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arguing for sole custody

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  • #16
    Originally posted by engineer View Post

    Probably not worth it to push the custody issue. I already make the decisions on the kids. I am more worried about him throwing in monkey wrenches needlessly over time just because he can.

    He indicated in his answer to my application that wanted me to have primary residence and him secondary with liberal and generous access, including overnight visits in the future, but would take me as primary with liberal and generous access as an alternative.

    My youngest does not want to stay with him overnight - and no I did not ask her this she volunteered it. She has a few friends with separated parents so she has seen what others do. She is getting old enough to have a say in this. Besides, she is soon to be a teenager, and that brings a host of changes in behaviour.

    I am looking for the table values, based on line 150 for both kids, plus extraordinary expenses for post-secondary, orthodontics, etc. I will cover the extracurricular costs for my youngest out of my operating budget.

    He is the only father the oldest has ever known - he has been in the picture since she was 3 and we moved in together when she was 4. He claimed her on his taxes, referred to her as his daughter on his benefits, referred to her as his daughter to friends and family, listed himself as a guardian with the school board, etc etc. He acted as no less a father to her than he did to the youngest, and in many respects, he was more actively involved with her in the 4 years before the youngest was born than he ever was with the youngest. Everyone - schools, neighbours, friends - assumed that he was the father of both kids. You would not be able to distinguish parentage of these kids based on his actions. He never referred to her as a step-daughter, just his daughter, until after we separated.

    I agree that my time is best spent on the financial aspects. Those are generally much more amenable to analysis, and it is more obvious as to what should be included and what shouldn't be. I haven't spent a lot of time discussing support issues with my lawyer, as I figure that is based on the tables and he knows more about this than I do.

    I haven't spent much legal time discussing custody, either. I can see how that can get way out of control. I just posted this hoping that there was a list of document types that I should include with my brief.

    So the consensus is that going for sole custody could be long, costly, painful, and not worth it. Unless the ex capitulates quickly, I will agree to joint with liberal and generous access.
    I think you have taken a good look at your situation and are moving in the right direction. I guess you just needed to rant. We have all done that and then we are pulled back into reality with a sharp tug from the experienced " wise ones" on the forum.

    For your 20 year old you might want to calculate cost of schooling and ask for a contribution towards it based on income.

    Good luck with the financials. In my experience if you have all the documentation and proof for your financials sorted out and presented clearly and fairly your ex, who seems to be lacking in this department, will have a hard time disputing any claims you put forward. I doubt if he kept much of a paper trail.


    • #17
      Originally posted by engineer View Post

      Actually, the 12 year old hasn't expressed a desire to see him. She sees him when he avails himself and I can get her there. She is happy enough to go along with it, but I don't see her instigating plans. He came by the other day to pick up some stuff and I had to go upstairs to get her to come down and say hello.
      Oh sorry I thought you had said she was interested in seeing her Dad because some of friends visit their Dads on the weekends. You did say she was not interested in overnights.


      • #18
        Originally posted by DowntroddenDad View Post
        Custody and Access are two different issues.

        Custody is about decision making. You have to prove he isn't competent to make parenting decisions, most of which would be joint decisions with you anyway. You haven't presented anything relevent to that.
        Competency and interest are two completely different things. Your ex may be perfectly 100% capable of making a parenting decision of any kind. It doesn't mean that they won't stall the decision-making process to the point where it's hurting the child. Just because they are capable, doesn't make them reasonable. A bad ex can make joint custody a complete nightmare.

        I've just waited over a week to hear back from the disinterested ex with joint custody on braces for our daughter. And the answer. "I do not have the funds for this. It is not necessary." I only wonder if he brushed his permanent retainer and looked at his old braces when he typed his well-thought out and considerate response? He hasn't seen the child in over 2 years and is 2500km away, so he's pretty much the expert on what she needs and doesn't need.

        I think the OP is a little stunned by a sudden interest from a formerly disinterested party. She equates this to his new marriage, I'm sure that's down to timing. If X happens at the same time as Y, one can connect those dots quite easily.


