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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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  #1  
Old 10-10-2019, 10:15 AM
Googlelawstudent Googlelawstudent is offline
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Default Increasing access time? Unfair?

Hi All,

I will try to keep this as short as possible, but details are important.

I have been separated for 5 years. At the time of separation, our child was 5 years old, we had him 50-50 on a 2-2-5 schedule. She moved in with a friend, I with my parents, we were low income.

One year later, I have to move - parents selling their housing. Given my income and rental costs, I couldn't find my own place, so my only option was moving in with a friend who had a spare bedroom his apartment. This was ~100km away. Ex and I decided that she would have our son for the school week and I every weekend. This continued for quite some time, but with my time with him increasing slowly (the odd long weekend here and there) but I was reluctant to have too much time with my son, as he had to share a bed with me.

Given the $$ housing market, finding a bigger place to move or even closer to him with my income felt impossible. I was barely making ends meet as it was. However, after about 3.5 years, I finally save/make enough for first and last month rent to move into a bigger place for my son and my roommates (still cant afford my own place).

Now the schedule is more time: Me (fri - sun) every weekend, all long weekends (including PA days), and 4 days during times on non-school weeks (e.g. summers, march break, christmas holidays etc) + 2 weeks at the end of the summer.

There has been the odd time where something exceptional happened (weather, family emergencies, tentative school strike) where I ended up taking him to school Monday morning. I really enjoyed this and my son, now 10, stated he did too. It really felt like my Sunday time with him wasn't just cut and the transition was easier for him, as it cut his driving by a quite a bit. (mom living with new partner for 1.5 years, so my sons drive to school is 45 minutes - this means hes saving a 1.5 hours drive on sunday and a 45 min drive in the morning to a one hour drive Monday morning from my place). Sundays are hard because we just spend it getting ready for drop off and waiting to hear the time (ex usually tells me the time shes available the same day).


So opinion: is asking for one monday school drop off a month unfair? I asked to do it at a higher frequency in the past and she said no, as then she doesnt have any time with him on the weekend, so that's why I thought maybe once a month.

For context, we have no court order, everything has been done independently. I pay child support below the guideline - we decided this together (I have the conversation saved) as I have access costs that are approximately $400 a month and I purchase his clothes, coats, boots, pay for sports etc. so this will have no impact on my child support. I worry that she thinks im doing this to avoid support, as when i had asked for increase time in the past, she brought up that I can't stop my payment - I assured her that I am not interested in doing that. Ironically, when I count my overnights from the last year, I actually already have him 40% of the time, but I dont want to say that to her in the event my suspicion is correct, and she is afraid ill meet that threshold and therefore decrease my time.

So the question remains, is my ask fair (re: one monday drop off) to her and my son?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2019, 10:20 AM
rockscan rockscan is offline
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There are a few arguments not in your favour...

1. You chose to move (regardless of reasonable arguments, you put yourself in this situation).
2. She has no weekends with the child.
3. There hasnít been a material change from the first change.

That said, it isnít unreasonable since it is in the best interest of the child but then again, best interest could also extend to him seeing mom.

Ask yourself the golden question: is this the hill to die on?
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:33 AM
Berner_Faith Berner_Faith is offline
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You pay below guideline, Mom has no weekend access and you moved away. You stated youíre moving into a bigger place, is this closer to the child? You have to offer mom something if you want her to budge. Maybe one full weekend a month in exchange for you dropping off Monday two weekends a month? I totally understand why mom is reluctant because she has no ďdownĒ time with the child... itís all school days for her and you have all the ďfunĒ time.


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Old 10-10-2019, 10:36 AM
Googlelawstudent Googlelawstudent is offline
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Thank you for your prompt response. Two questions:

1. Addressing your point 2: Does the fact that she never had him weekends for 4 years work in my favour?
2. Addressing your point 3: does moving to a better environment for my son not count as a material change? Sorry if that's a dumb question, lol, im not 100% sure on what a material change would consist of.

And to your last point, that is certainly fair. I am just looking for semi-objective opinions. Ex had a tendency of saying no at first, just to say yes later when it works in her interest. So should it ever worst case scenario result in court, Im curious if asking has any value, and like you said, is it reasonable.
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Old 10-10-2019, 10:37 AM
Googlelawstudent Googlelawstudent is offline
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Berner Faith, Thanks for your response and suggestion

Edit: I guess I should add - mom works seasonally, 6 months a year, and works weekends, if that makes a difference. and My move is slightly closer, but not significantly. I couldn't move too far as my roommates still had to be able to travel to work.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:17 PM
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Janus Janus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Googlelawstudent View Post
so my only option was moving in with a friend who had a spare bedroom his apartment. This was ~100km away.
Bet you could have gotten a place for less than you are paying in child support now.

