By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D
Over the past few years I have had to go back to my Divorce Settlement Agreement and rely on what was “agreed” to in that document. There are times I am very happy, but there are other times I wanted to yell out loud because I agreed to such horrible wording and details.
In an effort to help my fellow divorced dads out there, I thought I would at least put together some wording phrases that I suggest you consider. You need to think about the future, not today. If the wording sounds corny, silly, or not important at the moment, that might not be the case in two to three years.
In Part 1, I wrote about tips on wording parenting time and holiday visitation. Part 2 discussed wording for picking up and dropping off the kids, education, alimony and child support. Today’s final part will address child care, overnights and remarriage.
I will keep this simple. It is my opinion that child care should be 100% of the responsibility of the person who is caring for the children. For example, I work from home and can care for the children 100% after they get off the bus and after school. I can also care for them during the summer 100%. My ex-wife has a live-in relative, who does not work. So, she has 100% free child care for the same time frame she has the children. For me, I can’t say “I pay myself $500 a month to care for my children after school.” However, she does say she pays $500 a month to the relative!
On the flip side, if both parents work, or one parent works and it is clearly a hardship that child care is expensive, then it is important to help carry that burden. I took this approach during my divorce and wrote it up this way in my document, and now pay her for $650 of phantom child care! We all know that trust is on pretty thin ice when it comes to ex’s!
This has been a real big issue for many of the divorced dads I know. The language in the current document clearly says that “the parent with the children must be with the children overnight, or the other parent has the first right of refusal to watch the kids during that evening.” I don’t mind this, however, there are some issues that I think should be considered.
First, if one parent does not abide by this and constantly has “others” (including live in relatives) watch the children, it is not fair to the other parent.
Second, if there is a remarriage, I feel that the new spouse (either way) should be allowed to care for the children overnight as a step-parent.
Finally, abusing the wording by having the children have a sleep over in order for the parent to not have to be home is borderline breaking the language in the document.
Considering all of these issues, I suggest NOT having the language in the document and the parent caring for the children is fully responsible for the children, even if they must hire someone to care for them overnight. If they can’t find someone, then they can call on the ex to help out.
I know that many of you read this and are thinking about marriage along the lines of “I will never do this again!” There is much validity in that statement, especially if you have gone through a nasty or harsh divorce. It is sort of like when women say they will never go through labor again, but end up with two or three children. Time does heal!
Anyway, I feel that there should be remarriage wording in the settlement document.
First, if the person receiving spousal support gets remarried, the spousal support should end immediately and forever.
Also, when there is now a step-parent involved for children, the parenting responsibilities for the one parent are shared by the step-parent. This will include overnight stays, pickup of the children, etc.
If your divorce is going smooth and you feel that you can trust your ex today and down the road, think again! If your divorce is rough and you know you can’t trust your ex, make sure you take extra precaution to protect yourself and your children. Make sure you look at every point in this article as well as any other areas that are important to you and your case. Review them with your attorney, talk with others that have been divorced, and make sure you use wording that works for you. Good luck!