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NSW Working Out a Fair Parenting Plan with Child's Father?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Trying2bfair, 19 February 2016.

  1. Trying2bfair

    Trying2bfair Active Member

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    Hi,

    I'm trying to work out a fair parenting plan / consent orders for my almost 3-year-old.

    The father would like to take the child where he "lives" for day visits every Saturday. My issue is the drive is a minimum of 1.5 hours one way with no traffic and I think that it may be too much for a not even three-year-old to handle! I don't want to be unfair to his dad but I don't want to exhaust my child.

    The father has not had a fixed address since the baby's birth, so overnights are not an option, the father also has no family to host overnights. I used to let the father stay at ours overnight when we were on better terms but that is no longer an option.

    Please also know the father and I were never in a relationship, and I have always given him access and included him in the child's life. He has never paid a dollar towards his child and I have just filed with child support, hence why things are tense.

    Any help regarding Family Law is greatly appreciated!
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    What do you suggest as the alternative? Or rather, what have you suggested as the alternative?
     
  3. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think a 3-hour round trip is too much.

    Just out of interest, did you move away from where dad currently resides?

    I reckon every weekend is a bit rich, though. I'm thinking every second weekend with the option of him having some extra time as long as he does the travel...

    As far as exhausting the child - I have to tell you that there were times where I would have driven for 2 hours or more; Just because my youngest kid was bloody hard to get to sleep. He'd fall asleep in the car but wake up just as quick if I stopped, so driving was the only thing that gave me a break and kept me sane
     
  4. Trying2bfair

    Trying2bfair Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    To answer some questions, no we didn't move away, he did funnily enough. He wanted to be closer to his job! His choice I guess!

    He can't do any weekday visits as he works a split shift Mon-Fri. Currently he has our child 3 hours every Saturday, but to be honest he normally drops the baby back after an hour and a half!

    I suggested that he get a stable home and a lease in his name, then we can work on getting to an every other weekend routine, he thinks I'm being unreasonable My next suggestion was having the baby Saturday 10am till 5 or 7pm and bringing him home, then when he is older, he could do that both days every second weekend, but I really hope he gets a proper home by then!

    He wants to have him over night every weekend but one per month and have equal say in school health etc but not pay for any of it!

    If the drive doesn't sound too ridiculous, then we can work something, I'm sure! Just needed some outside perspective!

    And, sorry, I should have said in my original post that the day trip arrangement is currently the alternative suggestion to the overnights. I was just hesitant if the travel seemed unfair to our child!

    Hopefully, our child's father will think it's a fair option!
     
  5. Trying2bfair

    Trying2bfair Active Member

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    But please help me if I'm being fair and if anyone has any suggestions of different visitation options. I'm all ears!
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    I'm a stepparent to a child who was three years of age when I met her dad. She handled long car trips very well when she was that age - she chatted a lot, or played the iPad a bit, or just fell asleep. If the child isn't seeing dad that often, he will likely even enjoy the one on one time of those car trips. On top of that, you could consider working out the return time based on the child's bedtime - if the child's bedtime is 7:30, for example, then make the return time 8pm, because he will likely fall asleep in the car on the way home, and it will be good for dad to do the bedtime routine with the child, but that's just a suggestion.

    Overnight time is reasonable, but I agree it should not be the norm until he has a stable address. Kids benefit from household routines and traditions, but I understand it's difficult to benefit if the household changes from week to week. You might consider an overnight every fourth weekend or some such, just so the child can get used to overnights for when he does have a stable address. I also think three hours round trip every weekend is unreasonable - I would say every second weekend at most.

    The father has an equal say in all major long-term decisions regardless of whether he pays for it directly or not. It's called parental responsibility and it's a presumption under the law, which means it can't be removed unless by order of the court. The way in which he *does* pay for it is through child support, so it's good that you are now seeking it. Just be aware that child support is his contribution to the child's upbringing.
     
  7. Trying2bfair

    Trying2bfair Active Member

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    Sorry, do you think his request for overnight visits every weekend bar one a month is reasonable when he has a stable address? Just I think me only having one weekend every five weeks is really unreasonable. I am up for him having every second weekend, just want to clarify which you thought was reasonable?

    Now as for child support *sigh*, he took cash in hand and filed no taxes. Best case is I get $75 a week, that barely covers basics, I'm pretty sure he is claiming no income so although I know he makes plenty of money, I can't prove it!

    I am writing in the documents that he can have 50/50 on these things (school, medical etc) but also cover 50/50 costs. Basically, he does no drop offs, pick ups or appointments, pays for nothing, etc, but if he wants to be "even" co-parents, I want him to do his half in everything not just the "fun" stuff.

