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Joint custody, cooperative parenting, travel?

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  • Joint custody, cooperative parenting, travel?

    New to the form and like everyone here, would like some advice or a different perspective.

    My situation, presently joint custody with a separation agreement, no lawyers at this point and I hope to keep it that way….but.

    In mid October, I was advised by my ex that his parent wanted to take him and our 2 boys to Florida as a Christmas gift. His parents are retired and will be in Florida from mid December to mid February. I advised him that I have no issues with the trip but want to minimize the boys days off school (both are in a new school, both have learning disabilities) and that we should both look at options that are best for all.

    The next day I sent him by e-mail with 2 weeks, yes in my point of view that would be best…minimum days off school... (One option has a p.d. day) and kept minimum days that boys will be away from mom to 8 and gave up 3 parental days. All I got back was “I’ll let you know before I book.” 2 weeks later I asked about what was happening with the trip and was advised not sure yet still looking at weeks….5 weeks went by with me asking every week and still the same response.

    Finally, I was told that the flights were booked and this is when we are going….no looking at what is best for school, no consultation on parental days with mom no information address information or contact info, no flight info nothing! So I sent back an e-mail stating that this was not cooperative parenting and that I will not give parental consent.

    I know some of you will give me back lash on this but FYI, ex tried this in the summer…sent e-mail in morning and was leaving that afternoon…..“Going to my grandmother’s birthday party, taking kids be back on such a date”….taking them over 2 parental days with mom without consent. I happen to check my e-mails that morning and called him immediately! I advised him that this is not appropriate and that anytime that each parent has with the kids is their time. It is not to be taken over by the other parent without consent. Being it was over the summer, I advised him he could take them and from that point on he must get consent as indicated in our separation agreement from me and I’m to do the same.

    So when I told him he did not have my consent to take them to Florida, I got a nasty e-mail threatening e-mail…..If you wish to go down this road it will be a dark one. You can forget about me signing papers for any trip you would like to take in the future if you continue down this vengeful road.

    I told him why would you book this without parental consent? Why did you tell your parents and work of the dates and not work out something with the other parent first?

    On my last e-mails I gave him the breakdown as he asked me what was wrong with his week and sent him the following breakdown of all weeks:

    His week : 6 and can be up to 8 days out school, 11 days away from mom, 5 parental days taken away from them.

    Both weeks suggested by mom….4-5 days off school, 8 days away from mom, 3 parental days.

    We made a trip to Florida 2 years ago…so children have been, his parents are retired; they live locally and see the children frequently. (2yrs ago stable in school, boys had parents at 100%) ...things have changes since then.

    I have stated to him throughout the back and forth e-mails….the trip, is not in contention it is the dates of the trip, the fact that there was no cooperative parenting and no respect of parental time.

    I don’t want to give in as I see this as setting a precedence… time in school and with mom no value.

    I was reasonable with the request…trip is to be in January and I sent in my 2 suggested weeks end of October. He was asked what was wrong with my suggested weeks and he never replied.

    On my last e-mails I told him, pick one of the 2 option or seek mediation……he got back with I will seek mediation. It’s been a 10 days and I haven’t heard from him since. His Christmas celebration with his family is on the 22 and I’m worried he tells the kids that they were to go to Florida but mom won’t let them….this is not true because the trip is not the issue it’s the time from school and their time away from mom.
    I’m seeing a lawyer Monday to get counsel prior to mediation, if ever scheduled by ex and from other issues that he has now pursuing.
    Clauses from separation agreement states we must get permission from other custodial parent for any travel….and clause bellow…to which he has not been doing.
    Both parties agree to consult each other frequently by telephone, in person or by correspondence to mutually agree as to the general health and welfare, education and development of our children.
    Any suggestions on what should be the next step?

  • #2
    So you agree that he take kids on a trip, but you want to have a control over it? In my opinion, what oyu did is not reasonable. There are many factors to consider when booking a trip, maybe dates that you suggest are not good for his parents, maybe he can't take vacation on those days. In my opinion it just seems a bit too controling. You want your kids to go or not. If you are worried about your parental time, ask for make up days. And keep in mind that you are doing this for you kids not your ex. Your kids will have fun on that trip, even if you are not there with them.


    • #3
      Do you have a dispute resolution clause in your agreement?

      If so, what does it say?


      • #4
        What does your agreement provide for vacation? If it provides that each parent gets a few weeks vacation during the year, than each parent would be entitled to determine when they take their vacation. Does your agreement provide that any vacation periods be mutually agreed upon?

        IMO, too much fluff, not enough reasoned thinking.

