Dealing with Divorce Catch-All

Yes, wishing you the best during this time, Dakuna. You will continue to find your way forward, I have no doubt.

We had a nice lunch, a nice cry, a nice humorous divorce filing (the lady even made us free photocopies!) and a nice last few items exchange. Two nice hugs and promises to stay friends and in touch. Two emotional and positive phone calls while we drove to our respective homes.

I keep bawling every few minutes. I'll be ok one day but today is sh*t.

Dakuna wrote:

I keep bawling every few minutes. I'll be ok one day but today is sh*t.

It sucks, but it gets better. In a few months time, you'll feel oddly superior (and not a little guilty) when you hear about people having terrible divorces, where they are throwing things, screwing up the other person's life and just being horrible to each other. Your marriage didn't work out, but it sounds like your divorce is off to a great start.

d4m0: I feel like the "legal route" is your best bet... she's breaking the agreement for "fun/convenience" - your agreement is a legal requirement - if she can't see the difference, then I'd be getting the lawyer to remind her.

Dakuna, all I can say is, keep coming here whenever you need to. Give it time.

d4m0,

There are limits to what the law can achieve; I mean, the law presumes that parents can act like the adults they are and stick to an agreement, but too frequently lawyers and judges witness parents breaking agreements and as a result it doesn't attract the stigma and penalties which breaking an agreement or court order in other areas of law would impose. You've already picked up on my other posts about logging events and saving it up for the right time to act; my other advice would be a simple email from you or your lawyer requesting the mother comply with the agreed changeover arrangements and confirm you do not accept her proposed variation as it results in less time with the child in circumstances where you already have far less time with him than he does with his mother. A big part of your problem is that she is self represented and most likely does not appreciate how her present conduct is going to prejudice her future outcomes.

Atras wrote:

In a few months time, you'll feel oddly superior (and not a little guilty) when you hear about people having terrible divorces, where they are throwing things, screwing up the other person's life and just being horrible to each other. Your marriage didn't work out, but it sounds like your divorce is off to a great start.

Exactly: all you have to do is come right here to this thread and listen to our horror stories!

Bfgp wrote:

A big part of your problem is that she is self represented and most likely does not appreciate how her present conduct is going to prejudice her future outcomes.

This is definitely part of the problem. She has nobody to say to her, hey, you're being stupid and it's not helping anyone, and it's going to make you lose your son in the future. However, she wouldn't listen to anyone who said that anyway, so I guess it doesn't really matter. She's already lost her son in her son's own mind. He doesn't want anything to do with her right now.

I haven't heard back from my lawyer yet (I'm definitely looking at the legal route), but my ex did write back. Among the usual "if there are problems or a lack of peace it's because you brought them on, and I'm sure you want peaceful interactions" she relented about him being with me for Saturday. However, the catch is it would mean I have to drive the two hours to where she is at this guy's house to pick him up myself since she doesn't drive on the sabbath.

At first I was like no way in hell am I driving out there, but after talking with my wife, I think I'm going to do it. Not only would I actually have my son for the time I should, it would show my ex that it doesn't matter what she does, my time with my son is very important to me. I think as a bonus it would piss of my ex, and that's worth a lot. It would also prove to a judge how serious I am about my time when the inevitable court date happens in the near future. It's wrong and it's bullsh*t and it's awful, but I think I have to just do it this time. Is it the wrong thing to do though? I'm kind of afraid it will show her that I will drive out there every weekend to pick him up, and that's not true at all.

The other option is getting my kid on Sunday after they get back from the far away town, and adding a night or two during the week. The problem is that's not "real" time like a full Sunday would be. After school it's basically dinner, then some TV, then bed. It's not the best.

d4m0 wrote:

At first I was like no way in hell am I driving out there, but after talking with my wife, I think I'm going to do it. Not only would I actually have my son for the time I should, it would show my ex that it doesn't matter what she does, my time with my son is very important to me. I think as a bonus it would piss of my ex, and that's worth a lot. It would also prove to a judge how serious I am about my time when the inevitable court date happens in the near future. It's wrong and it's bullsh*t and it's awful, but I think I have to just do it this time. Is it the wrong thing to do though? I'm kind of afraid it will show her that I will drive out there every weekend to pick him up, and that's not true at all.

Yeah that's a tough one - everything you're saying here makes sense to me, including the part where you're asking if it's the wrong move. Setting precedent where you will go to any location to pick him up is a bad idea. I think you can avoid that by documenting that it is a one-time exception you are making, but that you expect him to be at the regular location for pickup in the future.

d4m0, pick some music from when you were your son's age, or something from your youth you think he might be into, and make a road trip mix you can share in the car.

Failing that, a podcast featuring an interest you both share.