        • #19
          you do realize that most likely your ex will argue that the dad of the 20yr old should be paying support etc for that child/adult? Just something you should prepare for.


          • #20
            OP you will have your work cut out for you with the financials but I'm sure you're up to the task.

            Many people don't have the analytical skill set to present the documentation in a logical, concise manner.

            Remember to instruct your lawyer - not the other way around. Do not give the lawyer free reign to write letters on your behalf. Make sure the lawyer provides you with a detailed monthly invoice.

            Focus on the process and perhaps ask your lawyer for an outline so you have an idea of the steps and time-line.


            • #21
              So custody is shared, good!

              Child Support.
              -20yr old is entitled to CS as long as in full-time school
              -12yr old too
              -univ fees are payable in prop to ur incomes

              Assuming you prove loco parentis (did they call him dad, did he discipline them etc... might be interesting to approach it comparatively)

              Arrears to collect


              -based on what you have said you have a compensatory claim to SS even if you are currently independant since you sacrificed for the family unit.
              -I would suggest you try to justify how much you lost out due to ur family
              -you can ask for a mnthly amount for X # of months (since you are already independant a term is reasonable)
              -you can also ask for a lump sum which would NOT be taxable to you nor tax deductible to him you can get that by taking the total monthly amounts and reducing by 35%

              -if I were you I would ENCOURAGE your daughter to see her father so long as he game and she is comfortable. You are obligated to encourage contact. She is 12 so she will determine things in a few years anyways and he has another family he prob won't pursue.
              50/50 is not the default, status quo is the default and the best interest of the kids


              • #22
                I am answering a few points made by a few posters.

                I was widowed shortly after the oldest was born.

                Both kids called him dad. The youngest only just learned that her sister is a half sister. We just never got around to telling her we had both been previously married. He disciplined both - more the older than the younger, but some of that is related to their relative ages. Teenagers tend to garner a lot more negative attention than do their younger siblings.

                I do encourage both kids to talk with him. Sounds morbid, but I explained to the oldest that should something happen to me, she would be sorry that she alienated herself from him. I remind the youngest to answer his texts when he sends them.

                I fear the situation that Ms Mom has - the ex just saying no because he can. His primary tool for any kind of discussion was to refuse to participate when we were together, so I can only imagine it will be worse now that we aren't.

                It appears that he wants joint custody more for appearances than anything else. He has not indicated that he wants scheduled access at all.

                The only reason I brought up his new wife was because he chose to be with her over his kids since he met her in 2010. I have gone through the travel dates, recovered digital images, chat logs, etc, etc. No doubt, he was an absentee father as much by choice as anything else. I get that he wanted split from me and I am well past that. The kids were collateral damage, and that is inexcusable.

                I am going for SS as well. My career has suffered, and it is unlikely that I will completely recover. I made sacrifices for the benefit of his career. I would prefer a lump sum payment but we will see what we can negotiate. He is in his late fifties, so once her retires, if he even can, I will out-earn him for about 5 years simply because I am younger and will remain in the workforce.

                I would like CS for both kids, including section 7 items, based on line 150 of his return. I would like arrears at least back to August 2013, because I started actively pursuing CS at that time. I hear conflicting accounts of whether you can realistically get retroactive CS, so we will see how it goes and I will take what I can get.


                • #23
                  You are obviously a math person, and it sounds like your ex is more of a feelings person. You may find When Math People and Feelings People Negotiate - High Conflict Institute a very useful read.

                  Being a fact-driven engineer is all well and good, but court doesn't work that way. Both sides present a judge with what they want (facts), provide excerpts from legal precedents to support their argument (more facts), and whoever has the most eloquent lawyer usually wins (how pretty the spreadsheet is). Sometimes a certain judge just likes things set up a certain way.

                  Before you get to that point though, you might be able to convince your ex to negotiate with you and come to an agreement without court. You need to figure out his golden apple, and figure out a way to get close enough to it that he will accept yours.

