My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Indiana
I have a 4 year old son and I live in southern IN (a little further south than Indy), father lives in northern IN (almost in Michigan, he is about 10 mins from the border). Paternity was established when my son was 3 months old, child support was set up, no visitation plan though (even though we were in front of the judge regarding custody). I am now waiting for a court date for a modification of visitation (filed by dad).
A little backround: We live almost 5 hours apart (have since before I was pregnant). Father has only come down to where my son and I reside a total of 5 times his entire life and two of those times were for court and he did not see our son afterwards (he didn't ask to see him after. He just left). The other times he has seen him is when I went up to where dad lives to visit some friends. I have gone up there once a year since my son has been born. My ex has never had my son on his own and when he does see him he never stays longer than an hour. So obviously my son has absolutely no idea who he is. I have never stopped my ex from being in our son's life, he just has never made the effort.
He called me about a month ago and told me he wanted to work out a visitation plan for him to have our son. He demanded that he have our son for 9 days a month, starting now. I, of course, refused. I am not going to send my son to stay with him when he is virtually a stranger to him. That would be traumatic to him. I don't know how he could possibly think it would be healthy to send a 4 year old to stay with someone he doesn't know for 9 days in a row (especially when he has never spent a single night away from me).
I told him that he needed to form a relationship with our son before he could take him overnight and that 9 days/nights was way too long anyhow. I told him he needed to get to know our son down here where he is comfortable and happy and then we would work on overnights, he refused. He said I either agree to his plan or we would see each other in court. So that's where we will settle this.
The kicker in this whole issue is that I received court papers a few weeks ago with our court date and time on it. In those papers it said how much visitation he is asking for. I expected to see 9 overnights a month. What I actually saw was one weekend a month! I was shocked. I would have easily agreed to one weekend a month (after the graduated plan) but he never asked me for that.
So my questions are: Will we go to mediation first or straight to the judge? Will I need to come up with a graduated plan for us or will the judge/mediator do that? If I need to come up with it, what would be an appropriate plan? (I googled "graduated parenting plans" and found nothing but regular parenting plans)
Oh I almost forgot! He is currently working a very odd schedule. He works out of town for 6 weeks and then is home for 6 weeks. He won't be able to use his parenting time those 6 weeks that he's gone, so how will the judge/mediator do the visitation plan?
Sorry this got so long, thanks in advance for any answers.