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Summer Visitations

Posted by mariealways (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 12, 09 at 14:33

(this is long): DD is 9 and doesn't have a good relationship with her father, who lives in another state. He doesn't call her and she doesn't call him. He doesn't take the time to find out what is going on in her life. But there is a visitation order in place requiring her to visit for 6 weeks each summer and he always insists on enforcing his visitation. She has a miserable time each year and he complains about her. He has another son who lives with him and his live-in girlfriend and he and his girlfriend treat the son as if he is better than DD. She spends most of the 6 weeks in the house watching tv, while the son visits with his friends, goes to camp, and continues with his extracurricular activities. Well DD is a competitive athlete -- soccer and swimming -- both of which are year round sports. She competes at a very high levels in both. This summer she would like to attend swim camp, soccer camp, another non-sport residential camp and participate on a 3v3 soccer team (that is year round), but on which she cannot participate if she is unable to play the summer tournaments. Last summer, I asked him to get her set up with a summer swim team, but he did not. Again, she spent the summer doing nothing while the rest of her swim team kept training during the summer, the rest of her soccer team kept training and playing tournaments and leagues and going to camp. The result is that she was at a significant disadvantage in the fall. As she gets older, it will be even more of a problem. For example next year, she may not be able to get on a select/premier soccer team if he insists on 6 weeks visitation because she will not be able to participate in the select/premier tryouts, qualifying tournaments and practices.
She has been insisting all year that she will not go visit her father and that neither he nor I can make her. When we discuss summer visits and why she should go, she blames me for ruining her summers by having had her with him. I have asked him this year to allow her to compete in all of the camps and continue swimming and playing soccer and doing a 3 week visit, but he refuses. I am considering getting a lawyer, but fear I may just be wasting money. Any suggestions on what to do?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Summer Visitations

I wish I had advice to give you. I just wanted to tell you I am sorry for your situation. It sounds very rough. Many lawyers do give you an initial consulation for free maybe you could get some advice that way before deciding to procede.

If he has another child in the home that he is bringing to camps, etc I do not see why he will not do the same for his daughter! If I was you I would go online and check out his local park district and make some calls to the park district and local schools in his area to find out about soccer or swim teams/camps. Get all the info on prices, registration, practices, etc. Then present it to him and tell him that it is important to dd. Maybe he is just too lazy to seek out the info and if you present it to him he will do it? Maybe even offer to split the cost with him??

If he is not willing to let her participate in anything while she is there I would bring up that you and dd do not understand why the son is allowed to do these things there and she isn't allowed to do the same.

Or instead of spending 6 weeks there in the summer maybe you could get him to agree to only 3 weeks if you allow your daughter to go there for Spring Break or Christmas Break??


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RE: Summer Visitations

I feel for your DD. It seems to be more of a power play for you EX than a relationship issue with his DD. I think six weeks is extensive at her age. Especially since she and dad don't have a relationship any other time. That might be in your favor if you should try and get the decree amended. I think it is worth the effort on your part if you can afford it.

I know that it is not the same situation but my SD10 is originally from the west coast. She and dad moved to the Midwest when we married. Her mother has passed but her family and dad's all live on the west coast. For the last 3 years she has spent about 6 weeks each summer with them. This year she is getting braces....which require adjustments so her visit is not going to be as long. Her moms family isn't going to be too pleased with the change but they are going to have to get used to it. I have scheduled our vacations around them for the last 3 years and it is time to stop doing that. Plus, as your DD is experiencing, my SD10 is wanting to do other things during the summer. For example, since our marriage she has not spent a July 4th here. We would do a cook out, fireworks etc. if she were home. Last year she was with her grandparents and they didn't do anything. They do other great things with her but this 4th we want her home.

She has wonderful relationships with all of her family and I get along quite well with them and don't want that to change but....I am going to email them all soon that she is available after July 4th until about a week before school starts....around Aug 16th. As long as her ortho appts. aren't affected. I have let them know that her time there during the summer is going to lessen as she gets older......I'm the communicator in the family and that's ok with me.....I'm better at it than DH.

I hope that you can get things changed. It is hard enough to have them away for so long even when you know they are having fun but to know that she doesn't want to be there makes it really hard. Poor little girl. She wants to be home. She should be home. IMHO.


