Q My ex-wife and I have an agreement that I can see our 8-year-old son every other weekend and two afternoons each week. Two months ago, I was relocated for work to Albany, N.Y. I was just served with a complaint to modify our parenting plan – my ex wants to restrict my time with our son so I only see him one weekend each month in Boston. I don’t think this is fair.
For the last two years, almost every time I went to pick up our son, she had an excuse as to why he could not see me. Either he was sick, or she made plans and he did not want to go with me, or he was not there. When she did let him come with me, she usually had an excuse why he had to be back early. I was so tired of fighting with her that I just did what she wanted.
Now I am worried if I again just do what she says, I may lose my son altogether. At least before I could show up at his soccer and baseball games. Now I can’t even do that to let him know I am thinking of him. What can I do?
A Your first mistake was not fighting to enforce your parenting time when you were here in Massachusetts. If she mandated changes when you arrived to pick up your son, you have no email or text trail to use as evidence that she interfered with your time. The history will be your word against hers. Expect part of her claim to be that you have waived most of your parenting time in the past two years by not taking your son on your days.
The judge will likely find her story more credible than yours because you never went to court to hold her accountable. By failing to engage in that fight, you empowered her to now try to limit your relationship with your son.
Expect the judge to reduce your time with your son – not just because of her allegations, but because now that you live in Albany, you cannot realistically spend two afternoons and every other weekend with your son. Instead of fighting for no change, propose your own. Suggest Facetime interactions two days each week to replace afternoons. Read him books, find interactive games you can each play from your location, get creative to encourage him to participate.
Plan to come to Massachusetts every long weekend of the year and ask to have him from Friday when he gets out of school until Monday evening each time. Ask for at least half of the holiday and school vacations, if not more. And ask for half of the summer in Albany – if he is going to be in camp here, he could just as easily attend camp in Albany.
Remember, whatever schedule you end up with, if she interferes, enforce it.