I was divorced in AZ, and both my ex and I moved to MN recently. For the past 8 months, we have both been living in a very small town. I have been living in a home that he owns. There is a long history, in my opinion, of control issues and financial coersion which I am now finally coming to terms with.
Although his offer was to buy the home of my choice which I would live in as long as I wanted, he has repeatedly made changes to the situation without consulting me and when I attempt to negotiate with him, he becomes pressuring and coercive. A few weeks ago he threatened to evict me, take away my vehicle, and withdraw all financial support.
I am a professional and fully capable of supporting myself and my son. I just got a job, and am buying a home 55 miles away, in a town better suited to my needs, and because I've realized that the current arrangement is very unhealthy and inappropriate. I'm in the process of disentangling from him financially and it's clear I need to update our custody agreement.
The current arrangement is joint parental custody; I had primary physical custody for the first 4 years after the divorce, and he has had PPC for the last 5 years. We have always agreed on the parenting schedule between us. For the past 4 years, our arrangement has been one week with me, one week with his Dad. Since the move to MN 8 mos ago, our son has been with me most of the time (approx. 7 of the 8 months all told); his father has been in AZ much of the time. He and his wife have a business there and still own a home there. The current arrangement in which I am here full time enables him and his wife to go back and forth between AZ and MN and to travel during the school year. Now that I am moving out of the school district, this disrupts their end of the arrangement. I understand that this creates a logistical issue on their end, but I think it's for the best given the unhealthy situation we have now. He wants to retain primary physical custody, which would mean actually maintaining primary physical custody and being here on school days. I agree that a school change right now would not be the best for our son; he needs as much stability as possible. However, I would be just as happy to have our son go to school in the town I'm moving to- in fact I chose the town because it has an excellent private school and other cultural benefits which the current town does not have. I am not attached either way to having him on weekdays or weekends, and I do think it would be better for him to stay in the same school for now if it is possible for his Dad.
I let him know of my plans two days ago. In that conversation, we discussed our son continuing in his current school for the time being, living with his Dad on weekdays and with me on weekends. Two days later, he emailed to assert that our son would be living with him full time from now on. Our son is currently at his house; he was scheduled to come back to my house on Friday. He was under the impression apparently that Primary Physical Custody meant Sole legal custody, and that he could control the "visitation" schedule.
He is now also asking me to move from the home in a month, one month before I close on my new house. Child support ($2,000 which he has been paying me even though he legally is PPC) would end at time of move, as well as my use of the car he owns that I am driving until I get a job and can afford to buy my own car (I sold my own car before moving up here). He is simultaneously saying that if I choose to stay in his house, he will continue the "child support" payments, I can continue to use the car, and would enjoy a low rent situation in his home. This seems like pressure to me, and seems to fit the description of violation of the divorce agreement, which states that "The parties shall not molest or interfere with each other, nor shall either of them compel or attempt to compel the other to cohabit or dwell with him or her by any means whatsoever." We are not living together of course, but he is certainly attempting to compel me to live in his home where he has dominion over decisions which affect the quality of life of myself and my family.
I let him know that if he wanted to change the custody and visitation arrangement, we would go first to mediation, and then to court if necessary, and that I would seek arrangement for an emergency visitation plan with a 50/50 split if necessary. I told him I was open to our son staying with him for the remainder of the week if he wanted, and that he could come back to my house on either Sunday or Friday as we originally planned.
1. What do I need to do to effect legal half-time visitation?
2. Since our divorce was in AZ, would I need to do this through the AZ courts, or would this happen through the local court since we are living here?
3. Do I have a legal case for contempt of the divorce decree based on his behaviors?
4. Should I get an emergency visitation schedule? How do I go about doing that?
5. Is there anything else I need to know that will be important for me to know in order to ensure that my son continues with me on a half-time basis?
Thanks for your help.