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RE: Summer Visitations

Maybe it's time to renegotiate the visitations, which you both should expect to do as your daughter gets older. Her needs and expectations change with age and she should not be stuck with an arrangement that doesn't work for her, no matter how much her father wants to stick it to you. This needs to be about her, not her father. Some week long visits throughout the year, rather than six weeks in the summer might be more appropriate.

I think your DD needs to tell her dad, not you, that she is not going to come for six weeks this summer. She needs to write out her reasons, too.

Ultimately, she's right, neither one of you can force her to make these visits, and as she gets older she will have the resources to resist - whether she makes these visits a living hell for her father and his son, or she runs away or whatever. You don't really want your daughter having to resort to these tactics to feel like she has some control of her life.

It's time to get a lawyer or family arbitrator to intervene and take a new look at these visits, her expectations, her father's behavior, his expectations, etc. and come up with a better solution for your daughter now and in the future.

Good luck.


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RE: Summer Visitations

Ultimately, she's right, neither one of you can force her to make these visits

That's not necessarily true. I don't know the laws in every state, but here in Texas, what the court decrees has to happen whether the kid likes it or not. The dad can take you to court if you don't send her.

The thing to do is hire a lawyer and see what it will take to get the visitation altered. Either to change the length/time of the visitation or to make the dad agree to sign her up for sports or whatever. That kind of stuff can be written into the agreement. We had some similar issues with boy scout camp on weekends where Dad had the kids, and some other similar stuff, and got it all written into the revised agreement.

It will cost money. You have to pay for the lawyer, (and so will Dad). If he won't agree you might have to go to court or get an arbitrator involved (for more $$). But it looks like it may be your only option.


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RE: Summer Visitations

We alternate Christmases and Thanksgivings and although the order doesn't requre it, I've told him he can now have every spring break (despite DD not liking that arrangement). He also gets birthdays but I dont think he's taken that the past 2 or so years.

Its the courts not being willing to do anything that worries me, particularly given his pathalogical lying. I have been lucky so far in that the judges and hearing officers usually see through his lies, but I hate going through it each time. It is always about him. He doesn't care about her, never really has. He does these things to be spiteful to me. He doesn't understand why she doesn't like him and blames me of course. The way he sees things, the fact that he shows no interest in her when she's home or visiting with him, doesn't want her to talk to me when she's there, badmouths her family, allows his girlfriend to mistreat her, etc. couldn't possibly be factors.

DD says she is going to talk to him and I have told him to speak to her and he says that he will. I'm hoping she gets him to see reason. Unfortunately, I think it will take being blunt to do that, and she is not that type and doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings, especially his as he cries to her all the time and I expect that that is what he will do when she tells him she doesn't want to go. She is too young to understand that his tears are fake and intended to manipulate.


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RE: Summer Visitations

The best way to convince the courts is to keep a written record of everything. Include everything: when she visits, what he says, what his gf does, etc. Write everything. If you can present that to the court, they are much more likely to see it your way.


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RE: Summer Visitations

I don't have any suggestions about what to do, but I just wanted to say that I hope you can find a way for your daughter to swim in the summer.

It's downright cruel to keep a year round swimmer from swimming summer league. That's a really, really fun time for them. If your husband isn't familiar with year-round swimming, he probably doesn't realize how hard she works and what a 6 week break does to serious competitive athletes. She probably doesn't sleep as well and her body may hurt from lack of exercise on a break that long.

I'm sure time with her father is very important, but he needs to find a way to keep her exercising on that break.

I hope you find a way to work it out.


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RE: Summer Visitations

I don't suppose you could move out there, not far from the father, for those six weeks, and take her yourself to sports activities?


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RE: Summer Visitations

No, I cannot move out there for six weeks. I work. And furthermore, it would actually make more sense for him to move out here permanently to stop the interruptions of her schedule and separation from her teammates and friends. Its not just that she wants to play sports on a random sports team during the summer. She wants to be at home with her friends and playing and training with her teammates. As I explained, she wants to be able to play on the 3v3 soccer team with her teammates, but can't if she cannot play with them during the summer qualifying tournaments. And next year it gets harder due to select soccer. She resents both of us for having to go. And things are difficult now but will get harder as the years progress. Given his lack of interest in her and her lack of interest in going, to me, he should just respect her wishes and allow her to come for only 3 weeks. Otherwise, if he wants to build a relationship with her, he should do so and move her. That's the way I look at it.