        The cost of travel for the dates you provided may have been substantially higher then the dates he chose. I don't know the dates suggested or chosen, but if the dates you suggested are around normal vacation periods, the costs are normally quite a bit more. So it may be more cost efficient to go on the choosen dates.

        The lost parenting time.....if the agreement provides that he is entitled to vacation, and that vacation overrides the regular parenting schedule....well....unfortunately you are SOL. However, you are likely entiteld to make the same decisions if your agreement is worded as such. If your agreement does not provide for vacation time during the winter (maybe just summer) what you should be doing is requesting makeup time at the earliest opportunity (preferrably before they leave).

        You are entitled to a detailed itinerary which provides flight dates/numbers, contact details (phone numbers) and addresses. He should provide that in advance of leaving.

        The missed days of school, is it 6 or 8? You say can be 8, but start with 6? Unless the childrens grade will be damaged beyond repair, I don't see an issue with having them out of school. You also don't mention the age of kids. I mean, if they are 6-7, missing a week of grade 1-2 isn't going to kill their acedemic career. Missing a week of grade 8 is more significant, but he may be able to talk to the teachers and get the assignments and chapters being studied and deal with them down south.

        The "days away from mom" is more about you and your views. I doubt the kids will suffer greatly frmo being away with their other parent for that long. They likely have done it before, like summer vacation.

        Edit - Overall, the only real issue I see here is the lack of the detailed itinerary and that makeup time hasn't been discussed. Schooling can be dealt with by talking to the teachers. Your issue with them being away from you is more about you. Also, not knowing what your agreement says, it is hard to say anything else.
        Last edited by HammerDad; 12-14-2012, 12:26 PM.


        • #5
          I think the main issue is missing that much school. Your time with the kids can be made up. If they are going to miss that much school I think it should be up to him to work with the schools and teachers to ensure the kids can do extra credit and make up any work they might miss. It's kind of tricky these days. So many teachers won't do any extra work because of all the politics going on. I have heard of many teachers refusing to provide extra credit work. The question is are your kids doing well enough in class that they can miss eight days of school and not significantly drop. I wouldn't feel comfortable refusing the trip. At the same time who will pay the price if the children struggle in school when they return? Will he be held responsible to pay for Kumon or some other needed help if the children need to catch up?


          • #6
            I do not doubt your sincerity at all. Even when living as a family these issues came up but an even medium was sought between parents.

            I feel compelled to address this issue only because I have dealt with it this year in almost the exact same circumstances. The difference between you and myself is that I took it upon myself to contact the inlaws respecting the trip (and I am not criticizing you here). We ended up coming up with a mutual agreement notwithstanding the ex wanting to be an ass (which his parents acknowledged).

            Flights are booked, this is when we are going........ that would crank my motor as well. The fact that he stated he would inform you before he booked speaks to his personality. But you have to work within that.

            The issue at this time is THIS - your children are scheduled to go on an incredible trip and it has not worked with your schedule. I get that your children have learning disabilities - in the future can this maybe your focus versus TIME? I find it bothersome that you wonder about money spent for tutoring before something has happened. But that is just me.

            You may not see it this way but the rest of us will: control is the issue. You gave their father 2 options versus mediation. Not, "here is what I suggest, can you think of something better?". And so he has now booked flights in retaliance to you. Neither of you are the better parent, but you can be a good parent by working with this now. You have plenty of time to work things with the school to make sure that your children can have not only an amazing experience personally, but an incredible experience educationally.

            As for using the teachers dispute? The teachers have opted to not do extracurricular activities, which is not related to your issue and if you think it is, you best be a better advocate for your children - any teacher will tell you that your familial issue is not relevant to their dispute and will most likely bend over backwards to show that and accomodate your childrens' absence.

            I understand why you want to work through this with your ex - I also get where he was coming from. When you give him a defensive mechanism he will respond back in the same way; I can hardly blame him.

            Do everything within your power to work with him; do everything now to work with him and the school. Don't let this ruin your Xmas with the kids. The kids deserve both parents working with each other - if HE can't, you CAN.


            • #7
              A few facts: boys 10 and 12 with learning disabilities last trip hired a tutor for 3 months to get them back on track…

              12 yrs old in special education program set by Ottawa U…Offered to 20 kids per year for this special education program…based on child’s level of difficulties= high

              Father since school has started signed off for non completion of homework 10 times in the first 2 months of school….its ok you don’t have to do all your homework, dad will just put a note….you don’t need to learn how to be responsible.

              Father had no consideration for any plans that other parent may have during that time.

              No dates were given when first spoke about trip…was advised not oppose to trip but must consider what is best for boy’s education….

