T Nation

Question for Family Lawyers and Divorced Dads


#1

Hey all,
Need some advice. Quick background...

Divorced my wife of 13 years back in 2012. We have three children together and have shared legal custody. Divorce was kinda-sorta amicable, and as a result, the agreement was fairly vague in retrospect with regards to the kids. Visitation was laid out pretty clearly, not disparaging one another in front of them, etc.

However, there have been a number of issues regarding their medical care that have raised my concern. Also some stuff regarding school. When we disagree on something she is (and has always been) utterly unwilling to listen to opposing views, logic, precedent, etc. Additionally, she has made what any thinking person would consider some very poor decisions regarding their welfare (for example, sending my 12 year old to school two days after being diagnosed with pneumonia).

I think I need to have modifications made to the agreement to provide some sort of mechanism, a "tie-breaker" if you will, for these sorts of situations.

What I am asking for is suggestions... stuff I may not have though of already.

  • What sort of potential conflicts need to be spelled out in the modification (medical, school, religion, etc.)
  • What to propose for resolving these conflicts
  • Anything else I might not have thought of

FWIW, this is in Massachusetts. Not a state with a reputation for being overly dad-friendly... but I'm told the judge presiding over the docket now (not the one who originally handled the divorce) is fairly reasonable, and I haven't found any horror stories or complaints about him online to suggest otherwise.


#2

Not a divorced dad, but this is the custody agreement I wrote up 10 years ago when I got divorced. My child’s dad and I work well together so no part of this agreement has ever had to be enforced, but it is still good to have.

I sent him a copy prior to mediation and we agreed on all points. Never had to speak with a lawyer or sit in front of a judge. Here’s hoping yours can go that smoothly :slight_smile:

In reference to custody mediation to be held on XXXX
MOM vs. DAD

  1. MOM is the primary custodian.

  2. Custody arrangement:
    A. Currently DAD has her every other weekend from 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday.
    B. MOM requests at least 24 hours notice if there is any change to pick-up time
    or location.
    C. MOM is willing to grant DAD more time with CHILD as long as it is conducive
    to her schedule.

  3. Holidays:
    A. CHILDâ??s Birthday: splitting birthday weekend evenly (Friday at 5pm to Saturday
    at 7pm and Saturday at 7pm to Sunday at 5pm). Parents will also alternate the
    actual day beginning with DAD.
    B. Thanksgiving: alternating Thanksgivings from 6pm Wednesday to 4pm Thursday
    beginning with MOM
    C. Christmas: alternating Christmas from 2pm Dec 24 to 12pm Dec 25 beginning with
    DAD.
    D. New Years: alternating New Years from 6pm Dec. 31 to 12pm Jan 1 beginning with
    DAD.
    E. Easter: alternating Easters from 6pm Saturday to 2pm Sunday beginning with
    MOM.

  4. Vacations:
    A. No changes to be made for summer months.
    B. If a change is desired, request must be made by May 1st.
    C. Each parent to have 2 weeks per year without CHILD; ideally one week in summer
    and one in winter.
    D. Each parent to have 2 weeks per year with CHILD; ideally one week in summer
    and one in winter. (Need not coincide with other parentâ??s vacation time).

  5. Provisions:
    A. Changes may be made to custody arrangement with prior mutual agreement.
    B. Each parent shall notify the other if someone other than the parent will be
    watching the child.
    C. Each parent shall be allowed reasonable contact with child when the child is
    in the other parentâ??s care.
    D. Each parent is to ensure that s/he can be reached whenever the child is in
    his/her custody.
    E. Each parent will supply the other with names, phone numbers and addresses of
    childcare providers.
    F. Open communication regarding extracurricular activities is to be encouraged.
    G. Neither parent shall speak ill of the other parent or his/her friends and
    family.

  6. Health and Well Being
    A. Both parents have complete access to all health, medical, dental, optical or
    counseling records of the child.
    B. In the event of serious illness or injury, the other parent is to be contacted
    as soon as possible.
    C. MOM agrees to maintain the child on her medical insurance policy and has
    provided DAD with an insurance card.
    D. As primary legal custodian, MOM is responsible for all out of pocket
    medical/dental expenses for the child. In the event of an extraordinary cost
    due (i.e. tests, prosthetics, orthodontics, etc.) the cost shall be split
    based on a percentage of each parentâ??s salary.

