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Separation Agreement

Sally24 posted 6/11/2021 11:24 AM

I presented a first round Separation Agreement that my lawyer drew up to my WH a week or so ago. He doesn't have a lawyer and it's a toss up as to whether he'll ever get one or not. He's looked over it with the help of someone (a friend, I guess) and emailed me back last night with a list of items in response. We haven't sat down and discussed anything, and I forwarded his list to my lawyer without commenting on it in order to get her impression without my thoughts biasing her beforehand.

I'd like to get your thoughts and opinions on a few child-related items as well, if you please. Our children are both 14, just finished 8th grade.

1. So, WH very often traveled for work. He has barely traveled at all since Covid, but I think it's reasonable to expect that he really could travel again at any time. I had it put in the Separation Agreement under Child Custody, that if either of us travel for work during our regular custodial time, we are not entitled to make-up time unless mutually agreed upon in writing. He's come back with wanting to be compensated for a percentage between 25% - 40% of the time he would miss with the kids when traveling for work.

2. He says there needs to be a statement that neither party may discuss the terms of the separation with the children at any point.

3. According to my lawyer, the standard child custody schedule is 2-2-5-5. WH says that's too much back and forth for the kids and would prefer a 7 day schedule. What are your experiences with schedules that work best for your kids at this age and why?

prissy4lyfe posted 6/11/2021 11:45 AM

Hi Sally,

I wouldn't budge on the make-up time clause you have. These are teenagers who make plans and it isn't fair to change their schedule without their input. In a few years, they will be driving and they can make visitation plans on their own.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES agree to not discuss this. Kids ask questions and you don't want to be painted into a legal corner of not answering their questions.

For the schedule, I would say at their age week on and week off is fine. I would put a Wednesday night dinner in the agreement for the parent whose week it's not.

Also make sure to address tiebreakers...who will make the decision if you guys can't agree on something medically, mentally, and school-wise.

Catwoman posted 6/11/2021 12:17 PM

I, too, had a WH that traveled constantly for work. He was dumb enough to make a huge fuss about "needing to travel on a moment's notice" so it was put in our separation agreement that he had to give me 48 hours notice. Came back to bite him in the butt when he tried to make a case about being flexible and wanting more parenting time so he could reduce child support.

1. So, WH very often traveled for work. He has barely traveled at all since Covid, but I think it's reasonable to expect that he really could travel again at any time. I had it put in the Separation Agreement under Child Custody, that if either of us travel for work during our regular custodial time, we are not entitled to make-up time unless mutually agreed upon in writing. He's come back with wanting to be compensated for a percentage between 25% - 40% of the time he would miss with the kids when traveling for work.

I wouldn't budge on this one. If he is crazy enough to make travel plans during his parenting time, then he doesn't get to make it up unless it is beneficial for you. Be careful here, because it might mean that he's not going to work with you if you have a situation, so do bear that in mind.

2. He says there needs to be a statement that neither party may discuss the terms of the separation with the children at any point.

This is pretty standard (and often violated).

3. According to my lawyer, the standard child custody schedule is 2-2-5-5. WH says that's too much back and forth for the kids and would prefer a 7 day schedule. What are your experiences with schedules that work best for your kids at this age and why?

How old are your children? If they are elementary school and younger, a week is too long to be away from one of their parents. If they are older, it may be easier to do a week on/week off. However, if he does get back to traveling, this could be an issue (which works in your favor).

What was his travel schedule prior to COVID? It might be helpful to your attorney to give them a glimpse into just how much you had to fill in while he was gone.

Cat

BluerThanBlue posted 6/11/2021 13:28 PM

In all these examples, I think you should ask your lawyer what is customary in your state/area because that will give you an idea of where there is room for negotiation and where you (or he) are completely in the right.

But here's my personal opinion on your questions...

1. So, WH very often traveled for work. He has barely traveled at all since Covid, but I think it's reasonable to expect that he really could travel again at any time. I had it put in the Separation Agreement under Child Custody, that if either of us travel for work during our regular custodial time, we are not entitled to make-up time unless mutually agreed upon in writing. He's come back with wanting to be compensated for a percentage between 25% - 40% of the time he would miss with the kids when traveling for work.

The pros of being flexible with him about this issue are (1) you might need him give you some leeway in the future as well if you need to informally modify any parenting time arrangements and (2) as you move from a dual-parent household to a single-parent household, you're going to need that make-up time just to have a break or get things done.