    I don't mind him having a say; he should. He is our child's father but I'm also sick of him taking zero responsibly. He doesn't even buy the babe food on his visitation, I've actually had to give him lunch money every visit! But currently, he tells me he won't approve the school I've had our baby on a wait list for since the child was born, that he agreed to before I did it unless I absolve him of financial responsibility and give him his version of overnights.

    For me, I need him to get a safe home in his name (12-month lease) before overnights, his housing history is beyond dodgy. I mean, he moves frequently, and this includes strangers from the internet, couch surfing, staying with known drug addicts, even backpackers hostels. I just can't agree to overnights until he is in his own home (even then I feel like I'm taking a leap of faith).

    I'm really just trying to present him with a fair plan. I really liked all your suggestions of matching bedtime and travel that could really work well (fingers crossed). I'm going to have to look at one weekend him taking our child on the long trip and then the second weekend doing a fun day or something out nearer our baby's home. I can only put it forward. At worst he says no!

    You have been extremely helpful!

    I just want the best for our baby, so again, any thoughts or suggestions are really appreciated!
     
  8. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, that was a bit unclear on my part. You could consider something on a four-week cycle as follows:
    • Weekend 1 with you;
    • Weekend 2 with him from 9 am to bedtime on Saturday;
    • Weekend 3 with you;
    • Weekend 4 with him from 9 am Saturday until bedtime on Sunday.
    I realise your concerns about him not having a stable address, but if the court were to consider the matter, there's a good chance it would probably still make orders for an overnight time because of the travel distance. It would not likely want the child to spend so much time travelling in a single day, and it would also need to balance that with the child's cognitive need to have regular and meaningful contact with dad to ensure he can build and enjoy a meaningful relationship with him while the child is so young.

    Generally speaking, the younger the child, the shorter but more frequent the time should be that they spend with the non-resident parent so they can build a meaningful relationship with them. You could consider including an "In the event the father enters into a lease agreement for accommodation" provision that allows for more regular and longer periods of overnight time, as a bid to try and encourage the father along.

    Regarding the financial situation, I do realise your frustration, but child support is not intended for the basics that come with having the child in your physical care, like food or clothing. It's for the costs that exist for the child regardless of whose care the child is in, simply because the day-to-day costs can be reduced for one parent by placing the child into the care of the other parent more often, if that makes sense. Other costs, like schooling, exist no matter where the child is, so that's what child support is intended for, more or less.

    If child support is proving to be a difficult article of discussion between you and the father, you can and should cease discussing it with him and instead hand that responsibility over to the child support agency. Once you initiate a claim for child support, it becomes a legal obligation on his part to pay it, and child support is there to ensure he meets those obligations. Once you give them carriage, child support need not even come up in discussion between you, and it definitely won't be a negotiable in the dispute about care arrangements.

    You'll hate hearing this, but $75 a week is also not that bad. When we only had every other weekend, the most we ever paid for child support was about $15 a week, with everything declared and accounted for and him fitting into the middle-income bracket. The other thing is that it's better to have that $75 a week in your own pocket than paying off a personal loan for a lawyer because of disagreement about parental responsibility and cost allocation.

    For the record, schools don't need the consent of both parents to enroll a child, so as long as you consult with him about the choice of school, he will have been included in the decision-making enough to have carried out his parental responsibility. If it's a private school, just don't expect him to pay half the fees if he hasn't agreed to it, that's all.

    Have you attended a family dispute resolution conference with the father?
     
  9. Trying2bfair

    Trying2bfair Active Member

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    Again thanks for the reply!

    Now I believe I am waiting to be served to attend mediation, which is great. I want mediation!

    In the interim, I have decided to present him with a parenting plan and see if he will work with me while we wait out the mediation wait (I believe it's about 12 weeks before we will be seen!) the sooner we solve this the better for our baby!

    I give him his Saturdays, I also offer up extra time on the Saturday and Sunday almost every week, but he has yet to take it, I never withhold our child and heck, I give them lunch money!

    As for child support, thank you for the explanation. To be honest, it really isn't about the $75, it's that I know he is going to claim no income meaning we get $0 and I know he earned a lot of money last year and this year, all cash in hand. His attitude about paying for anything regarding our child is very disheartening, I just want him to show some kind of responsibility towards this situation like getting a lease and nice place to live and paying us $75 per week so we can all just parent and get along!

    I appreciate the weekend break down and will have that up my sleeve also. Again it really is not not wanting our child to have time with Dad. My main concern is safety and stability. Our baby is extremely sensitive and I know will not cope if the location is forever changing.
     
  10. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Of course, and honestly, I commend you for being so fair and reasonable in a situation that nobody ever asks to be in. Many parents come to this forum looking for ways to keep children away from the other parent, which only hurts the child.

    For many of us, spending time with the kids is made so impossible that it ends with a court battle and thousands spent on lawyers, rather than the kids. It sounds like you will be able to avoid that outcome easily, so keep up the good work. :)
     

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