  7. Education
    A. Each parent shall have complete access to any and all school records.
    B. Each parent shall inform the other of any special school events, activities,
    or conferences.
    C. Decisions for education shall be made by both parents.
    D. If it is deemed that the child will attend a private school, the cost shall be
    split based on a percentage of each parentâ??s salary.
    E. Each parent may expose the child their respective religions and/or beliefs and
    will be respectful of the other parentâ??s religion and/or beliefs. The child
    may not be baptized into any religion without the consent of the other parent.


#3

Thanks for this. I suppose it was a little discriminatory not to include divorced moms as well… I know there are plenty of good/reasonable ones out there (most of the ones I know personally, in fact). I guess I just figured more of the men have had to traverse nasty minefields with this stuff.

A lot of what you have in your agreement is implied, if not spelled out in my agreement… and there are a few other lines I’ve already put on my list of things to add.

May I ask, though, have you guys ever encountered a disagreement that you just simply couldn’t come to terms on, and how did you eventually resolve it?

Thanks!

[quote]SmilingPolitely wrote:
Not a divorced dad, but this is the custody agreement I wrote up 10 years ago when I got divorced. My child’s dad and I work well together so no part of this agreement has ever had to be enforced, but it is still good to have.

I sent him a copy prior to mediation and we agreed on all points. Never had to speak with a lawyer or sit in front of a judge. Here’s hoping yours can go that smoothly :slight_smile:

In reference to custody mediation to be held on XXXX
MOM vs. DAD

  1. MOM is the primary custodian.

  2. Custody arrangement:
    A. Currently DAD has her every other weekend from 5pm Friday to 5pm Sunday.
    B. MOM requests at least 24 hours notice if there is any change to pick-up time
    or location.
    C. MOM is willing to grant DAD more time with CHILD as long as it is conducive
    to her schedule.

  3. Holidays:
    A. CHILDâ??s Birthday: splitting birthday weekend evenly (Friday at 5pm to Saturday
    at 7pm and Saturday at 7pm to Sunday at 5pm). Parents will also alternate the
    actual day beginning with DAD.
    B. Thanksgiving: alternating Thanksgivings from 6pm Wednesday to 4pm Thursday
    beginning with MOM
    C. Christmas: alternating Christmas from 2pm Dec 24 to 12pm Dec 25 beginning with
    DAD.
    D. New Years: alternating New Years from 6pm Dec. 31 to 12pm Jan 1 beginning with
    DAD.
    E. Easter: alternating Easters from 6pm Saturday to 2pm Sunday beginning with
    MOM.

  4. Vacations:
    A. No changes to be made for summer months.
    B. If a change is desired, request must be made by May 1st.
    C. Each parent to have 2 weeks per year without CHILD; ideally one week in summer
    and one in winter.
    D. Each parent to have 2 weeks per year with CHILD; ideally one week in summer
    and one in winter. (Need not coincide with other parentâ??s vacation time).

  5. Provisions:
    A. Changes may be made to custody arrangement with prior mutual agreement.
    B. Each parent shall notify the other if someone other than the parent will be
    watching the child.
    C. Each parent shall be allowed reasonable contact with child when the child is
    in the other parentâ??s care.
    D. Each parent is to ensure that s/he can be reached whenever the child is in
    his/her custody.
    E. Each parent will supply the other with names, phone numbers and addresses of
    childcare providers.
    F. Open communication regarding extracurricular activities is to be encouraged.
    G. Neither parent shall speak ill of the other parent or his/her friends and
    family.

  6. Health and Well Being
    A. Both parents have complete access to all health, medical, dental, optical or
    counseling records of the child.
    B. In the event of serious illness or injury, the other parent is to be contacted
    as soon as possible.
    C. MOM agrees to maintain the child on her medical insurance policy and has
    provided DAD with an insurance card.
    D. As primary legal custodian, MOM is responsible for all out of pocket
    medical/dental expenses for the child. In the event of an extraordinary cost
    due (i.e. tests, prosthetics, orthodontics, etc.) the cost shall be split
    based on a percentage of each parentâ??s salary.

