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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 02-11-2009, 08:52 AM
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Default Is It Wrong of Us to Say No to Extracurricular Activities?

My stepson's mom wants to enroll the child in a sports league. The league runs May - September and holds practices/games 3 times per week (weekends sometimes included) and tournaments on weekends. The location is near her place of residence.

During the league season, we have my stepson with us for 70% of weekends and for half of the summer vacation.

The bio-mom demands that we drive the child to his practices/games while he is with us on weekends and holidays. We live 1.5 hrs away (on a good, no-traffic day).

Plus, with my fiance having lost his job and having yet to find a suitable/profitable position, we are not in the financial position to make the additional trips.

Without surprise, the bio-mom is attacking us with reductions in visitation time if we cannot act in the best interest of the child, and so forth. (I'm sure some of you have been at the receiving end of the wrath that comes when you disagree with your child's other parent.)

Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation?

We have offered a location midway between our homes, but the bio-mom claims that a midway location is not in the best interest of the child because she feels the additional distance is too much to drive when the child is in her care.

Let's not mention the $250 registration fee she wants us to cover at least half of!
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Old 02-11-2009, 10:14 AM
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Is she threatening in writing to reduce your access? Is it easily recordable if it is verbal? Don't play along with her.

What does your access/support agreement say? If it says you must agree on expenses before they are incurred, then you don't have to. I would have a real problem with my ex forcing me to stay local and not have vacations/free time with my child because of activities planned without my consent for the child.

State that in the summer you have lots of activities planned on your access and you do not consent to this activity. It is not like this is a week or two of camp, this is the entire summer.

Does the child insist on this? Really? Is there an alternative whereby you don't have to take him to the activity on your access days. Some activities are more informal than team sports so it shouldn't hurt the other children if the child shows up half the time.

I really don't know of many families who have that much free time to devote to that kind of activity. It is not like it is around the corner from your home. Also, if there are other children in the picture it is not fair to them to have to watch the activity of the other child.

If your partner is out of work, then he should be bringing a motion to reduce child support asap. In these times it would be impossible to pay obligations for yourself let alone child support based on a wage that is no longer there. Think what would happen if you paid more than you should in child support and an unforseen expense(medical, transportation, etc.) occurred and you got behind in the mortgage. It would be an unfortunate situation.
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
Is she threatening in writing to reduce your access? Is it easily recordable if it is verbal? Don't play along with her.
We record everything. If it's not in writing, it is a recorded phone conversation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
What does your access/support agreement say? If it says you must agree on expenses before they are incurred, then you don't have to. I would have a real problem with my ex forcing me to stay local and not have vacations/free time with my child because of activities planned without my consent for the child.
The court order states that the sharing of costs of extracurricular activities are to be mutually agreed upon. Therefore, it implies that if we don't agree to cover the expense, we don't have to take the child - at least that's what I assume.

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Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
State that in the summer you have lots of activities planned on your access and you do not consent to this activity. It is not like this is a week or two of camp, this is the entire summer.
We thought about that, but it just won't go well, she'll retort with demands to know why we can afford to do other activities but cannot afford to drive the child to this one activity. We just don't want to go that route unless absolutely necessary.

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Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
Does the child insist on this? Really? Is there an alternative whereby you don't have to take him to the activity on your access days. Some activities are more informal than team sports so it shouldn't hurt the other children if the child shows up half the time.
We have tried this, many times. The child just wants to play the sport. That's all. We insisted on a community centre once-per-week activity, but the bio-mom claims that's not good enough. She accuses us of deliberately trying to hurt the child by not allowing him the activities that other children take part in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
I really don't know of many families who have that much free time to devote to that kind of activity. It is not like it is around the corner from your home. Also, if there are other children in the picture it is not fair to them to have to watch the activity of the other child.
There are no other children. And I too don't understand where someone would find so much time to devote to such an activity. Especially since only a few months ago, she argued that she cannot enroll the child in extracurricular activities because she doesn't have the time to take him, and that many activities are held too late in the evening. Now she wants to sign him up for an activity that takes at least 2 hours, and that begins a half hour before the child's current bedtime. Go figure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by independentgal View Post
If your partner is out of work, then he should be bringing a motion to reduce child support asap. In these times it would be impossible to pay obligations for yourself let alone child support based on a wage that is no longer there. Think what would happen if you paid more than you should in child support and an unforseen expense(medical, transportation, etc.) occurred and you got behind in the mortgage. It would be an unfortunate situation.
We brought a motion to reduce child support a few days after he lost his job in October. We finally have our court date coming up in a couple of weeks. Hopefully they will grant a decent reduction and will somehow take into account that for the last 4 months he has been paying the current amount of child support, an amount based on an income he no longer has. But, I doubt he'll get any sort of compensation. We have overpaid in the past for a period of 2 years, and the judge just called it "a gift" and ordered arrears for the 12 months that we slightly underpaid. Gotta love the system!
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Old 02-11-2009, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
The child just wants to play the sport.
As I see it, the child is going to be the big loser here. That's not right. As for the time spent, Summer vacation allows for more time spent at games and in evening hours. For the sake of the child, you should work out a plan that doesn't involve 70% of his weekends and 1/2 the Summer with you. As the child gets older these situations are going to come up and more flexibility is called for by both parties.
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yearsgone View Post
As I see it, the child is going to be the big loser here. That's not right. As for the time spent, Summer vacation allows for more time spent at games and in evening hours. For the sake of the child, you should work out a plan that doesn't involve 70% of his weekends and 1/2 the Summer with you. As the child gets older these situations are going to come up and more flexibility is called for by both parties.
I completely agree with you. And just to clarify, we have tried to work out a more suitable summer schedule, however it is the bio-mom that is insisting on all the additional weekends. Heck, we brought it down to 70% from the 90% of weekends she originally wanted us to have.

