This is very tricky…the courts can go either way on this point. On one hand they do not like to change up the child/children’s routine too much so what the schedule is now and has been is setting a precedent for what it could possibly be ordered in court.
On the other hand, the courts generally want the parents to have as equal time as possible. If that scenario can be worked out so that the child/children benefit from it then you have a better chance than some.
Is there any way to settle out of court? Would your ex be willing to attempt to share custody with you to see if it would work for the children? Some parents can not make the equal time issue work out but there are some families that thrive on it. We have joint physical and legal custody with equal time for my stepsons. They stay with us for one week and with their mother the next, aside from one night in the middle. (she works 3rd shift, odd hours so we accomodate) The only way that this can work is if it works best for the child.
There will be the permanent custody hearing, or a mediation (or other alternative dispute resolution process) to establish permanent custody. The actual divorce is not a factor in custody.
The time you have been spending with your children is relevant to the permanent custody determination. If things have been going well, there is no reason I can see that you shouldn’t be able to spend as much time with your kids if not more. The court’s determination will be based on what is in the best interests of the children, and therefore you will need to present evidence that spending more time with you are in the best interests of the children.
Thank you for your input.
It sounds as though you are only getting every other weekend visitations. Joint custody with equal time would mean a great deal more overnights with you than you currently have or that you are asking for. It is preferred that this be worked out between the parents so that the courts do not have to intervene.
If I’m not mistaken, a judge rarely rules on joint custody, because joint custody involves the parents working together. If the parents are willing and able to work together, the cases do not make it to court.
A temporary order can last for years if no one ever makes a motion for a permanent hearing…
The best course of action is to show the courts schedules you have worked out, what you have worked out for school and vacations, pictures of the children’s rooms at your home, get a list of people willing to testify that have seen you with the children, whatever will show the court that spending more time with you would benefit the children more than leaving the schedule as it is now.
Though they settled after the preliminary hearing, my husband was prepared to show the court with letters from teachers about his efforts to be involved with homework and school projects, testimony from friends about the behavior and well being of the children when they were with him, and an statement from their family physician and dentist that he was the one who always took them to their appointments.
Use whatever ammunition you have on your side now, because once custody is ordered it is very difficult to have it changed unless there is a drastic change.
With your permanent hearing request/motion, if this goes to mediation, you could possibly bring up joint custody with equal time. One week with you, one week with the other parent. Then if the ex will not agree to that, you could reduce it down to every Thursday and every other weekend. That would give you one day every week with the children, plus the extra night you currently want. Ask for more to begin with and then the stbx may be willing to settle for the extra time you are currently want.
I can’t say for sure what your chances are of gaining a specific number of additional nights, but if your attorney has said you have a great chance, I would put faith in him/her since you two know the case best.
Thank you very much for the info.
My opinion, you should be informed of every event in the children’s lives. But that is not required if your ex has primary custody.
Having a flexible schedule will be in your favor. Showing the court that you have been denied information about events or medical appointments will not look good on any parent. Living that closely to each other, I don’t think that even joint custody would disrupt the children’s lives too much.
It is in the child’s best interest for their parents to be as involved in their lives as possible. There are a lot of parents out there who are not interested at all in maintaining a relationship with their children. They assume that they will do something when the child is older or that eventually the child will choose to spend more time with them. I applaud you for your efforts because waiting when it involves a child is not realistic.
I would still suggest that you attempt to get joint custody with equal time before this is permanent, but if you are willing to settle for only an extra night, it sounds as though you have a strong case and would likely get the extra time.
Best wishes to you and keep us posted!