Awesome Father/Son bonding moment is just another bonus for you guys on the return trip. See if there is a "greasy-spoon truck stop" you guys can make a pit stop in on the way home as well, or a particular chain dinner he might like, something out of the ordinary that will make it memorable for you both.

Just a thought.

Thanks guys. You can be sure I'm documenting this one too - I've decided to just go out there and pick him up.

m0nk3yboy, I've actually been having the same exact thoughts! We already have a few podcasts that we listen to together (including Gamers with Jobs!), so that's definitely on the docket. Haven't decided on stopping somewhere for food yet, but that might happen too.

m0nk3yboy wrote:

d4m0, pick some music from when you were your son's age, or something from your youth you think he might be into, and make a road trip mix you can share in the car.

Or just stick with the Celeste. New album in a week!

*Legion* wrote:

[Or just stick with the Celeste. New album in a week!

Oh hell yes. Good idea!

d4m0 wrote:

At first I was like no way in hell am I driving out there, but after talking with my wife, I think I'm going to do it. Not only would I actually have my son for the time I should, it would show my ex that it doesn't matter what she does, my time with my son is very important to me. I think as a bonus it would piss of my ex, and that's worth a lot. It would also prove to a judge how serious I am about my time when the inevitable court date happens in the near future. It's wrong and it's bullsh*t and it's awful, but I think I have to just do it this time. Is it the wrong thing to do though? I'm kind of afraid it will show her that I will drive out there every weekend to pick him up, and that's not true at all.

There is a risk of that, but I'd do the same thing you're doing in that situation because, as we've all been highlighting, it's about the kid and this is going to be one more unspoken piece of evidence for him that he is more important to you than a pissing match with his mother. I think that matters.

d4m0 wrote:

The other option is getting my kid on Sunday after they get back from the far away town, and adding a night or two during the week. The problem is that's not "real" time like a full Sunday would be. After school it's basically dinner, then some TV, then bed. It's not the best.

This is the truth. I have my kids Sunday night through Friday afternoon. I get one weekend a month, and believe me I'd take this deal over the opposite, but it does suck just a bit only having your kid(s) for the school night/work night routine. But, I also grew up with that, spending all my weekends with my dad. Both my parents are great, but there is no doubt in my mind who influenced me more growing up (my mom). We may not have had the quality time, but she was the one who made my day-to-day life work and that counted for a lot.

I don't know, d4m0. Giving in feels like, to me, you are setting an unnecessary precedent in her favour. Does the written agreement determine where the changeovers occur? I suppose there is a danger of potential expansion of the situation involving the child's mother relocating to this other town and 2 hour trips become a fixture. I hope your personal situation settles quickly as it sounds like your child is miserable / at a stage in life he could use more time with his father.

Besides that, you should be commended for going so far as you are willing to spend meaningful time with your son. My experience is that judges do their best to facilitate shared parenting so keep up the hard work!

Setting aside my, mostly, peripheral thread participation and here-for-latent-commiseration, please give Bfgp's latest post consideration.

I'm going to really stretch the doctrine of stare decisis beyond it's normal scope (broadly, one court affirming the precedent of another [sometimes even 'lower'] court) and try to apply it at the personal level: cracking the door to bad precedent erodes the teeth of an order\agreement\etc and does not foster 'predictable outcomes'.

Recreational Villain wrote:

Setting aside my, mostly, peripheral thread participation and here-for-latent-commiseration, please give Bfgp's latest post consideration.

I'm going to really stretch the doctrine of stare decisis beyond it's normal scope (broadly, one court affirming the precedent of another [sometimes even 'lower'] court) and try to apply it at the personal level: cracking the door to bad precedent erodes the teeth of an order\agreement\etc and does not foster 'predictable outcomes'.

I agree, RV, but the inflexibility of the law is also its fallability.

Take for example a case I have where the judge granted a father (flying in from interstate) 4 hours with the child on every second Sunday. Due to impractical changeover arrangements, he loses up to 1.5 hours just commuting from point to point to comply with the orders and the mother is inconvenienced by having to make 1 hour round trips to pick up and take the child home. This was put into place because the judge couldn't trust the parents with handing the child to the other parent at the designated time.

So, the judge had good intentions, but it wasn't sustainable. The parents in this case decided it wasn't going to work so they agreed to ignore the judge's orders and so far have applied a commonsense approach by varying the changeover arrangements so the father loses less time commuting and the mother isn't required to make a long trip to take the child home. This is a good outcome for everyone, but yes, it has meant the parents now treat what the judge has ordered less seriously, with the result that the frequency and amplitude of departures from court ordered parenting arrangements will only increase over time.

tldr; it would be great if everyone had a plan and stuck to it because it gets easier to break and flout rules the more it happens. I find parenting cases some of the hardest to deal with because life isn't simple and readily capable of being distilled into predictable schedules. A lot of lawyers I know avoid parenting disputes because of the toll it exacts on the lawyer to effectively police and parent the parents.