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RE: Summer Visitations

If she hates going there so much, why do you also opt to now send her there for spring break too? Could you find a sport program for her to enjoy at spring break?


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RE: Summer Visitations

We originally alternated spring break and mid-winter break, but then we moved to a different state that did not have mid-winter break. So to avoid going to court again, I agreed to let him have every spring break, which our new state would give him if we were to court. I try to avoid going to court with him as he is a charming pathalogical liar, and unless the judge or hearing officer is sharp, he tries to make me look bad by lying in a very charming way. And when it comes to visitation, I do not want to do anything to make him attempt to gain custody, which he tried before. I just dont trust the family courts. I make a lot more money than he does and he would love nothing more than me having to pay him child support so that he could improve his lifestyle while he made DD suffer in the process.


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RE: Summer Visitations

I have no experience with this situation. So take this for what it's worth. It seems to me that a custody arrangement cannot remain the same as a child grows. Their needs change, and that should be the guiding factor. It must be periodically updated in order to best maintain stability for the child. When a child is very young, their parents are their life, there are not other issues to consider. But as the child's world grows (school, sports, activities) parenting changes, so it makes sense that a custody arrangement would need to adjust, too.

So I guess I'm just thinking that it's not a matter of "IF" the arrangment will need to be reconsidered legally, but "WHEN." Sooner or later something will have to give. She isn't 6 anymore, and she won't be 9 forever, either. She is getting older, her voice needs to be heard in this situation. Sooner or later you will have to make new legal arrangements. Ah, growing pains, you can't avoid them.

I almost think I'd go ahead and get legal advice and get my ducks in a row, make the first move so to speak. It can't stay this way. It is an issue, a big one that will only get bigger, and it will have to be resolved one way or another eventually.

I think I'd leave any thing other than DD out of the discussion (as in, it has nothing to do with the half-brother). Just sit down with DD and her father, Skype, conference call, whatever, to give her moral support about expressing her feelings. Say, look, our little girl is growing up, and we need to work together to meet her changing needs. She needs to always have an open door for a relationship with you, but she needs these other activities in her life to help her be her best, too. Let's make a plan to make sure she gets both, not one or the other. Make sure your DD knows you believe in both, and that your ex knows you believe in both, not that you're substituting sports/friends for him in her life.

Your past experience tells you this will be a problem. If that's the case, the only way I see it is that it is unavoidable. Not IF, WHEN, you have to fight this battle. Just try to reduce the stress by making a plan that respects everyone.


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RE: Summer Visitations

Custody arrangements are always opened to modification. If he insists on the visitation there is not much that can be done about it until she's about 12 or so. Most states will take a child's preference into strong consideration around then. But I have heard of instances when courts will force a 17 to do visitation (with a drunk, nonetheless).

So go back to court and asked for a modification. Maybe three weeks in the summer instead of six. I know you hate court. Those of us who've been there a lot learn to HATE it passionately; I've found myself saying, "Is that $80,000 of back child support really worth going to court again for?" (yes, it is, I've persisted and the $80K is now down to $35K). I know the sickening, heavy feeling of 'going back to court'.

But as a parent, you have to advocate for your child. She has reasonable and healthy requests. Ask the judge for a modification. If the judge says no, then it's no. You don't even need a lawyer. Just file the motion (copy one your lawyer did for you) and simply make the request.

Which one of you moved away from the marital community? If it was him, he's more likely to lose; conflicts with her needs was something he should have considered when he decided to move. If you moved away, it's harder to defend.

He's a fool. This is going to make her hate him. Sooner or later she will have full power to make the decision. A few years of lording his rights over you and your daughter is going to have decades long repercussions. It doesn't matter if the eventual estrangement is blamed on you or not, the ultimate result will be, he will be left out of her life.