The cons are (1) it puts you in the position of having to rearrange your life according to his availability, (2) the kids are teenagers and they are going to have their own plans and commitments that could potentially be disrupted by this, and (3) you would have to be really diligent about tracking the days you give him to makeup the time so you can't be accused violating the agreement.

2. He says there needs to be a statement that neither party may discuss the terms of the separation with the children at any point
.

I don't think you should agree not to discuss the terms of the separation agreement. There are certain things that your kids will need to know about, such as why they're spending x days with dad and y days with you.

If he's concerned about you bad mouthing him, you can agree to add a non-disparagement clause to the agreement, which achieves essentially the same thing but doesn't refrain you from speaking about the practicalities of life that are covered in the agreement.

3. According to my lawyer, the standard child custody schedule is 2-2-5-5. WH says that's too much back and forth for the kids and would prefer a 7 day schedule. What are your experiences with schedules that work best for your kids at this age and why?

I agree with him on that point, but I also think that your kids are old enough now to have their opinions factored into this part of the agreement. Do they prefer the convenience of the 7-day schedule (since there's less frequent back-and-forth between homes) or do they not want to go more than 5 days without seeing their other parent?

Sally24 posted 6/15/2021 12:14 PM

Thank you for your input.

1. So, WH very often traveled for work. He has barely traveled at all since Covid, but I think it's reasonable to expect that he really could travel again at any time. I had it put in the Separation Agreement under Child Custody, that if either of us travel for work during our regular custodial time, we are not entitled to make-up time unless mutually agreed upon in writing. He's come back with wanting to be compensated for a percentage between 25% - 40% of the time he would miss with the kids when traveling for work.

My lawyer actually didn't understand his request.

I think "unless mutually agreed upon in writing." pretty much covers it, it's not like I'm shutting him down and there's no chance of flexibility. I just don't want him to expect it. Does that make sense?

At the peak, he used to travel every week and be home most weekends. He's worked this job longer than the kids have been alive. That schedule had been subsiding before Covid hit, he'd maybe be out of town only half of the time.

2. He says there needs to be a statement that neither party may discuss the terms of the separation with the children at any point.

My lawyer also said this was standard and always included. There is also already a disparagement clause in the agreement.

As far as the schedule for the children, I don't think I have a problem with the 7 day schedule, either. I could see dd not liking the constant back and forth; ds is less openly opinionated. I'm not sure quite how to include them in this decision without putting pressure on them to make too many choices, but I'm also going to talk with dd's therapist before we tell them about separation and I need to get ds a therapist as well.

Catwoman posted 6/15/2021 12:25 PM

I think "unless mutually agreed upon in writing." pretty much covers it, it's not like I'm shutting him down and there's no chance of flexibility. I just don't want him to expect it. Does that make sense?

Total sense. Otherwise, he will relish watching you spin around his schedule and he will expect you to be at his beck and call. I would also write something in about the minimum amount of notice you need in order to cover for his parenting time. This needs to be written so that you aren't always on the hook for covering for him--ask your attorney for some creative ideas.

Another thing to consider is how much control he has over his schedule. If he can control most of his travel, that's one thing. If his travel is outside of his control (i.e. airline pilot schedule), then that is another. If he has control over his travel schedule, then this assumes he can choose non-parenting time for much of his travel time. This is important.

I would document scrupulously the amount of time you have to cover for him (and vice-versa), how much notice you are given and how much parenting time he misses. This may be very valuable when you want to amend the custody and child support order, particularly if he is 50/50 on paper and more like 20/80 IRL.

Cat

james023 posted 6/16/2021 07:55 AM

NO SOLICITING

[This message edited by SI Staff at 10:38 AM, June 16th (Wednesday)]

dogcopter posted 6/16/2021 09:13 AM

^What's with previous comment from James023?^ ^Get this guy out of here^

We are going to do the 2-2-5-5 schedule. It made a lot of sense to me because the days are consistent week to week and the only thing they need is to know which weekend is with whom.

We haven't done it yet. I'm still awaiting the go ahead from my lawyer to move out (it's close!). I will make a new topic at some point detailing my experience with it.

As far as discussing the terms of the separation with the kids, I kind of get it. the terms of the separation itself are between you and WH only.

This seems separate from discussing your relationship or what went wrong in the marriage with the kids. I firmly think those things shouldn't be discussed with the kids either, but I think you have a right to if you want to and you shouldn't waive that right.

Good luck OP

[This message edited by dogcopter at 9:17 AM, June 16th (Wednesday)]

dogcopter posted 6/16/2021 11:43 AM

thanks SI Staff

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