If you told me back in the day, I would be parenting girls from a distant land far far away; I would’ve laughed in your face and unfollowed you. A decision 18 months in the making and not a second of it was easy or painless.
The negotiations peaked as my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I marveled at the thought of taking our long distance relationship to the utmost level. Yes, moving to a life long commitment. Did I forget to mention the 1800 miles between us? How about the 8 children combined? Typically a man will make the jump to start the relationship. There’s nothing typical about our situation. The content we share come from real life experiences.
My husband has younger children therefore, the burden to move across the United States fell on me. To avoid a disruption to my children’s schooling and opportunities afforded by Florida public schooling, I decided for them to stay with their Dad (ex). I am not going to lie, it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. As I prepared for the move, a bunch of emotions and apprehensions waved through my thoughts. I did plenty of research to understand what my parenting time would look like. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what transpired.
A typical long distance parenting plan is simply structured – one parent has the children during the school year, the other parent has the child during most of the school year breaks. Everyone remembers the kid in their class that left the day after school ended to spend summer with dad. Shortly before school resumes he comes back to do it all over again the next year. I thought to myself, I can do better than that.
I arranged visitation at least 1 time a month to reconnect with my girls. Yes, it would include purchasing monthly flights, but the kids are worth it. It’s not fair to have every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. I decided to alternate them. I gave my ex time three days to pack the girls for the summer. I also gave him a weekend visitation in my neck of the woods. Where his family also resides. Originally, I had the girls return seven days prior to school but father insisted on fifteen days. It seemed like too much at the time, I was tired of going in circles and with hesitation agreed to it. This is a classic case of a 50/50 Joint Custody matter with extenuating circumstances that didn’t allow for complete equity. However, I felt confident the choices I made where in everyone’s best interest.
Father wants child support. Well that was a bit of a sticker shock at first with my newly acquired expenses. I decided to keep my rental house in Florida for my weekend visits. The girls enjoy having their toys, books, and beds. They feel they have a Florida home with mom and stepdad. The additional expense of monthly flights now has me operating at a deficit.
Guess what? Dad (ex) objected to THAT plan. What?!? Really?!? and Why?!? He filed for a court hearing to modify timesharing and child support. We were unclear of what more he could want. A deposition and an entire day in court to find out, he’s asking for more time. I know you’re probably thinking, “Where are you going to squeeze the time to add to his? He has 70% time sharing during the school year, every other Thanksgiving, and half of the Christmas break?”
So that means my primary parenting time, as a distant parent, is the summer. Lest, I remind you, he already has 3 days after school ends, 3 days visitation in my locale, and 15 days before school starts. The summer is only 59 days or 4 weeks. So again, a court of equity, you’d think would find this plan to be the most equitable given the circumstances.
The decision comes in. The court finds a week before school and a week before the trip to be reasonable. What does this mean? I still have no idea. I am not getting any help from the Honorable Nick Nazaretian in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Tampa. The court makes decisions with the understanding of the importance of both parents to be involved in the children’s lives. Did the Judge agree with my suggestion the father take his summer vacation immediately after school ends? Don’t know. He would have them before the trip. Did the Judge agree with my suggestion for us to take our vacation before school starts at his locale for the girls to be in Florida before school begins? Don’t know.
Or did the Judge intend to award Dad (ex) the following without any reason to diminish Mother’s Parenting Time:
3 days after school ends
3 days visitation in my local
7 days before trip
7 or 14 days (waiting for clarification)
7 days before school starts
46% or 57% Father Summer Visitation
What?!? I represent myself now. Honestly don’t know how this could happen and why. If you have any suggestions, please share. Share this post with everyone you know. I am not perfect. I am a GREAT mom. This is not fair or just and the legal system isn’t providing the help one would expect. My children deserve to have what they want and need. They want to be with their mom more not less.