Jason came to us after being served divorce papers from his wife of 9 years. They had two kids, a girl who was 4 years old and a boy who was 5 months old. His wife new Jason was a good dad, but was unwilling to let him have "her" children. Jason was emotional and distressed. He wanted to avoid courts, litigation, and attorneys. There was only one problem. His kids were everything to him, and he and his estranged wife simply did not agree on custody and visitation.
Jason's situation is not uncommon. Even parents that love their children completely, find themselves doing things that will ultimately harm their kids while going through a custody battle. However, there is a way to navigate this seemingly impossible situation, and that is exactly what we did with Jason.
We first had to figure out what Jason’s goals were, then we discussed what events or people were keeping him from meeting his goals. The most important thing to Jason was that he see his kids. Second, he wanted his kids to have a healthy relationship with both parents.
When Jason first came to me he had moved out of the house and was staying with a buddy in an apartment. The situation was temporary, but never-the-less, not suitable for his two children to stay with him for extended and regular times. Jason was able to find an apartment in the same school district as the marital home. This was crucial for developing the type of visitation plan that Jason wanted.
The next problem was that Jason worked many nights and weekends. He didn’t always know what his work schedule would be, and sometimes he would be gone for days at a time. Admittedly this is one of the reasons his marriage fell apart. Jason was able to find local employment with a regular work schedule. His new job allowed him to be at home with his kids each night, and provided the type of stability we needed for developing the type of visitation plan that Jason wanted.
Jason had cured his deficiencies, the only problem was that mom was still not on board with being away from her children. This is sometimes tough for parents. Jason agreed that she was a good mom and he did not want to take the kids from her. However, he was a great dad and wanted to spend frequent and meaningful time with his kids. Mom was never on board with the visitation, but through a hearing we were able to convince the Court that a 2-2-3 plan was in the children’s best interest.
A 2-2-3 plan gives each parents two overnight visitations during the week and alternates the weekends with each parent. Jason had Monday to Wednesday and every other Friday to Monday. This plan placed the two children with him 50% of the time. While this was difficult for mom in the beginning, she was able to adjust, and the two parties eventually came to a mutual agreement and full settlement.
Today both parents are extremely happy with their visitation plan. In the end, they were able to make the decision to split time with the kids. The kids are happy and doing well in school, and Jason and his ex-wife speak to each other… without yelling. Divorce is difficult, and not every case turns out like Jason’s. The important thing to understand is that your goals need to always be in your mind. At times Jason wanted to be difficult and not allow reasonable changes to the plan, but after careful consideration and focusing on our end goal, he decided that the relationship with his ex-wife was more important than the feeling he had at that moment.
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