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Long-distance noncustodial father wants child to stay in hotel with him during his infrequent visits

Your Question:
I am a divorced parent, my 5 year old child and mother live out of state. I can only visit 1-2 times a year for 3-4 days at a time due to the distance. I want to visit and take my daughter overnight while I'm there. Also my ex-wife has sole custody and does not want me to take her over night, but has not limited my visitation other wise. Do I have any ground to stand on if I want to take this to court

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My Answer:

I can understand your desire for that. However, I asked you to explain your thoughts on why this would be best for your child, since that is how the court makes decisions.

Your answer was, "More time together, less of the back and forth, more extended time to better build the relationship."

I don't know if your argument would sway a court. Merely sleeping 10 feet away from you isn't going to "better build the relationship", especially when you admit that the mother doesn't otherwise restrict your time with the child (e.g., a 10-hour day is very long time to bond with a child).

The mother would argue that you can come more frequently than once or twice per year if you were really interested in "building a better relationship" with your child. I think most parents and judges would agree.

I'm guessing that your work schedule or financial situation makes it tough on you to travel more frequently.

If spending more time with your child and leading to overnights is a goal, then I think you should approach this differently.

Ideally, you should try to see your daughter at least monthly. Or if not monthly, at least six times a year. There are buses, trains, rental cars with unlimited mileage, frequent flyer programs, etc. You can try to find sidejobs, buy stuff at garage sales and resell it, etc.

Even more ideal for your situation (i.e., if building a stronger relationship with your daughter is the biggest priority in your life) is to move to the city where the mother lives.

While finding a new home, new job, and moving would all be a huge hassle, you'll never have to pay travel expenses again.

But in the end, before you can start demanding overnights, I think you'll need to show that you're serious about maintaining a bond with this child, and than requires more frequent contact.

If you see the child 6 to 12 times in the next year, I think it'd be reasonable for you to go to the court and ask for orders that allow the child to travel to YOUR home during school breaks and a couple weeks during the summer.

Or, if you move to the mother's city, you can ask to revise the parenting plan so you see your daughter more frequently and build up to overnights.

But I just don't see you convincing a judge, with your current arrangement, that the child is best served spending the night in your hotel once or twice a year.

Sorry about that. I know bedtime and wake-up time are very special moments to share with one's child, but I think a court would be concerned you're just not around enough to put this young child at ease in a strange hotel for overnights.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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