                  I hope I've encapsulated well here:

                  • He wants joint custody so he doesn't look bad, and you want sole custody to make you and your child's lives easier.
                  • He wants reasonable and liberal access to the younger child, but not a spelled out schedule. You want to not force her to take unwanted overnights.
                  • You want SS because of the damage to your career while you built up his. He probably won't want to pay it.
                  • You want CS and section 7 for both children, because he was essentially a father to the older step-child as well as the younger child. He will likely want to only pay for the biological child.
                  • You want him to pay you back your share of the joint money (you have closed all joint accounts by now, right?) he took from behind your back to pay off a personal debt.

                  There's probably a lot more you can determine about each of these categories based on how well you know him.

                  Look on the sliding scale of each of these items, and decide where you would be willing to budge and where you absolutely won't. Then use one area to balance another.

                  I'll start with the custody thing as that's where your thread has spent the most time so far.

                  It sounds like you want sole custody because you believe your ex would not make good decisions on behalf of the child, out of disinterest or inability to engage in discussion with you. Could you prove that in court? Is there a documented history of you having difficulty getting important things decided because he was uncooperative or antagonistic? Have you got records of opportunities being missed? How have you dealt with these situations in the past? Would you be able to keep doing it? Some people with joint custody deal with uncooperative exes by giving them a deadline, and making it clear that they will take non-response as assent. The way you describe it, joint custody is very important to him. Technically, he has joint custody right now. How has it been working out? Unless you can point to specific documented failures, he would probably win in court. So use this as his apple, since you wouldn't be giving up anything you probably wouldn't lose in court, as noted by previous posters. If he'll agree to CS for the older child and section 7 for tuition, you'll go along with joint custody, for example.

                  Offer to lower your request for SS from mid amount to low amount or whatever in exchange for getting back the joint money he spent. Etc. It's all about negotiation.


                  • #24
                    Thanks. I am indeed a math person. Probably the mathiest engineer that doesn't work in academia. My ex is also an engineer, but he is a bit foggy when it comes to data. He is not a feeling person at all, he lacks empathy. Most people describe him as cold, to be honest.

                    Other than that, you have pretty much got it right. I only focused this on the custody right now because the financials are easier to communicate as they are numbers based. I have good records and lots of supporting documents.

                    My lawyer said the same thing as you said - although we can go for sole custody and have a decent argument, it would come at a cost. We can let him have joint custody in exchange for something else, and the truth is I will be making the decisions anyway because the primary residence will be with me.

                    At first, he said he would of course provide CS for both kids. Then he saw the tables. He is trying to get from under supporting the oldest for the cost. I can see that, and of course he will try whatever he thinks might work. This will be tough, though. He has been her dad for many years.

                    I have loads of history showing antagonism and failure to cooperate. Since he was away for much of the last three years, we sent emails much more frequently than we would have normally - time difference, etc made having long conversations where decisions had to be made more difficult over the phone. Note that on occasion, I would acquiesce to his opinion to keep the peace, if whatever we were talking about wasn't life threatening anyway. Mostly, important things for the kids didn't get missed because I would take an executive decision based on the facts that were in front of me and I was the only parent there to decide. I could keep doing this, no problem. Most of life's major decisions - religion and education planning - were made long ago. Neither of us would withhold medical or dental treatment.

                    I would also rather have unscheduled access over constantly having to reschedule. My youngest is nearly 13, and I already coordinate her growing social schedule with everything else. I do go to some lengths to accommodate him when he is available.

                    You have a good idea on lowering SS to get back the money he spent and he might just go for it.

                    One advantage I do have is that he has no idea of the amount of data I have uncovered. When I said in my first post that he hadn't told me he had married and brought his wife to Canada I wasn't indignant - the point was that he had no idea I knew about any of it. He has just learned that the life he kept secret for so long was not so well concealed, after all. Once I knew about this other relationship and went through the accounts, I started digging. Only then did I realise that the problem wasn't finding things, it was organising the masses of data that were uncovered. It was at once staggering and oddly reassuring - at this point, I could wrap my head around where the money went.

