Need words of advice from other non-custodial parents

My son’s mother has decided that she is going to move out of state, to Philadelphia. This means that I will see my son (whom I already don’t get to spend much time with) even less.

When I do see my son, it will be a 2-3 hour drive each way. I really don’t think it is fair to my son to insist that he take that much time out of every other weekend travelling, nor is it fair that I commit 12 hours away from Ms. D_Odds and my step-daughter (who also don’t get to see too much of me, but more than my son).

I’d like to bring my son over more often in the summer (mother willing), but I take my responsibility to him very seriously. [I was promising myself I wouldn’t rant, so I’ll keep this piece short] My son needs supervision, moreso than my step-daughter, 3 years his junior. He has developmental and maturity issues (that are not being addressed as well as they should be), is quite headstrong, and would overwhelm the soft-touch of my step-daughter’s grandmother. He behaves well enough when I’m around, but still constantly shows signs that he will push the envelope too far when out of sight. How does his mother handle it, you ask? She ignores it (a-whole-nother set of issues, and not the purpose of this post).

Anyway, I’m wondering how other non-custodial parents with out of state children handle seeing their children. How often? How are transportation costs split, if not driving (not that it’s an option - all things considered, if I don’t pay, I don’t see)? How do you get involved with any activities (already very difficult - despite my begging and pleading to be kept in the loop, both mother and son consider 24 hours notice of something they knew 4 weeks ago advance notice) or follow up with school work?

Sorry for the mini-rant in this. I’m looking forward to some good 'Doper advice. Thanks in advance.

First, a few questions.

  1. I she allowed to move him out of state without your consent? I know of a few couples who have it stated in their divorce decree that they aren’t allowed to move the child(ren) XXX amount of miles away without the written consent of the other parent. If it’s not in the divorce decree maybe you could talk to a lawyer and tell him your concerns and see if you can stop her from moving.

  2. Is she moving to be spiteful? Is she moving to be closer to someone she’s dating? Why exactly is she wanting to move? The reason could come into play if you take it to a lawyer.

I’m divorced too and I’m the custodial parent but I wouldn’t dream of moving far away because my daughter really enjoys the time she spends with my ex (even though I still think he’s an asshole). :slight_smile: I wouldn’t move to be spiteful and if I ever did move I would have a damn good reason for it. I know a few people whose kids live out of state and they usually see the kids on major holidays and for a few weeks or a couple of months in the summer. My friend, Terry, used to have to drive from Kansas to Tennessee to pick up his kids. Sometimes his ex would meet him half way and sometimes she’d tell him if he wants them to stay with him he’d have to come pick them up. If they flew from Tennessee to Kansas he usually flipped the bill for the plane ticket(s) because his ex said she couldn’t afford it even though he was paying her $800/month in child support and her new husband made good money. He didn’t bitch about it too much because he really wanted to see his kids and if it meant driving all the way down there or paying for their plane tickets he did it. If she does go through with the move I would suggest having a lawyer draw up some papers stating that she has to meet you half way or pay half the costs and specify how often the visits have to occur. That way she can’t give you excuses why you can’t see your son because she doesn’t want to pay the costs or meet you half way. Make sense?

What you’re going through sucks but I really hope everything works out for you and your family.

I kept editing the bits about not being able to afford a lawyer, or that doing so would make things worse than better. While I don’t think the move is entirely spiteful, I do think part of it is to get away from people looking over her shoulder (my family, who want to help, mind you).

There is nothing about moving. If I were willing to shoot my own foot and able to pay for a fight, I could make a case that its better for the child to have family nearby (there is none where she is going - no support network at all). But then I become the wicked father preventing this and that and so on (we went down this road once already, when he was much younger - “Why are you being so mean to Mom?”).

I appreciate your support Kiki. I’m leaving out lots of details, because I don’t want to rant and whine (too much) nor give a one-sided argument. I expect I’ll be in the same boat as your friend regarding visiting - part of my gripe is visiting on holidays and vacation does not really fulfill the role of parent, but I’ll take what I can.

Kiki, I want to applaud you for your attitude. I wanted to vomit when my niece and nephew’s dad moved away. It was obvious that being close to them, thinking of their welfare, and caring about how much they needed him was about #26 on his list of considerations.

I am completely puzzled at why some parents find it okay to move away from their kids (or take their kids away from their other parent). I realize that sometimes one can’t help it or can’t turn down an opportunity, but some of the time it’s simply a matter of personal priorities, and the kids get put further down on that list than is comprehensible to me.

So no advice, but my hat is off to Kiki, and sympathy to D_Odds (and my admiration for caring so much about this).

My son is a state away. I have been the one who has initiated all telephone calls, and all travel to see him. Usually only a few times a year, but it is better than nothing. :frowning:

I feel for you, and know what it is like to constantly think about someone, but not neccessarily be there for them.

In this case, though, no one moved, it’s just that we live in different states.

I would try search for ‘child custody’ they have around 298 books…some of them look
just what you should read.

Another point of view.

Although it’s somewhat unusual, I was the non-custodial parent. My situation was different in that I was the one moving away in order to find employment; and in that my kids did not have the issues that your son seems to have.

I spent all of my expendable income on traveling to see them every other weekend. At the end of a year, I was able to move back to the city where they were.

But it was different. They were growing up. They were old enough to be getting invitations to weekend parties and sleep-overs, etc. They felt guilty asking to do something other than spend every weekend with me as they had before I’d moved away.

In some ways, if you’re the non-custodial parent, 3 miles away isn’t much different than 3,000 miles away - except that you don’t get to go to the school events and ball games at 3,000 miles.

When I relocated again, I found something interesting. Because I was physically distant, my kids told me things in our phone conversations, that they wouldn’t discuss with their dad. Somehow the distance made it “safe”. At times I’m convinced I knew more about what was going on with them then their dad did or than I would have if I’d been in the same house with them. More than once, I had to insist that they discuss something with their father because I planned to discuss it with him within some specified length of time.

We spoke often. Whenever possible they visited me; and I visited them. It certainly wasn’t the best of all possible situations, but we all came through it as intact as a fractured family can be.

I hope you find a solution that works for you.

Whatever terms you do agree on, write them up (even if there is no lawyer involved) and stick to them as if it is a federal offense to alter them by so much as a half hour. Don’t have anything casual about holidays or summer vacation, or make exceptions for extraordinary circumstances. If you do, visitation becomes something your son has to choose to do, and this can put all kinds of weird stresses on a kid.

A friend of mine’s dad was a nice guy, and was always willing to forgoe seeing her if something came up. Eventually, it became clear that if she didn’t want to see him, he wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, The problem was that to her mother, visiting her father for any otehr reason than legal obligation was a betrayal, and she expressed this in half a million passive aggressive ways. Rather than put up wit hthe passive aggressive punnishment the other six days of the week, she quit seeing her dad.
The moral of this story is that it is your job to maintain a relationship with your son, and you must work hard to make sure you never let it be his choice: it isn’t a choice he can fairly make.