order that it continue.

Where is he in the court process? She is using obvious stall tactics to extend the status quo, by getting him out of the home and by changing lawyers so much.

Read WorkingDad's case
CanLII - 2011 ONSC 6451 (CanLII)
CanLII - 2011 ONSC 7476 (CanLII)
for ways to combat a status quo established by trickery.

But anyways, he's got far greater problems than her wanting the child back 3 hours earlier. He should focus on those.

Last edited by Rioe; 06-23-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:29 PM
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I still vote for move back in. HONEY I'M HOME! Watch how quickly things get settled.

He could have simply called a locksmith to come and open the house back up for him. Leaving was a bad move, and now he's on the defensive.

In any event, prepare a reasonable offer to settle. I would also visit the school and find out if he is on the contact information for the 4 year old. If not,he should be putting himself on there.

If you don't get your offer accepted, you instruct your lawyer to immediately get you before a judge. Ideally you want to make sure you are able to do week on/week off (with a visit mid week to the other parent) and can show how you will faciliate that.
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