              This is the second time father does this. First time was advised that you just don’t cut and go with the boys, process was set then and agreed upon by both parents...Why can one parent followed the agreed upon process and the other not?

              Base on some of the advice given, I decide to hire a lawyer to send an official letter stating that once you meet the conditions, signed permission will be granted. It was either say no out right and start a war or put conditions in place and allow for the trip to happen.

              Here are the conditions:

              1- 15 x1 hour tutoring session for each boy at the expense of the father
              2- Contact school and work out a plan…(this was done on last trip and ½ homework was completed….this is a try to get some done so they are not so behind upon return)
              3- Original copy of plane tickets, adress of lodging and a phone number
              4- Passports to be return upon completion of trip
              5- Make up days for children’s parental time with mom specific dates indicated
              6- Summer vacation bookings added as we did not have this in the separation agreement, 2 weeks alternating years of choice.
              7- Pre-approval of time for both parents making request to have children…this is to insure that the education of the children is considered, for respect of other parent’s possible plans during their time so no conflicts occur.

              Since then other concerns have come up…Father allowing the 12 yr old to drive in a busy parking lot with his brother in the back seat. Father sending the 10 yrs old to start his car in his apartment parking lot that is not secure and faces out on a busy strip. Son did not turn on car correctly….he stayed on car all by himself to the point were the car needed to be boosted when father showed up. Anyone could have come along, jump in the car and take off. Father was called and advised that both situations are never to happen again.

              Some of you think I’m controlling but I have my reasons to be so cautious…our kids are our most precious resource and should be treated that way.

              Thank you all for your feed back on this. I will keep this updated on the outcome of the trip.


              • #8
                Controlling the other parent is not cooperative parenting.

                In your original post to stated to your ex that you had NO ISSUE with the father bringing the children on a trip. In the second post you state the father had NO CONSIDERATION of YOUR plans. What plans exactly did you have if at first you had no issue with it?

                Also in your original post you stated that you had an agreement in place and nowhere does it indicate that he was not following it, but in the second post you mention that this is not the first time he has done this and he did not follow the agreement. Would it not follow that when he asked to have the children for a holiday you would remind him to follow the agreement and not state "you have no issue with it"?

                Many of the "conditions" placed are a normal part of an agreement, which you have and yours obviously was not properly drafted. Inserting new clauses by demand is not an agreement. You don't want lawyers involved (first post)? You don't want war (second post)? And then you have a lawyer draft a letter making demands? The only person who has involved lawyers and created war is you. At the rate this is going it will be a judge making the orders and I can assure you it won't be all that you want it to be.

                I have no idea what part of the agreement he apparently has not followed but be prepared for this to become costly. If this was me I would not hesitate to fight back and if the children subsequently do not go on the trip because of these new demands which were not a part of your original agreement, to ask that those trip expenses be reimbursed PLUS my costs. I am not trying to be harsh but to warn you what you may be up against.

                You need to let some things go. To mention his "irresponsible" ways after the fact and note that you had to call him to tell him things won't happen again speaks volumes of the level of control you attempt to continue to have on him. Does it not occur to you that his actions of ignoring you are a direct result of what you do? I can assure you I would simply hang up the phone if my ex EVER attempted to tell me what will and will not happen when the children are in my care.

                My nine year old starts my car for me every day in the winter. He also plays street hockey ON THE STREET no less. He has never driven my car though cause I like to be in control


                • #9
                  Remember this, not all situations are the same, not all agreements are the same and it’s very hard to put every single detail in a post…I really don’t want to be here forever on this.

                  I’ve tried some of the advice above…reached out in an non defensive way to see if we can agree mitigate issue…to work out a plan for school….got nowhere.

                  So tell me what am I to do, not respecting term of the agreement over and over? When do you say enough is enough?

                  The tutoring, contacting the school…I don’t see anything wrong with this? This is what was done 2 yrs ago when we did a similar trip…so not out of the ordinary…I not just pulling this out of thin air. AS for make makeup time…I’m giving a heads up right up font of the dates…so no surprises…4 months in advance! There was a miss in the agreement and some are being address by the letter…he can come back with his own requests in his reply too.

                  Tell me what to do when he makes choices like letting a 12yrs old drive or having a kid site in a car waiting to the point that once dad gets to the car it so drained…over a half hour…so long that he had to get the car booted…He sat alone.. he did not go out start the care then back in( to which I have no issues) he was told to stay in the car till he dad came out….not with a group of friends play ball hockey or in the park where other kids can tell go for help if something happens!