  7. Education
    A. Each parent shall have complete access to any and all school records.
    B. Each parent shall inform the other of any special school events, activities,
    or conferences.
    C. Decisions for education shall be made by both parents.
    D. If it is deemed that the child will attend a private school, the cost shall be
    split based on a percentage of each parentâ??s salary.
    E. Each parent may expose the child their respective religions and/or beliefs and
    will be respectful of the other parentâ??s religion and/or beliefs. The child
    may not be baptized into any religion without the consent of the other parent.
    [/quote]


#4

I didn’t take offense. No worries.

We had a few problems when we first got separated, but that’s to be expected. We have been able to work together since then. We were both adamant about keeping lawyers out of the equation and did it all through mediation. I wrote this up as a catch all for potential problems down the road, sent him a copy ahead of time and we were with the mediator for all of 15 minutes.

I am very lucky and we have never had to enforce any of this. I would have to look at the filed agreement at home, but I think it states if we are not able to reach agreement on our own, we are to sit down with a mediator. In case that fails, it goes in front of a judge. Actually, this may have just been my amendments to the pre-fab document I got from Legal Zoom. (That’s LegalZoom.com/Burr!)

If you have Netflix, watch Divorce Corp. The shit that goes on in family court is truly disturbing!!

Good luck :slight_smile:


#5

I live in MD and found a support group for dads in situations like this (it’s really for men and women, but the group is advertised more as a help for fathers). It is helpful because you have a goup of people who are all in a similar situation with their own experiences and the group has a family lawyer come to answer questions for an hour or so at the beginning of the meetings. It’s a $20 annual fee, so for all the wealth of information it’s easily worth the money.

There may be groups like this in your state. Which would be good because you can get some advice specific to the laws in your state that could make a lot of difference. Some people may have experience with your judge, as well. Look on google and see if you can find anything.


#6

I’ll look into that. Thanks man.

[quote]TDub301 wrote:
I live in MD and found a support group for dads in situations like this (it’s really for men and women, but the group is advertised more as a help for fathers). It is helpful because you have a goup of people who are all in a similar situation with their own experiences and the group has a family lawyer come to answer questions for an hour or so at the beginning of the meetings. It’s a $20 annual fee, so for all the wealth of information it’s easily worth the money.

There may be groups like this in your state. Which would be good because you can get some advice specific to the laws in your state that could make a lot of difference. Some people may have experience with your judge, as well. Look on google and see if you can find anything.[/quote]


#7

Well I am both, a divorced dad and a family lawyer (no legal advice here). Be careful what you ask for! If you file for a modification then this will possibly give her the motivation to file a response and ask for her own changes. Also, lawyers are expensive and most litigation takes a long time. You seem to have tried this already and you may have no choice but to file, but to the extent you can agree on something this can be put in an Agreed Modification and sent to the judge for signature and filing (at least in my jurisdiction).

Most courts use the standard “best interests of the child” to control their decision making in these types of cases. But determining what this is, is the rub. May help if you prepare an Agreed Modification first and then present to her to review and stress at the same time that you have no desire to unilaterally file anything and start a dispute. Best of Luck!


#8

[quote]SmilingPolitely wrote:
(That’s LegalZoom.com/Burr!)
[/quote]

You have good taste, me undees, me undees!


#9

[quote]Rising Phoenix wrote:
Hey all,
Need some advice. Quick background…

Divorced my wife of 13 years back in 2012. We have three children together and have shared legal custody. Divorce was kinda-sorta amicable, and as a result, the agreement was fairly vague in retrospect with regards to the kids. Visitation was laid out pretty clearly, not disparaging one another in front of them, etc.

However, there have been a number of issues regarding their medical care that have raised my concern. Also some stuff regarding school. When we disagree on something she is (and has always been) utterly unwilling to listen to opposing views, logic, precedent, etc. Additionally, she has made what any thinking person would consider some very poor decisions regarding their welfare (for example, sending my 12 year old to school two days after being diagnosed with pneumonia).

I think I need to have modifications made to the agreement to provide some sort of mechanism, a “tie-breaker” if you will, for these sorts of situations.