I imagine this kind of thing is fairly common (increased variance over time for custody practices as compared to the decree terms), and is ideally better for the kids involved.

At this point, honestly, the child custody terms in my divorce decree exist in name only. It was a 50-50 split, now they're with me five nights a week and a weekend a month (reversed in summer). I'm supposed to pick up the insurance (which I do), but costs are supposed to be shared (I cover basically everything). I'm still paying child support like it's a 50-50 split, which it's obviously not. On purely financial and basic fairness terms, it's very frustrating to think about, but I concluded years ago their mom's life was such a horrid state of affairs that, as long as I was allowed to increase my time/influence with them (which I have been), then the rest of it is worth it. I basically treat my child support (while also covering all school/activity/medical expenses) as a bribe to leave me alone to raise the kids the way I think they deserve.

I wish it was different with her, for my kids' sake, but I don't see a way to change it that isn't a net detriment to my kids.

Totally makes sense what you guys are saying. Bfgp, that is my greatest worry about this - I'm setting the precedent that I will actually drive two hours one way every time I need to pick up my son from my ex, which is definitely not the case.

Like ubrakto, our divorce agreement has also slightly adjusted over the years just by verbal agreement. For example, I no longer have him every single Saturday night, which is how it originally started. We moved to an every-three Saturday night thing with me one weekend, her parents another weekend, and her the last weekend, then repeat. Pickup always at 5, which is in the agreement. My son was good with it and everyone seemed happy for a good while. This was true until a couple years ago when my ex decided to be super religious and the sabbath became a big deal. Suddenly her parents couldn't pick up my son until after the sun went down on their Saturdays (somehow I could still do the 5pm pickup). In winter it's fine, but in the summer it means a 8:30 or 9pm pickup, which they didn't like at all.

In just the last month though she has taken advantage of me being away on a vacation and monopolized every Saturday night by bringing my son two hours away to her boyfriend's place and not returning to her place until Sunday afternoon. This upcoming weekend is the first time I've had to deal with it myself, for my time with him, instead of grandparents. I've already told her I'm coming to pick him up at 5 on Saturday, but she keeps replying to my messages with the usual vitriol about how I'm causing all these problems and not being flexible as I usually am, and I need to come after sundown or just wait till Sunday. The double standard is incredibly painful.

It's really hard to assess what would happen in your situation, d4m0, without a solid understanding of the context of your divorce, a full history of the extent to which the decree was previously followed, what circumstances caused the variations, and a better understanding of how courts in your state (and the other states) approach similar cases. There's a big difference in the jurisprudence because of the bill of rights and various amendments to the US constitution such that I am not sure what would be given priority (her religious practices and freedom to enter a new relationship bearing in mind the boy spent more time with his mother vs the interests of the child to spend meaningful time with both parents and the child's own views now he is old enough to have an informed opinion).

It really is something your lawyer (who you've retained from the start) to provide a formal opinion on whether all the previous breaches of court orders and the present circumstances are enough to justify approaching a judge to set aside the old terms and make new parenting orders; my gut feeling tells me you're not quite there yet given you agreed to reduce your time with the child, that it must takesomething really egregious and put the child at significant risk of harm to tip the scales, but again, I don't have a complete understanding and you are best served by chasing your lawyer up.

Thanks Bfgp, and you're right, I need to chase down my lawyer. I emailed on Monday and still haven't heard back. I should say that the original plan had me with a little more than 50% custody and her slightly less, since I had every Saturday (four nights a week, every week). Switching to every three Saturdays did reduce my time, but some of that went to my ex's parents, so that actually basically made it 50/50 since we then each had the same number of nights over time. Anyway these things are always so confusing, as most custody agreements are I'm sure.

I agree that we're not quite there yet in terms of heading to court and changing everything up. The problem is that my ex has yet to tell me anything about her plans and so I can't really do anything about them. Unfortunately I have to wait for her to actually do something before I can do something.

d4m0 can I ask.. how old is your son? Not that I would necessarily suggest he cut ties with his mother, but if he's over 12, he has some say in what happens to him, no? If he's younger, probably a lot less say...

He is 13. He's old enough where a judge will most likely listen to what he has to say, and he sure does have a lot to say about it. I think once all this does end up in court, I will have a pretty good case - especially considering what he will want to say to the judge.

Wow. Yikes. I go away for a day and a half and all this happens. D4m0, I am so so so sorry you have to put up with all this. I'm amazed and salute you for taking the high road. You'll be going on a road trip, but like others have said before, you're acting in the interest of your child and it'll show in the long run. I'm really rooting for you, hang in there.

Dakuna, my thoughts are with you as well. It can't be easy , getting to "D day", but I hope the road will be easier for you from now on. At least you're no in this "in between" state now.

Hang in there guys.

