DISCLAIMER: The following is NOT legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If you are in Family Court you will need legal advice, so please see a lawyer.
Being denied visitation time with your children when you separate and /or divorce is the # one frustration that all divorced dads share in common. Here’s a common story that I was recently told by one father:
I have access every weekend with my son, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but last week the judge decided to make it every other weekend so that the mother can spend time with my son. She never had weekends before but pleaded for it on compassionate grounds and the judge gave it to her.
She really had no basis for this from my perspective and I was very disappointed. The new schedule is very disruptive. What can be done?
Compensatory access. It is basically saying how are you going to make it up to me that my child has lost with me that they are currently benefiting from.? You need to think long and hard about this.
The next suggestion I have in this situation is to have realistic expectations. Having a child every weekend is a very unusual situation for any divorced dad. However if you have that order, recognize it can be and likely will be changed if Mom seeks such an order.
Flexibility is called for. For example, your approach may have been: “Well, you know what? I can understand how she might want some time! What we need to do here is look at the current schedule our son should not lose the time he has with me. Here’s why?
Then stress benefits, benefits, benefit to the child. The Judge does not care about your losing time, but they will care about what your child loses if you can make a clear, convincing, compelling case that persuades the Judge about what the child gains in being with you.
For example: Here is how I am involved in his life and here are all the benefits to him. She wants once a weekend. That is fine. What will our son get in return for that weekend he is losing with me?”
Do you see the difference in how the situation is being expressed?
It is being expressed from the child’s perspective, NOT yours. That’s where the most powerful evidence exists in such matters.
BUT, for some divorced dads, you’ll need to practice seeing and expressing things in this new way. It takes some training of your natural reactions and skills to articulate a situation that does not naturally come to most people.
That’s because most people describe their circumstances in terms of how affects them. In custody and access / child visitation matters, Family Court Judges are directed to decide why anything being asked for by a parent is best for the child, not the parent.
If you go and watch what goes on in your local Family Court, you will see this principle in action again and again.
Do just that! Go watch how Judges decide things, and figure out how you can position yourself within your situation so a Judge sees it and automatically reaches for the same solution you are seeking.
Understand that Family Court is an institution that is very predictable, but that there are exceptions that you see again and again when they arise.
The only way to learn about that is to go and watch the action on days when motions are held, and mom, dad and their lawyers present evidence and argue for temporary orders.
After doing this for several days, you will see things with a fresh set of eyes. You will be amazed at what you learn in a very short space of time and how that will affect your choices and instructions to your lawyer.
My final suggestion is this: Life is often unfair. Family Court is one place where we see unfairness often. However, if you ONLY go to learn about Family Court, the day you have a hearing scheduled, you won’t learn much.
That’s because you’ll be too nervous, worried, concerned and afraid of what’s to come. Preparation will address these issues and help you to begin seeing what a Judge sees.
If you do this you will hold an advantage in the situation. And isn’t that what you really want?
Be fair with yourself and put the time in or face the consequences and costs of poor decisions and choices based on a total lack of knowledge about how Family Court operates.
In the final analysis, this is the most important set of choices you’ll ever make for your children. Shouldn’t you do that based on facts that you’ve confirmed about Family Court, instead of guessing?
I’m sure you know the answer. I encourage you to get going. Learn everything you can about these matters Don’t just complain about unfairness, TAKE ACTION to optimize your chances of success.