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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South Carolina
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    2

    Default Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    984

    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    You would have to go to IL for any modification since they still hold jurisdiction. His ability or not to pay child support is not a controlling factor in changes in visitation. You moved the children away from their father, that is not his fault. You bear the cost of transportation to the distance you created. Scheduling children for activities during dad's time or making excuses for not honoring the visitation orders can eventually result in you being found in contempt or worse. Putting the children in the middle is not his or the children's fault. If you are seriously considering a new visitation schedule, consider giving him more time in the summer, say 9 instead of 6 weeks. You have enough time now to schedule flights in advance that there shouldn't be a problem unless you make one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    If the kids have been in South Carolina for more than six months and there is no court action in Illinois, you can try to transfer jurisdiction to South Caroline under the UCCJEA. If you want to try that I suggest getting help from a lawyer.

    Kids don't get to veto the other parent's time with them, and neither do you. You're all supposed to follow the court's order.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    984

    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    Just because they have been there 6 months doesn't mean the IL court will give up jurisdiction if dad remains in IL or protests, which it appears that he will. A court battle to move contested jurisdiction can be very costly and no guarantee that she will get the ruling she wants if she were to achieve that goal.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    No, it's not a guarantee, but there's a substantial likelihood, and a UCCJEA motion should not be particularly expensive to bring. Judges know that when the domicile of children is relocated to another state the result is that as time passes key witnesses to custody litigation end up being in that different state. If the result is being able to litigate in the state where the children reside rather than litigating in a different state, the cost savings of a UCCJEA motion are often substantial.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    South Carolina
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    Thanks for the quick responses. I now have a couple of options to look into.

    I just want it clear that I am well aware that not paying child support is not a viable reason to alter/stop visitation. As I was told by a judge years ago; as long as he makes some attempt to pay no matter how little or infrequent, the visitation schedule must be adhered to. I am not trying to have visitation changed based on that issue alone. Our joint parenting agreement states that we are to evenly split all expenses related to the kids until they reach 18yrs then college expenses to be divided 3ways. The removal order specifically states that I have physical custody and that all financial issues are to remain as ordered in the JPA. Yes, I pay to fly them back and forth to IL as well as every single expense that involves the kids and I am not exaggerating. Since moving to SC, I am no longer in a position where I must depend on him financially as I was in IL.
    I can handle the stress he causes but watching my kids try to deal with his control issues and his negative attitude toward anything they are interested in is horrible. His attitude is nothing new; the 603Bs' report for the removal petition documented his negative mental & physical actions toward the kids quite accurately. I completely support the positive activities the kids have chosen to become involved with because we all know the pitfalls of teenagers with to much “free time”. I do not believe it is right that I should have to bargain my time with the kids to get him to support his kids interests and dreams but I will do what is necessary to make sure my kids are able to pursue their interests. The kids will have to drop activities if forced to stay exactly to the visitation schedule and I just can’t understand how any parent would selfishly deny their children opportunities or how any court would allow this to happen.

    Again – thank you very much for the responses.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    It's not particularly unusual for some modification of parenting time to be sought or agreed to by the parties as the kids become older and they have commitments of their own. But courts see both sides - parents whose kids really want to, for example, join the football team necessitating a change in the visitation schedule, and parents who schedule extracurricular activities with the intent of denying the other parent access to the kids.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    984

    Default Re: Can visitation be altered for kids busy schedules?

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    It's not particularly unusual for some modification of parenting time to be sought or agreed to by the parties as the kids become older and they have commitments of their own. But courts see both sides - parents whose kids really want to, for example, join the football team necessitating a change in the visitation schedule, and parents who schedule extracurricular activities with the intent of denying the other parent access to the kids.
    Same for the extra financial expenses, most plans include language whereby the parents split the extra costs they jointly approve pr agree to split the cost. Like MKIA stated, extra activities and extra costs are sometimes tactics meant to interfere with visitation.

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