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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-27-2010, 05:30 PM
needhelp2 needhelp2 is offline
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Default Can Mother Refuse ANY Visitation? (Not Separated Yet)

Hello,

I hope this is the right place to post. This question is not for myself but a close family member of mine.

My cousin is not sure what he should do right now. Him and his wife are more or less partners in parenting and have two children together (about 5). They focus on the kids and do everything together (as in both parents will take the kids to soccer, doctors, school etc together) so technically speaking they both care for the children equally. He is also usually home right after work, rarely goes out with friends or something (if he does it might be once or twice a month) he is very kids-oriented.

He has been having doubts about their relationship for a while and did talk to her about half a year ago and tried to work on things but basically they have a pretty platonic marriage at this point. Then he suggested counseling and his wife flipped and pretty much refused to hear anything that. After a couple attempts to reason with her (to work on things or to just talk about what might happen in the future) she threatened that if he ever left he would not get anything.

He is unhappy with the relationship (and since her threats, he's really seen a different side of her. Apparently each time he tries to have a talk with her, she shuts him down right away) but he feels like he has to stay in the relationship just for the kids. Obviously not being able to see them again is not an option of course. I am really hoping I can give him some positive advices and I've read that normally the judge will grant joint custody and the min. visitation is usually at least granted. However what happens if the mother refuses to work out a separation/visitation agreement? if he seeks legal advice, will she be forced to give reasonable arrangement in terms of visitation or could she flat out say that if he wants to separate, no visitation for him?

He is hoping if they separate, they can be civil and not have to get so ugly in court. Even if he has a good chance to get joint custody in force, he wishes to maintain an ok relationship for the kids' sake. There is absolutely no abuse in the relationship, and he is also always there for whatever events they're doing including doctors', and his work schedule also allows him to stay home with the kids when school's off, I know he can probably get reasonable access IF it goes to the court, but I think in an ideal world we're hoping she'd be reasonable prior to that.

I believe she is a good mother, and both of them are stable financially, but he is definitely capable of being a good father as well. He isn't thinking of sole custody but as long as he can get reasonable visits he will be happy with it. Right now he's just stressed about her threats and I'm sad to see him depressed and telling me his only choice is to stay even if he is utterly unhappy with her (he's happy if he's with the kids)

Any opinions/suggestions?
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:16 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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Custody is joint unless/untill a court order or notarized agreement says otherwise. In no case can a parent deny access to the other parent unless there is some kind of physical danger to the children.

Prior to separation it would be wise for your friend to spend as much time with the children as possible, especially in ways that can be documented. Volunteer on school trips or in the classroom a couple of times a month. Take them to lessons, sports etc. Take them to doctor and dentist. Make sure all of the teachers and coaches and doctors know him by name. If he already does this, do it more. When the children are sick, make sure to take days off work to care for them and make sure the days can be documented. It may mean a loss of income or other adjustments to lifestyle but it is important to be able to show, not just claim, that he is an involved parent.

Prior to separation be sure to track the family budget, get copies of all statements, bills for several months. Get copies of all assets in the spouse's name if possible in case they try to hide things later.

If possible, separate while still able to live in the family home. Have a separate room for sleeping with a lock on the door. Make sure all joint accounts are closed or frozen. Untangle financially immediately. If the spouse does not work, make arrangements for some access to income so as not to look like an ogre, but protect from joint debt especially. While at home, be in the habit of carrying a small voice recorder at all times. This is to protect from accusations of assault, and also if there are any admissions of financial shenanigans.

At the time of separation, if living together, confirm this in writing, for example by sending emails referencing separation. Make sure there is a date and paper trail for everything. The point of still living together, at least for a few months, is to establish a full joint parenting situation. You are equal, joint, shared parents in all ways while living in the same house, officially separated. This is the beginning of your status quo, and also the beginning of getting the children onside with a shared parenting arrangement.

Until a court order or notarized agreement says otherwise, you have joint custody. Make sure to use it or lose it. If the ex starts taking over all child events, activities, appointments, etc, it will appear that in practice she is custodal parent. Make sure this doesn't happen. Stay involved.

Read Surviving your Divorce by Cochrane and Tug of War by Brownstone, two very useful and informative books on Canadian Family Law. Take notes as you read, think a lot, keep calm. Make plans. Plans can be changed, but keep having something to focus on. Makes lists of things to do, lists of everything, family property, bills, assets, everything you can think of.

See several family law specialist lawyers early in this, bring a notebook with all family information, names, ages, date of marriage, SIN #, children's info, yearly income, copies of notice of assessment, mortgage, rrsp's, everything you can think of. Organize it as logically as possible, let the lawyers look it over. Have a list of questions, prewritten with spaces between for you make notes of the answers. You can usually get a consultation with a lawyer for half an hour for no charge. It is worth the time and even a bit of money to see several lawyers and get good idea of your options. Pick a lawyer who listens as well as they talk, if they don't know you or understand your case, all they can do is a paint-by-numbers job.

Keep coming back here with any questions. Read read read. Always remember it is not your lawyer who is getting divorced, it is you. The decisions are yours to make. They need to be informed decisions.
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Old 07-27-2010, 10:30 PM
HammerDad HammerDad is offline
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Your cousin needs to read this:

Main Forum Page - Divorce Forums | Divorce Advice for Men | Information on Divorce • View topic - THE LIST (Print It)

Yes, it may seem a bit over the top, but you have to understand that this is meant for worst case scenario. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

He must, at the first instance that he believes she may get aggressive or pull a DV card, get a digital voice recorder. It is pretty useless for proof in court of any bad parenting etc., but great for killing false DV charges. Also NEVER MOVE OUT and really just focus on being a good dad.

If he is looking to divorce, he needs to become more of a machine around his soon-to-be-ex. Show little emotion and really only discuss matters that relate to the children. If she gets angry, walk away and go to a room that he can close the door to. Never engage her in an argument as nothing good can come out of it, he will never be right (even if he happens to be) and only bad things can happen.

Also, and this is important, is that he should be the one here looking for advice. Otherwise it is 2nd hand in and 2nd hand out. He needs to read this stuff for himself.
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