My ex, another woman, and I agreed in principle to have joint custody of our two children, ages 13 and 11. We were legally married in 2008 after 13 years of living together, before Prop 8 was passed and our marriage is still valid.
We have not filed for separation or divorce to date. We have been living apart since June 2013. We agreed to a schedule of the kids spending the 2nd and 4th weekends and if there was a 5th weekend with me. During the school year one or both kids would spend weekdays with me on an ad hoc basis, that changed weekly, no constant. Some weekdays they would not stay with me. While my ex was out of town once they spent 5 consecutive weekdays with me.
We also agreed to split expenses for the children, not contest community property and each be responsible for the expenses in our individual homes. My ex did not work outside of the home for 5 years and I was the sole financial provider during that time.
Both kids have called crying at various times saying they miss me and want to spend more time with me. Since the start of this academic year they have stayed with my ex during the school week. My son, age 11, has stated that he wants to live with me full-time. My daughter has asked to spend a week night alone with me.
I moved out and live close to my ex, done intentionally and I am close to my daughter’s school.
The kids spent this weekend with me and I did a drop off at their other home Sunday night. After the drop off I sent the following text to my ex: “[Teenager] would like to spend Tuesday night. I can pick her up at 7pm and get her to school W. Is that ok? Also [boy] would like to spend a night solo too. Thoughts?”
Her response: “I am sticking to our regular schedule. Too disruptive otherwise. [Teenager] has testing all week.”
One thing I have learned in this process is to not react and respond immediately to her communiques. So I didn’t respond at all.
Two hours later I received a text from her: “[Boy] is trying to reach you.” I did respond that I would call him. I called him and he was hysterical and stated that the only thing that would calm him down was if he could live with me full-time.
My ex got on the phone and said in essence in front of the boy that she told him we could not decide on a schedule and that the judge would have to help us figure it out.
After the conversation I received the following text from my ex: “One night that could work for [boy] is Friday night.” There was more texting about disrupting his school schedule and I did not respond to the text.
I don’t think that the kids should decide with whom they stay, but clearly this transition is not working and seems “disruptive” to me. So to me the solution seems clear, he should stay with me during the week and perhaps that would be less disruptive. But clearly this is not a “conversation” I can have with my ex. I am reluctant to let the courts or more accurately a mediator decide on what to do, but clearly that is the next step. I will file for divorce and get the process started.
In my rush for marriage equality I did not think about the consequences of divorce and child custody issues. However, either way this would have ended up in family court. I have been talking to other separated parents about how they handle the physical custody aspect. I realize every circumstance is different, but support is needed.
I will continue to write and use this forum for support.
Love, peace, compassion and blessings.