What I am asking for is suggestions… stuff I may not have though of already.

  • What sort of potential conflicts need to be spelled out in the modification (medical, school, religion, etc.)
  • What to propose for resolving these conflicts
  • Anything else I might not have thought of

FWIW, this is in Massachusetts. Not a state with a reputation for being overly dad-friendly… but I’m told the judge presiding over the docket now (not the one who originally handled the divorce) is fairly reasonable, and I haven’t found any horror stories or complaints about him online to suggest otherwise.[/quote]

I am a business lawyer. I am NOT a family lawyer, nor divorced. But I deal with divorces as a business lawyer with some frequency as they tend to muck up large businesses.

My strong advice is to leave this alone, unless the child(ren) is(are) in actual danger.

Just pay your money (and get receipts) and love your kids the best you can.


#10

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

I am a business lawyer. I am NOT a family lawyer, nor divorced. But I deal with divorces as a business lawyer with some frequency as they tend to muck up large businesses.

My strong advice is to leave this alone, unless the child(ren) is(are) in actual danger.

Just pay your money (and get receipts) and love your kids the best you can.
[/quote]

I’m a divorced dad but not a lawyer and whole-heartedly second this. The last thing you want to do is bring the State into your relationship with your ex unless she is blatantly abusing or neglecting the kids. Sending a child to school 2 days after being diagnosed with pneumonia is neither. Lawyers are expensive, courts move slowly, and you’re injecting a huge amount of uncertainty into something that seems to be working fairly well.

The crux of the matter is, you’re going to have to work shit out with your ex…just like if you were still married.


#11

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]Jewbacca wrote:

I am a business lawyer. I am NOT a family lawyer, nor divorced. But I deal with divorces as a business lawyer with some frequency as they tend to muck up large businesses.

My strong advice is to leave this alone, unless the child(ren) is(are) in actual danger.

Just pay your money (and get receipts) and love your kids the best you can.
[/quote]

The crux of the matter is, you’re going to have to work shit out with your ex…just like if you were still married.
[/quote]

This. ^ just without the sex


#12

[quote]Derek542 wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

The crux of the matter is, you’re going to have to work shit out with your ex…just like if you were still married.
[/quote]

This. ^ just without the sex
[/quote]

Like I said, just like you were still married.


#13

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]Derek542 wrote:

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

The crux of the matter is, you’re going to have to work shit out with your ex…just like if you were still married.
[/quote]

This. ^ just without the sex
[/quote]

Like I said, just like you were still married.
[/quote]

lol I see what you did there


#14

[quote]Scotto wrote:

[quote]SmilingPolitely wrote:
(That’s LegalZoom.com/Burr!)
[/quote]

You have good taste, me undees, me undees!
[/quote]

I forgot my phone this morning so I was forced to listen to crappy local radio on my way to work. Suddenly, it was as if the Angel Gabriel himself whispered over the radio, "Bill Burr to do a show at *a venue that is really, really close to you and tickets go on sale today at 10am. Hallelujah!!! trumpets. fanfare. etc.

I completed my drive to work. Ran the plan past the boss (my bf) and it was decided that, despite the kinda steep price, purchasing tickets was MANDATORY! Next, I sat by my phone until exactly 10am and called the Luxury Box office. That’s right, I said luxury, because I am a high maintenance bitch and my bf is an old and crotchety man who does not like mingling with the common folk :wink: Actually, it has more to do with the fact that the venue has a flat main floor and the luxury upper level offers free beer and wine. score!!

So…in case you couldn’t tell, I am rather excited about this sudden turn of events and I get to go see Burr in a couple of weeks!!! I hate to turn all girly and use this word, but SQUEEEE!!

Anyway, as a fellow fan, I just wanted to share and say “Go fuck yourself”!! :slight_smile:


#15

[quote]SmilingPolitely wrote:

So…in case you couldn’t tell, I am rather excited about this sudden turn of events and I get to go see Burr in a couple of weeks!!! I hate to turn all girly and use this word, but SQUEEEE!!

Anyway, as a fellow fan, I just wanted to share and say “Go fuck yourself”!! :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Freckles always puts on a good show, enjoy it’s going to be a fun night!