We have zero problem enrolling the child in a more suitable program with a reasonable schedule and at a location that is workable for both families to get to. Sadly, my stepson's mom insists on the frequent practices/games (which will take place in May and June while the child is still in school) and a location close to her residence, without regard that it is at least a 1.5 hour drive one way for us.

We are willing to compromise, but if she cannot compromise with us, we are not in the position to allow for such an activity to take place. As always, we will continue to enroll the child in activities/camps that suit his interests while he is with us - as we have been doing for the past few years.
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Old 02-12-2009, 10:15 AM
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It's funny how in an intact family no-one would hestitate to say 3 hours of driving on a weekend (or on any day) is just too far.

I appreciate that #1 StepMom is doing her best to accommodate her step-son's wishes to participate in sports. Not just this particular venue/league.

When a father is out of work or on a limited budget I don't think it is wrong/mean/inappropriate to say NO to a child. Why is this a problem when parents are living separate?

Personally I don't think one parent has the right to dictate how another parent spends their access time. I don't think decreasing access is the answer either.

In #1StepMom's case the court order states the costs have to be mutually agreed upon.
What this means in actuality is that the bio Mom can sign the kid up for anything. Anywhere, anytime. Cost is no object. Fork it over. Gas expenses? So what. Dad on a limited budget. Who cares? Extra curricular's dictating how access time is going to be spent? Do it or the kid's losing out and his Dad is a real bad bama-jama.
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Old 02-12-2009, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suchislife View Post
It's funny how in an intact family no-one would hestitate to say 3 hours of driving on a weekend (or on any day) is just too far.
Isn't that true?!! What's amazing is that the bio-mom is not willing to drive even part-way, yet expects us to drive 1.5 hours one way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suchislife View Post
I appreciate that #1 StepMom is doing her best to accommodate her step-son's wishes to participate in sports. Not just this particular venue/league.
We have no problem enrolling the child in a more feasible alternative (less expensive; less often - once per week instead of 3 times per week; at an accessible location for both parties). But, the bio-mom continues to accuse us of purposely ruining the child's dreams and aspirations of becoming a "professional athlete."

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Originally Posted by Suchislife View Post
When a father is out of work or on a limited budget I don't think it is wrong/mean/inappropriate to say NO to a child. Why is this a problem when parents are living separate?
I don't understand this either. We have been telling the bio-mom over and over that we can barely afford the costs of the program, not to mention the travel expenses associated with it. Yet, she continues to accuse us of ruining the child's dreams.

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Originally Posted by Suchislife View Post
Personally I don't think one parent has the right to dictate how another parent spends their access time. I don't think decreasing access is the answer either.
I agree with that too. Unfortunately, the bio-mom reiterates what our last judge said in our court case 2 years ago... that the parties should try and be accommodating of the child's activities whenever possible. Sadly, the bio-mom chose to interpret this as us having to give up time and make additional trips so that the child can attend extracurricular activities of her choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suchislife View Post
]In #1StepMom's case the court order states the costs have to be mutually agreed upon. What this means in actuality is that the bio Mom can sign the kid up for anything. Anywhere, anytime. Cost is no object. Fork it over. Gas expenses? So what. Dad on a limited budget. Who cares? Extra curricular's dictating how access time is going to be spent? Do it or the kid's losing out and his Dad is a real bad bama-jama.
Yuppers! She is more than welcome to sign the child up for whatever she wants. But if we did not consent to it in advance, we are not going to help cover the costs, nor are we going to take the child to the activity. Especially since we simply cannot afford to do so. The way my husband and I see it... it's better the child have a roof over his head than be part of a sports league.

I have a feeling this will be another issue brought up at our next court date in a few weeks time. We'll let her bring it up. Because I don't think that we are the ones being unreasonable, and so she can look silly in front of the judge with such unreasonable demands.

What I had to laugh about is most is... in her last email she wrote: "Maybe you should consider moving closer to your son so that you do not continue ruining his life by not wanting to enrol him and take him to extracurricular activities." Right... like she is one to dictate where we live. She's the one that moved farther away from us, and did so without our consent! Ha!
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Old 02-12-2009, 02:56 PM
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ouch...I feel for you
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:36 PM
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Hi Stepmom,

I am in my early thirties and a mom of two vey young kids (3 and 5) .I had a very nasty marriage followed by a nestier separation.If by God grace I am in a second relationship and ever be a stepmom then you will be my ROLE MODEL.What you think or are willing to do for your Step child I wish even half of that my ex can do for his own kids..
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:55 PM
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I'm sure what I am saying is echoed (for the most part), but being a CP I believe that your step-son's bio mom is being very unreasonable, and I do hope that you bring forth this matter in court as well, add her emails to the pile in which she claims you are ruining the child's life for being realistic about the costs involved in what she is trying to force upon you.
Best of luck!
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