photo credit: eonline.com
After separating, I thought it was best to create a custody agreement so there was no foolishness on visitations, holidays, etc. Due to all of the continual It was in anticipation of foolishness and just as I predicated it became a debacle. If you have an attorney he or she will petition the court for a custody agreement for minor children. The next step is attending a mandatory parenting class, it states mandatory but for some people they just decide to not show up.
Although it took time out of my schedule, I still made the effort to attend as stated by the courts. It is a one and a half hour group class in which you watch a video. The video covers topics related to custody of minor children such as how to make visits productive, what conversations are off limits, setting rules for separate households, and introduction of new relationships, etc. The class reviews some of the emotional issues encountered with raising child(ren) in separate households. I thought it was very helpful in terms of covering issues you may not think about or consider.
Specifically, it covered when it is appropriate to introduce a new relationship to your child(ren) and the suggestion was after 2 years of separation. Separation can be extremely traumatic for some children of various ages and I guess the intention is to minimize any other complications and drama. I have found this with my older child over the course of the past two years. He was encouraged to accept external children as his siblings. Why introduce conflicting issues when a child(ren) under these circumstances have enough to deal with on a daily basis? A source of foolishness for the other parent to unravel. I digress….
I always say in an ideal world this should work flawlessly if you are dealing with reasonable and sensible parties. After the parenting class, we were assigned to a mediator who is usually an attorney who solely handles mediation. I elected to do the mediation with the mediator and the other party called in to the conference. During the mediation you establish who will be the custodial and non-custodial parent, who the child(ren) will reside with on a full-time basis. After this determination, the parents determine a visitation schedule, for some parents they may choose week days with transport to and from school or weekends. It is up to the parents to reach an agreement on exactly how to schedule their time. Our agreement included every other weekend with designated 7PM pick-up on Friday and return on Sunday at 7PM. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were a given with the designated parent. The other major holidays Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring break (if applicable) was assigned odd years for one parent and even years for other parent. Once the mediation is over the custody agreement is filed with the courts and signed off with the judge. When issues arise with the children it is each parent’s responsibility to inform the other parent.
Initially, the every other weekend schedule worked like clock work and then it gradually went downhill. The pick up and drop off times were not adhered to. For less than a year there was a custody agreement until I petitioned the court to have the agreement modified. I felt like there needed to be adherence to being on time for pick up and drop off. Also maintaining the holiday schedule according to the agreement and giving the other parent proper notification if there was a conflict with their designated weekend. Informing the other parent a week before your designated weekend is unacceptable. Also having the agreement set a neutral drop off and pick up for the kids was another issue. These situations open up so many opportunities for creating unneccesary BS! It started to become overwhelming with the constant inconsistency and then having the children return with conflicting stories on who was taking care of them and when. It is amazing that even with the judge signing off on a custody agreement individuals take it upon themselves to whatever they please. It was never a win-win situation. For a year and a half there has been no formal custody agreement after the next designated weekend in May last year was ignored I just stopped bothering.
If a parent is serious about spending valuable time with their child(ren) it is their responsibility to adhere to a schedule. This was another example of foolishness endured when not dealing with reasonable and sensible.
Now fast forward to the Halle Berry/Olivier Martinez/Gabriel Aubry story that created a media frenzy a few weeks ago. First of all there has to be some tension simply due to a recent petition for Halle and Nahla to move to France permanently to avoid harassment by the paparazzi. Well the petition was denied by the judge. Halle’s new fiance Olivier Martinez is French and so it all makes sense in an ideal world, right? If the biological father lives here in the US, what would make this an option based on the paparazzi harassing the biological mother? All parents have the right to establish visitation with their child(ren). As I stated above you have to be one step above the potential for foolishness. If an amicable relationship was never established between the biological father and fiance, why was there any interaction? Based on the photographs of Gabriel’s face and Olivier’s hands, there was some deep rooted tension stemming from somewhere. The fact the new fiance wants to move his child to France, could this be it? In cases like this a designated neutral drop off and pick up should be established. After evaluating the incident, I think all the adults involved crossed the line and set a poor example for the child involved in the custody agreement. The child(ren) should always be the priority of the parent’s external decisions. Based on my own experience, it is best to minimize the stress on yourself. Therefore proceed with caution when introducing a third party into a custody situation.