                  My thoughts on this are…if I say nothing and something happens I could not live with myself. I’m not telling him how to feed or cloth them or how to discipline the boys…and for the whole homework not being done…I haven’t said anything about the to him…because the teacher addressed this in the parent teacher meeting I sat and made no comment when she spoke of it…it was better to leave the teacher to say.


                  • #10
                    I drove the car on my dads lap and around provincial parks as far back as when I was 6y/o. We had the whole family in the suburban (7 people, with 5 children 12 and under). It isn't something out of the ordinary and if dad is close enough to assist (throw the car in neutral and grab the wheel) there is likely little harm in it...... Personally, I can't see this as an issue and certainly not something I would ever bring up as a concern. All he'd have to do if the judge found an issue with it is promise never to do it again, and that is the last you'd hear about it.

                    The starting the car issue.....that's kinda funny....and again, a non-issue. The fact that he needed a boost because the boy didn't start it right is his own fault. I can't see where the significant chance of harm coming to the child test would fit in this one whatsoever.

                    The schooling can be dealt with over time. But be prepared to get some flack from both the ex and possibly the judge. Your demands are essentially ultimatums. No one likes them.

                    I do hope your ex works with you on the schooling and parenting time matters, because everything else is irrelevent.


                    • #11
                      Yes, I will say some of the items on the list are irrelevant….I didn’t get to this point overnight. All our situations have history. Yes, I’m miffed about time with mom but I will get over it.

                      I want the kids to go and right from the start wanted to work on this for school…. I asked every week for five 5 weeks what the possible dates where and he kept on stalling…when I sent the suggested weeks he said he would send me the week he wanted before doing the official booking…did not do that! It was so we can make sure school was ok.

                      Some details on my situation….may explain my frustration…

                      I asked for an extension on Thanksgiving weekend and was told be back by 2pm…after him being 30 min. late I had to call him to see if he was on his way …arrived 1 and a half late! This is how it has been every time….late with no call or call with excuse given for why he will be late.

                      So it’s ok for me to follow the process we agreed upon but he can just ignore it?

                      I have not set any rules for the trip itself…what they can and cannot do on the trip… this is in anyway my business or place. His parents are to go with them so there is at the least 2 adults with good judgement with them. I have the obligation to insure their education, as for safety all in the context of the place and time….we could years ago do lots of things, we can’t do now. Times have changed and not every neighbour is the same.

                      I would expect him to tell me when I do something that is not in the best interest of the boys. I may not like it but I have sucked it up in the past and learned…that what you do.

                      Yes, I’m miffed and mad…I have to make sure all of this is done because he can’t be responsible….and that what sucks. This is the guys that quit his job with a 2 and a half year old and 6 months old because he needed to find himself. He got another job after being pushed by wife (me) and 3 months later was fired. I had to return to work early from mat leave and work tons of overtime to support the family. Having to nickel and dime everything....worked like this the last 8 of the 11 years of marriage….missing out on time with my kids to make sure they had all they need. I’ve had to put up with years of temper tantrums when EX did not get his way and I just would give in to everything do not have to deal with him...I had it at the end and had a burn out. This was not good for the boys…..not a good example or environment…so here we are separated. I was reluctant on joint custody but thought that this was best for the boys…I’m pissed that I have to be responsible but I can’t expect him this to change. So if controlling means keeping an eye out for the best interest of kids at time where he won’t then so be it.


                      • #12
                        I totally get the frustration. I bet the majority of us here do! I've been in your shoes and continue to be in your shoes but I have to let most, if not all of the crap roll off my back. For example, the last timewe exchanged the kids he called in the morning frantic asking if I could meet him an hour earlier. Not a problem, I showed up at the newly scheduled time and he ended up being a hour later than the usual time - meant I sat and waited for over two hours. We have been separated for four years now and the only time exchange has ever been "on time" was when he had his father come to pick up the kids. To this day I continue to show up at the scheduled time and use my spare time to enjoy those last few chapters of my book in peace. I no longer get frustrated at something I know is going to happen.

                        And I have no doubt he has done some irresponsible things. If the ex and I continued to fight about this stuff we would still be decking it out and CAS would probably have the kids cause no judge would think we should have em cause we can't resolve our issues.

                        And yes, you do continue to follow the agreement even if he doesn't - simply because YOU are a better person. If you don't, you simply stoop down to his level and become as responsible as he is.

                        I mentioned in my previous post that I am a control freak. To deny it would be to bury my head in the sand. But the greatest gift someone ever gave to me was to get me to surrender. Let things happen. Don't make them happen. When I stopped giving the ex the "speech" about being late, irresponsible blah blah blah, exchanges worked so much better, not only for us, but most of all for the children (who no longer have to deal with a pissed off Mom).


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