Dear Famularo & Associates:
I have a daughter who is almost 16 (December) and is frustrated with the visitation schedule currently in place between her father and I. She would like more say in how often she is required to see him if possible. The current agreement has been in place for approx. 4 years with the following basics: Father on 1st, 3rd, 5th weekends, one week at winter and spring break, plus 3 total weeks (in a one week and a two week time spread). This equals approx. a 25% / 75% split.
My issue is can my daughter get a job that would most likely require her to work weekends and summers in the future. She is also very involved in high school activities that require after school and weekend participation. I have and will continue to have to switch my 2nd and 4th weekends with her father if she has activities on his 1st, 3rd or 5th weekend as he often refuses to allow her to participate unless I agree to a switch of time.
Do I have any potential to get visitation revised now that my daughter is older and wishes to be involved with school, and soon a job? Her father is inflexible to changes as I have tried to discuss this matter in the past. I want my daughter to have a great relationship with her father and am not looking to stop visitation, just modify it. Our original divorce and visitation occurred in San Diego and finalized April 1999, along with the revision 4+ years ago, with the provision that I have physical custody of my daughter in Riverside County. Please let me know if you have any insight.
R.A. in Riverside
Your daughter is of an age that her desires carry great weight with the court. Once a child is of sufficient age and maturity, the court will listen to the wishes of the child. Since your daughter is nearly 16 years old and in high school, I honestly would not spend the money to go back to court. At this point in her life, she is old enough to take control of her own relationship with her father. She should dictate when she sees him, not you and not him.
I would tell your daughter that she is now a young adult and you will no longer force her to go to her father's house. You should require her tomake plans directly with her father. Encourage her to see her during her free time, but let her know it is okayto have a life outside of her parents. She will have to be the one to tell her father she is busy, though.If her father asks, tell him that he needs to start making plans with his daughter directly, but that she is a busy, normal teenager, who doesn't want to be with either one of you and it is time for him to work around her schedule, not the other way around.
If her father will not honor your daughter's wishes, and causes trouble for your daughter by physically attempting to force her to visit, or calling the police and embarrassing your daughter, you will have no choice but to file paperwork with the court requesting a modification of visitation. Since your divorce took place in San Diego, you will have to file your court papers in San Diego, even if you are currently living in Riverside.
Famularo & Associates