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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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My daughter (14.5) is the product of a previous marriage.

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My daughter (14.5) is the product of a previous marriage. We recently went to court to modify the order to guarantee she would be able to attend a church summer camp each year (something the father was against due to religious differences). The order was modified, and at the same time, child support was modified as well (he was deliquent by 3 years.) Over the course of negotiations, state ordered child support per the worksheet was reported to be 540 + back support payments. He insisted he wanted more parenting time, twice weekly, three weekends a month, six weeks in the summer, but when this didn't bring down his support obligation per the worksheet, he opted for a choice we gave which was every other weekend, 2 weeks in the summer and Christmas every year for a greatly reduced child support amount. He fore-fitted any three day weekends or other vacation breaks, proving to the court that he was only worried about the cost of the child support. In the end, mother was awarded full legal fees (15K) and child was allowed to go to church camp every year regardless of the weekend obligation. The order was also modified to state, exactly, "As the child gets older, her desires and interests will need to be considered in arranging for the exact parenting time schedule. When the child is of such an age as to be mature enough to provide input into the parenting time schedule, the child shall be afforded that opportunity. The child's desires and outside activities shall be taken into account in determining the exact parenting time schedule."

So the question is she has reached a point where the weekend is filled with activities for school, NJHS (she's an honor student, of course), friends, etc. Additionally she will be starting high school next year. At what point does her age and activities afford her the right to make her choices? He is less than reasonable when it comes to changing weekends to accommodate activities, often accusing mother of scheduling them on his weekend to keep her from visiting his home (including a death of a grandparent...) When she gives him notification several weeks in advance of an event, he does not acknowledge the question which she usually presents in an email or text message. Is this something that needs to be taken to the court, or can she state she wants to stay home to attend xyz event, or modify the pickup time to attend xyz event?
If she is mature and understands the nature of her requests now and has legitimate activities, then this begins NOW and if he cannot understand her presenting these activities to him as grounds for rearranging the scheduled visitations, then you need to send him a letter quoting that paragraph above and telling him that this is exactly what the court meant and if you have to go back to file in court based on him being unreasonable, then he will be paying for more attorney's fees for you filing an order to show cause for contempt of court.

The courts expect reasonableness and if you can show the court her text messages and emails explaining he reasons to him together with you informing him of the clause in the order, the court is not going to be overly happy with his conduct and it will hit him again with attorney's fees.

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