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RE: Summer Visitations

Well, he lied again. He said he would talk to DD about the summer visitations and try to work something out with me. I even emailed him making a few suggestions: 1) that she spend 3 weeks with him and that he spend 3 weeks with her here in an extended stay facility (which is very reasonably priced where we live -- that would allow him to attend some of her soccer tournaments and swim meets, neither of which he has ever attended); 2) that she spend 3 weeks there and that I give him a week during each winter break (she has two weeks off and he gets 1 in alternating years); 3) that we get a mediator to work with us to reach some agreement. He did not respond to my suggestions and instead emailed to say that he couldn't see agreeing to 3 weeks, but maybe if the 3 weeks were made up otherwise, including giving him the winter break every single year (so she would never celebrate Christmas with my family -- and he doesn't even celebrate Christmas, mind you). He is just playing games and being unreasonable out of spite.

DD has been getting very anxious about the summer. She said she isn't going, I can't make her and if I put her on the plane, she is going to find a way to sneak off the plane or run away when she has to change planes. :-( I don't think I have any choice but to file a motion for modification. Thanks to everyone for their advice and support.


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RE: Summer Visitations

Ex finally agreed to let DD stay for most of the summer, and without me having to go to court. Just as I was finalizing the pleadings, DD was kicked off her small-sided soccer team because of our inability to commit to the summer tournaments before getting a ruling in court. Of course DD was very upset. I found out that she sent her dad a polite (but angry) email, which prompted the offer to let her stay. He said that she could stay for the entire summer, but I told him she got kicked off and so could visit for 2-3 weeks. She is not happy with that, but I think its for the best, all things considered. This way, I am protecting myself for future disputes, which will require court resolution. Let's hope he makes her 3 weeks visit enjoyable this year.


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RE: Summer Visitations

I guess I am in the minority but I think the mother should be encouraging her DD to have a relationship with her father, not putting a higher priority on sports teams when she is only 9 years old!

I can't help but wonder how much of the little girl's resistance she is learning from her mother. I don't think it is necessary to play soccer all year round.

I would probably totally agreed with everything the OP said if she had said her DD was 14 or even 12 but 9????


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RE: Summer Visitations

stir fryi -- Well actually, she already got dropped from the soccer team (the second one she wanted to join, which is a small-sided team) and is staying to swim. She is a competitive swimmer and will be swimming in the state championships for her age division, which are in the summer. But, even with respect to soccer, where we live, soccer is fiercly competitive and is a year-round sport. She will be playing select next year and believes she wants to play soccer long-term. Whether she does is to be seen.

Finally, I think you missed my previous explanation about the relationship that DD has with her father, which has been building to the point that it has been since she was an infant and is now pretty much non-existent. He does not call her; she does not call him. They do not communicate via email or otherwise. She visits only because she has to. He no longer visits her outside of his court-ordered visitation. He is the type of father that unless he changes, will never have a relationship with DD because she will just never be the child that he wants her to be. When DD was younger, I used to encourage to the point of practically forcing her to call him regularly (mind you he rarely called) and to share things going on in her life with him. After a particularly awful 6 week visit last summer she explained all the reasons why she hated visiting, did not like him (mind you she explained it to him herself during spring break) and said she wasn't going to call him and asked that I respect her wishes to call him if and when she pleases. I am respecting her wishes. He makes no effort to have a relationship with her and that is his loss. He is an extremely selfish and domineering person and DD is an extremely strong-willed child. Do you see the problem? I could go into more details, but suffice it to say, he is not a good father and DD has made her mind up about that, not me. I am not exaggerating when I say she does not like him as a person. I do continue to remind her, however, that we can't choose who are family members are and must love him nonetheless. DD is not the type of child to be adversely influenced by anyone, including by me.

And yes, I am glad she will be staying. I would like her to remember summers as a great time in her childhood. Up until this point, she has not. She has always dreaded going, and but for the court order, I would have not forced her to go. She has blamed me for the last few years for forcing her to go. For the first time, she is looking forward to a happy summer spent doing things she wants to do, hanging out with her friends, and not being yelled at constantly, put on punishment almost every day or made to feel inferior to her half-brother. All things considered, you must forgive me then for not agreeing with you.


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