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.
Be selfish and worry about you and your kids first!
For parenting time, especially if you currently don’t have 50/50, you will want to get to 50/50, or even better, as fast as possible. Loose wording in the document will allow your ex to drag out the transition for a long time. For me, it has now been over a year that she has said “I will send you my ideas” on a new parenting time schedule. You don’t want to have to spend thousands of dollars in court in hopes that you get more time. They are your children, and you deserve more time due to that fact alone! So, here are some topics and phrases that you need to consider in the final documents:
Evaluation of parenting time
“Parenting time will be evaluated each year based on X, Y, Z”
“Parenting time will start at 30/70 for the first year, then will go to 40/60 for the second year and will be 50/50 starting the third year and beyond.”
Make up time
If you travel for work and need to have your ex-wife watch the kids when it is normally your time, have wording in the document that will ensure you get that time back. A suggestion is to put wording such that the time can be made up within two weeks of the initial incident. An idea for that is for you to give your ex three alternate days and she must pick from those, or give you alternate days that work for her. No matter what, “hoping” to get the time back or hearing a verbal will never work!
When it comes to holiday time, try to keep it simple. Also, try to only include the holidays that are important to you, your ex, and your children. If you don’t care much about Halloween, then don’t include it. It just makes it very complex to juggle the children. Here are some suggestions for the different holidays:
- Alternate every other year
- Split the week in half (I suggest against this, as it really limits the ability for the children to enjoy the week or to go on a good trip with them)
- The parent with the preceding weekend gets the week with them
- For parents’ birthdays, just let the days fall where they fall
- For children birthdays, alternate yearly
- For children, split the day or have the parent without the children that day get two to four hours of time. This is not all that good when the child is in school all day, then must split up their remaining four to five hours after school with two parents.
- Alternate yearly which parent gets to have initial selection of weeks
- Select deadline for submission of dates and response to dates
- Have wording that describes what occurs if the deadlines are not met, i.e. if the ex-wife does not provide her weeks before submission deadline, the father gets to choose all summer weeks first. Also, if response to weeks is not received or questioned by deadline, parent may make reservations and plans that must be adhered to by other parent.
- Neither parent may have the children for more than two weeks in a row during summer break
- Alternate yearly
- Split up the weekend of Thanksgiving between parents. I hate this option, it really destroys the entire holiday!
- Alternate the entire week yearly
- Split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day yearly. This works OK, but has drawbacks.
In Part 2, I offered more tips including wording for alimony and child support. Part 3 addressed child care, overnights and remarriage.