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Stepmom wants to know how to ease father's transportation burden with exchanges

Your Question:
Currently my husband has joint legal and shared physical custody of his daughter (he was never married to the mother). His visitation schedule is every other Friday night and every Saturday through Monday night, and her mother has her every Tuesday through Thursday night and every other Friday night. My husband went through our lawyer and had the visitation changed to the current situation about a year and a half ago, and when he did that the child support was dropped as the mother would have been paying him (she makes more money). The child is getting ready to turn 5 and is starting a pre-K program in our school district, and her mother lives about 30 minutes away from us. Yet she is refusing to change visitation schedule, which means we have to drive back and forth 3 out of 5 days of the week to retrieve the child to put her on the schoolbus at our house, and to get her back to her mother after school. My husband has mentioned each of them getting her every other week, as her mother only works every other weekend. We also have a second child on the way (due in October) and feel that the situation is no longer just about the child and her mother, but what is best for us as well. I work every weekend, so my husband would be at home with both kids while the child's mother is off work but refusing to keep her (?). Does this seem messed up to anyone else??? Is there anything we should be able to do legally to change this visitation schedule? We just went to court Tuesday for an expedited hearing due to her starting school, and the judge basically told my husband to work something out with the mother based on transportation and not to come back for the custody hearing (his tone and attitude were very clear). It's like b/c she's a single mom, the judge felt sorry for her and put all of the responsibility on us. Any suggestions or advice? My husband is so frustrated that he can hardly talk to her!!!

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My Answer:

If this is the worst of your problems, you and your husband are in very fine shape. You obviously haven't read many of the posts on this website.

As you learned, courts don't want to hear parents coming to them whining about the responsibilities of being a parent. Transportation is one of those responsibilities-- and the judge emphasized that the parents should work it out (i.e., he didn't take pity on anyone).

I think I'm reading, from your post, that your husband is doing the transportation to/from the mother. If not, I misunderstood.

I'll point out that it's irrelevant to the situation that you're having a child. The situation existed before you two decided to have a child, so it's unfair to act like it's an overwhelming burden.

All of that said, here's what I would suggest you do.

Propose to the mother that each parent is responsible for transportation of the child during his/her custodial time. If the transportation occurs at the time of an exchange between homes, the receiving parent (i.e., the parent who is about to exercise custody) is responsible for transportation.

What I just outlined is a very common clause in parenting plans, and it's one that a court would likely order.

If the mother balks at those terms, I suggest that you then propose that she can pick up the child from your home whenever she gets around to it during her custodial time. In this fashion, you and your husband may end up taking care of the child on the mother's afternoons. If the mother can't pick up child because of her job, she needs to arrange for a caretaker (i.e., you or someone she hires).

Finally, one ace up the husband's sleeve is to suggest that if the mother refuses to help with transportation, he may need to look into child support to help with transportation costs.

I suggest that your husband make solid efforts to work this issue out with the mother. If she's completely unreasonable, he can go back to court and request the clause that I outlined above (i.e., shared transportation issues).

Before returning to court, order a copy of your recent court transcript through the court reporter (call the courthouse to find out how to do this).

Then, when you go to court, enter an exhibit of the court's previous words (in the transcript) instructing the two parents to work it out.

Also keep copies of email/fax/letter correspondence between father and mother. Show the court the father's attempts to resolve it, but to no avail.

Judge will probably then make orders to make the transportation fair.

But, I'll side with the judge that you gave no good reason to modify the time schedule. You simply asked for the wrong solution. The correct solution is just better transportation rules.


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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