As for me, nothing to report. Sorry for disappearing, but this is my week with the kids and it's a race from sun up til sundown. Fell asleep at 9pm two days ago, I'm just that exhausted. It's all good though.

Argh. Way later circling back than intended, but for what it's worth it cuts both ways. My one comment may have been heavy-handed in a particular direction, but that's because on a simplistic, 'we feel ya' brother' way, it seems that d4mo is getting the short end of the stick.

Flexing the arrangements of original court orders or agreements between two consenting parties when the give-and-take is mutually beneficial is one thing but, and again -- more on the simple commiseration front, d4mo does not appear to have the benefit of such an equitable situation. Apologies to all for any skimming. I read through the latest but my mind is likely centered at where I last jumped on\off the trolley !

@ d4mo: keep up the good fight for your son!

Hey, thanks Eleima and Recreational Villain, all your messages help big time. I did the drive and picked him up Saturday and it went fine. The ex and the guy weren't even there - they had left maybe 10 minutes before I got there to go to services and my son was just sitting on the stoop in front of the place reading.

I still have yet to hear anything from my ex about any of this. Not even this guy's name. And my kid has been staying overnight at his place multiple nights in a row over every weekend for the last month, and come to find out, doing weird things, too. He got my son out of bed quickly at least one morning last week by getting a spray bottle of water and spraying him.

I should be talking to my lawyer on Wednesday. I found out today she's been in court lately, and will be for the next couple days. Hopefully she'll have some good advice and next steps on what to do. I'm mostly wondering whether I should email my ex with a "WTF IS HAPPENING?" message, attempting to keep the anger to a minimum of course.

Spraying the child while they're in bed?!? That seems terribly out of line... Don't know about emailing your ex, if that's a good idea or not. Then again, I'm terrible at taking my own advice in the matter.

So I still have a couple of assets tied to the joint account, which he couldn't access because they were in my name only. So I asked the bank to close them and wire the money to my own bank account. I specifically did so in order to prevent the funds from transiting in the joint account where TFEH could get at them.
Guess what happened? The bank disregarded my instructions, the funds were in the joint account and before I knew it, TFEH wired the money to his own account. It's "only" 1.3k€, but still, crap, my assets are dwindling daily. As it is, I have less than 3k€ set aside for a rainy day, now. Not to mention the legal fees.
I've filed a complaint with the bank, even though I don't know if they can do much, but it's just so aggravating. Email the ex complaining and denouncing the situation, with lawyer cc'd. Neither has gotten back to me.

I understand money frustrations.. I don't understand doing something unforgiveable, even to someone I dislike, with money as the medium. What a total piece of garbage. TFEH is a total waste of skin in my books. I wish you didn't have to deal with this Eleima.

Eleima wrote:

Spraying the child while they're in bed?!? That seems terribly out of line... Don't know about emailing your ex, if that's a good idea or not. Then again, I'm terrible at taking my own advice in the matter.

So I still have a couple of assets tied to the joint account, which he couldn't access because they were in my name only. So I asked the bank to close them and wire the money to my own bank account. I specifically did so in order to prevent the funds from transiting in the joint account where TFEH could get at them.
Guess what happened? The bank disregarded my instructions, the funds were in the joint account and before I knew it, TFEH wired the money to his own account. It's "only" 1.3k€, but still, crap, my assets are dwindling daily. As it is, I have less than 3k€ set aside for a rainy day, now. Not to mention the legal fees.
I've filed a complaint with the bank, even though I don't know if they can do much, but it's just so aggravating. Email the ex complaining and denouncing the situation, with lawyer cc'd. Neither has gotten back to me.

Bank f***ed up, bank needs to be held accountable. Will take time though, if there's one thing about banks, they hate admitting that they make mistakes (except when it's the bank's money that was mistakenly given out).

d4m0 wrote:

I still have yet to hear anything from my ex about any of this. Not even this guy's name. And my kid has been staying overnight at his place multiple nights in a row over every weekend for the last month, and come to find out, doing weird things, too. He got my son out of bed quickly at least one morning last week by getting a spray bottle of water and spraying him.

Oh, hell no. I would absolutely lose my sh** in that situation. Lawyer consult or no, there would be some major words being exchanged and some not-so-veiled (legal) threats. You, total stranger, do not get to bully my kid. (This is not advice. And smarter, cooler heads willy rightly tell you working the system in this is the smart thing to do, but that is exactly the kind of thing that would send me straight to the zoo.) So, so sorry you and your son are going through that.

Eleima, definitely stay on the bank about that. Egad.

Thanks gang. Yeah, definitely gonna stay on the bank's case because that I have no recourse from TFEH. They screwed up Especially after I SPECIFICALLY told them to be mindful. Ugh. Sorry to complain again but I did not need this.

Eleima wrote:

Ugh. Sorry to complain again but I did not need this. :(

This is the perfect place to complain about TFEH!