Jef Goldtrap coming to you with another lesson about parenting time. This one is called work it out but write it down. Here’s where, Work it out but write it down, comes into play.
People come into my office sometimes and they'll say here is the court order. They will show me an Order from Circuit Court in a divorce case or Juvenile Court in a custody case. The court order may say that one of the parents is supposed to have the children on the first and third weekend of the month.
A conversation like this comes up often. Jef, I'm supposed to have the children on the first and the third weekend but you know my job changed and my days off changed from Saturday and Sunday to Sunday and Monday. My schedule also changed to mandatory Saturday hours on the first and third weekend. Guess what Jef, we worked it all out. Yeah! We agreed that visiting would now be the second and the fourth weekend on Sunday and Monday and we even shook hands. Everything was going well. We have been sharing the children on the second and fourth Sunday and Monday for the last four years. Okay that's great. Did you two ever talk to a judge? Cricket sounds….
Usually the imaginary conversation we just discussed comes up AFTER someone has tried to enforce the original order. Maybe one party decides they do not like the other parent’s new husband or wife. Maybe one of the parties says he or she wants to move and needs to see the children all summer from now on. Sometimes folks just start fighting for the strangest reasons or for no reason. As a weapon in the fight outcomes the original order that neither parent has been following for the longest time. Now there is a problem.
Why do we even have to have a court order about parenting time? Great question and it has a great answer. Nobody ever called a judge in the middle of the night from the hotel six and said me and this young lady are madly in love. We’re thinking about doing what is necessary to create a child. What do you think, judge? Nobody ever did that. Judges might tell you not to do the things that will create a child. Who knows? But needless to say nobody ever consulted the judge before creating a child. Do not feel badly if you never called the judge. Judges are not the only ones left out of the parenting loop. Nobody ever called me, as a lawyer, and said hey Jef you know I met this young lady at a party, I'd like to go to her house, and we may fool around and get pregnant. What do you think? Nobody ever asks me before the baby. They talk to be AFTER the baby arrives and someone, mom or dad, wants to argue about time with the little one.
So you've created children. Now you are parents. Maybe there's a parenting plan. Maybe there's an order from a circuit or juvenile judge. The order will set out the time the child should spend with mom and dad. This is your parenting time. With the best laid plans of Judges and parents life will happen. Now life has happened. Mom or Dad has a job change. Mom or Dad wants to move more than 100 miles away. Things have happened making you need to change the parenting plan. Okay, work it out. You became parents together. Work through this little problem together, as adults, as parents.
Maybe you have worked it all out, that's great. Write down what your agreement was. For extra points each parent signs the new agreement. Write it down because when this plan that you've worked out goes somewhere in a hand basket the judge is going to say here's the order that I wrote down a month or several years ago. The Order says you two were supposed to spend time with your children on such and such a schedule. You will speak up and say, well let me explain; judge we came to an agreement to change your order. If one of you says we agreed and the other one says they never agreed to anything what have you got? You have an agreement by one parent. An agreement of one person is called an opinion not an agreement. You got nothing.
Write it down. Okay? A written agreement WILL NOT trump the Judge’s order but at least it can be evidence that you had an agreement. It can help the judge to know that you did not just decide to ignore the Judge’s order and force the other parent to let you have your way. A written agreement is evidence that you two parents had an agreement.
Work it out but write it down.
This is Jef Goldtrap. Hope I've helped you. If I can help you just reach out to me.
Go out there and make it a great day