Hi - Let me begin with a little background info. I am divorced mother of two boys (15 1/2 & 13yrs old) living in SC since Aug. 2004. Divorced in IL in 2001. Shared joint custody w/ex - complete nightmare. Job transferred me to SC in 2004. Petition for removal was granted in Aug. 2005. Kids lived w/my parents from Aug.04-Aug.05. Visitation w/ex was set at 1 weekend each month from Sept - May (I pay to fly kids to see him), holidays alternated, school breaks divided and summer vacation divided equally. He does not regularly pay child support. He has been on/off disability (mostly on) since divorce was granted. No way to pay alimony or child support.
Ok here are my issues: Both kids are heavily involved with sports and school activities (wrestling, Project United Nations & student government) this year. Arranging visitation has been difficult and extremely stressful on kids and me. (Dad has gone as far as leaving kids at airport stating it was not convenient to his schedule to pick them up) Both kids have stated to him several times that they do not want to miss anymore practices & weekend tournaments until sports season is over in March. I suggested he use the child support for those months to fly to SC to watch kids in tournaments. He flat out refused. He said he was going to do what he needed to do to see the kids in IL. He has gone so far as to call the coaches and insist they drop kids from respective teams. Thankfully the coaches understood the situation and basically told him because he does not have physical custody he can't insist they do anything. He told the boys he was taking me back to court for violation of the visitation order. We have already been to court twice since Aug.05 on visitation and both times his petitions were denied. Kids are really upset. They think they caused this situation by telling him they wanted to stay in SC until end of sports season. As has been the case since the divorce, he is causing unnecessary stress and embarrassment on kids and I want to put an end to all this.
1. At the age the kids are now, can their wish to alter the visitation be recognized by the courts?
2. If yes, which court system do we go through? IL where removal order was granted or SC where we have all been living since Aug.05?
3. If no, can I petition this on their behalf and again where would I do this?
4. Is this something I can do myself or should I retain another lawyer?
Sorry for the novel! I would greatly appreciate any input. Kids are headed to Dad in a few days for the holidays and I am sure he will be playing his typical mind games and laying on the guilt. I would like to be able to tell the kids we have a plan and not to stress over all this.
Thanks again for your time.