Quote:
but I was reluctant to have too much time with my son, as he had to share a bed with me.
In most of the world, people share beds.


Quote:
So opinion: is asking for one monday school drop off a month unfair?
What does "fair" even mean in this context?

It is fair for you to ask.
It is fair for her to say no.


Quote:
I pay child support below the guideline - we decided this together (I have the conversation saved)
The saved conversation doesn't really matter, you could still end up paying CS at guideline. Well, not totally true, the saved conversation saves you from retroactive support, but you could certainly be forced to pay guidelines going forward.

Quote:
as I have access costs that are approximately $400 a month and I purchase his clothes, coats, boots, pay for sports etc. so this will have no impact on my child support.
You cannot choose to pay for clothes, coats, boots, etc. instead of child support. The primary parent gets to buy that stuff. You get to give her money to buy that stuff.

Your access costs may seem high, but after your access gets reduced to every other weekend, they will be much more reasonable.


Quote:
She is afraid ill meet that threshold and therefore decrease my time.

So the question remains, is my ask fair (re: one monday drop off) to her and my son?
Honestly, she's not going to allow it. Getting child support is a sweet gig. There is no way she is going to jeopardize it.

I think your first step is to stop being 100km away. Your kid is almost a teenager, he's not going to be a big fan of that drive in the very near future.
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Old 10-10-2019, 11:20 PM
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I think I wasn't totally clear. I'll add a TLDR:

1) Is it fair for you to ask for Monday dropoff?

Yes.


2) Is it fair for you to have every weekend?

No.


3) Will she agree to the Monday dropoff?

No.


4) Could you force her to do it in court?

Maybe. But in return for the Monday dropoff you will probably only get every other weekend. You will also likely be ordered to pay table support.
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Old 10-11-2019, 09:20 AM
Googlelawstudent Googlelawstudent is offline
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Thank you so much for your responses Janus, I appreciate your opinion and feedback, particularly re: what a court may likely offer.

Just to be clear though, i already have every weekend and itís been this way for 4 years, and shes had no problems with it - never brought it up as an issue before. In fact, regularly asks me if Iíll keep him the extra day on long weekends.

Also, Iím not looking to reduce or stop support, Iím worried that she thinks I am asking for more time time as a way stop paying, which I am not. I recognize that even with some extra time, she still has costs and has budgeted my payment into that. Same applies to me, whether I have him one extra day a month, my expenses sty the same. So in essence, I am trying to get some objective perspectives on the sheer fairness of my ask given our history, my new place, and my sons preference, when someone isnít potentially motivated by what they think is the risk of a loss of income.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Googlelawstudent View Post
Just to be clear though, i already have every weekend and itís been this way for 4 years
I understood that. My point was that if you go to court, expect that parenting time to change to every other weekend.

Quote:
and shes had no problems with it - never brought it up as an issue before.
If you go to court, assume that everything might be an issue. Just because you are the one hoping to change things doesn't mean that she doesn't feel the same way. Usually, the thought is "this annoys me, but I'm not going to go to court for it". However, once you are going to court anyway, you might as well bring out your laundry list because the marginal cost/effort won't be big at all.

Quote:
So in essence, I am trying to get some objective perspectives on the sheer fairness of my ask given our history, my new place, and my sons preference, when someone isnít potentially motivated by what they think is the risk of a loss of income.
But she has brought up the income, which means that to your ex money is a big driver of her decision making. You can promise and swear to all the Gods of your personal pantheon that you won't change support but that can change in a heartbeat.

There is no objective fair here. Given your history (bailed and ran 100km away) I would say that fair is you get much less than you currently have. Your son told you he likes to stay with you... but there is a good chance he told his mother that he likes to stay with her.

I think my advice is the same. I think that legally you are dead in the water, so you probably cannot force anything. However, you seem to (mostly) get along with your ex, so I would ask incrementally. Don't talk about fair and not fair, because her fair is not going to correspond to your fair. Talk about how much you love your son and how it would be really nice to bring him back on Monday once a month. Be nice, be gracious, be obsequious, because that is the only way you are going to get what you desire.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:47 PM
Googlelawstudent Googlelawstudent is offline
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All fair points, Janus. Thanks again for your responses and time.
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