                    Am I pissed off about the betrayal? Not so much. I feel more betrayed by the fact that I thought he was a lot smarter than this.

                    He hasn't disclosed his marriage on his Affidavit for Joint Custody and he hasn't disclosed the significant debts he had prior to cohabitation (I have the hard copies). As a result of his failure to disclose, we will be asking for all documents related to the loan made by his employer, his expense reports, and other documents related to his travels. He won't want to go to the finance and legal department to get those, so this will be an onerous task. My lawyer indicated that many people settle simply because they don't want to get the documents. The purpose of the case conference, for me, apart from getting a start on sorting the CS and SS, is to force him to wake up, face what he has spent, and return the funds to the line of credit. (That is the only remaining joint account.) I am really trying to avoid court.

                    Wasn't going to go into the loan in this thread. I have loads of other financial issues that may go into other threads, we'll see. Like I said, the financial arguments are a little easier to communicate - dates, transactions, assets, debts.


                    • #25
                      Is the joint account now closed?

                      So you tally everything up and present it to him with your notice of motion. In your notice of motion you list specific demands for the information you require. You make sure that there is a deadline date for him to provide the information. The sooner the better.

                      I see too many people making the mistake of bouncing requests for disclosure back and forth with no deadlines. I would therefore recommend that every request you make is filed in court. Don't waste time on mere letter writing back and forth.

                      Hit hard and hit fast. 30 days is more than enough time for him to get his documentation in order.

                      Meanwhile, while the clock is ticking, you can entertain offers to settle.


                      • #26
                        The line of credit is still around, he maxed it out just before we split. No other accounts are joint.

                        I love your thinking on the "hard and fast" approach, and I absolutely plan to hit him with everything at once under a deadline. My ex tends to deal with issues singly; he can't cope if he has several things running in parallel and he doesn't do well with a ticking clock.

                        I hear what many posters say about lawyers wanting to drive up the costs, but mine really has been very good about identifying issues that are not worth pursuing. He recommends driving towards settlement and to focus on the issues we can absolutely demonstrate through documentation and records.

                        In the original post I was only looking for what kinds of things I would need for justifying sole custody in order to get it sorted quickly and at low cost. The status quo isn't going to change regardless of whether it is sole or joint because the ex isn't going to change. I wish he would take more of an active interest in the kids, and had he done so when we were together, we probably wouldn't be where we are now. It was an ongoing subject of discussion, and I tried every approach imaginable. I admit I was a little taken aback by the hostility this question garnered.


                        • #27
                          IN MY BIASED OPINION, once they put their boots under someone else's bed the old family is soon but a memory.

                          In my opinion, it usually comes down to money. Of course "best interests of the child" is paramount in the process.
                          Last edited by arabian; 02-20-2014, 01:00 PM. Reason: Clarification that statement is merely my biassed opinion


                          • #28
                            I do not think its hostility. It enthusiasm from passionate parents. Also new posts often leave out information and the as the thread unfolds everyone understands and things calm down. Of course there are always forum members who love a argument!


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by arabian View Post
                              Once they put their boots under someone else's bed the old family is soon but a memory.

                              In my opinion, it usually comes down to money. Of course "best interests of the child" is paramount in the process.
                              That's a pretty wide paint brush you're using there.


                              • #30
                                I think many people react strongly to the words "sole custody", because that's often tossed around by parents who just really want to stick it to the other party. It's now clear that that's not why you were interested.

                                I like the idea of dropping or reducing SS in exchange for him paying back the line of credit - SS is often subjective and emotional (how do you fairly compensate someone for a marriage that went bad?) while the LOC is pretty black-and-white - the money is missing, he took it out, he needs to put it back. You would probably see the money quicker that way if you tried to realize it through an SS claim.

                                I also like the idea of holding out joint custody as something that you are willing to negotiate on, in exchange for some of the items on your wish list. As one of the other posters said, you know that you're probably going to end up with joint custody no matter what, so you might as well see what you can get for it. If your ex thinks that getting joint custody represents some sort of big victory, he may be willing to trade some other things for it so he can feel like he "won".


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