My wife has a son from a previous relationship. He's lived with me since he was 1. His biological father has always lived about an hour from us. We have always split driving responsibilities for any time he spends with his son. We will either drop off or pickup depending on schedules.

A few months ago, he moved 6 hours away from us. He is demanding that we still drive 50% of the time. I do not think this should be our responsibility.

I do not know if this forum can accept legal questions or not, and I don't want to post something off topic.

So if legal issues are allowed, then feel free to comment on this situation. If not, then my question is simply to ask if others are in this situation, and what you have done to try and resolve it.

  • 2
    Growing up, that's usually how it worked for us. Usually it meant meeting at an approximate halfway point, rather than taking turns making round trips. No one wants to have to drive for that many hours at once.
    – user11394
    Feb 18 '15 at 22:51
  • Sure, I don't blame him for not wanting to drive that far. But it I moved that far, I would not expect the other party to do the drive for me. I'd expect to do all of the drive and it would be a factor on if I moved or not. Maybe I'm wrong though. I'm still agreeable to the original drive. Just not 12 hours (round trip).
    – Paul
    Feb 18 '15 at 22:59
  • 1
    What is the custody arrangement right now? 50%? Every other weekend? Feb 18 '15 at 23:35
  • 1
    I'm curious, how is Summer handled? Does he spend a lot more time at his bio father's? Could a more comfortable driving arrangement for you be "negotiated" by increasing Summer visits?
    – user11394
    Feb 19 '15 at 15:47
  • 2
    From a legal standpoint, there may or may not be something in the court order about it. However, this is more of a "grown ups need to work out the logistics". You have multiple options. You all need to sit down and explore them.
    – PiousVenom
    Sep 9 '16 at 14:57

One parent shouldn't necessarily be "punished" for moving away. They have their own life, needs, job opportunities, love interests, etc. that impact their decision on where to live. It's unrealistic to expect the parent that doesn't have the child living with them to stay tied to one geographic area.

Making the parent that moved carry a bigger burden may seem fair, but it's actually as unfair as telling the parent that didn't move to also move. (Which also happens, when the primary custody parent moves hours away. The secondary custody parent often has to "deal" with it by putting up with increased driving, or moving themselves.)

It may be an unfortunate situation for you, because of increased driving time and expenses, but that's not how it should be looked at. This is really about the child and his ability to visit his father. If you have the financial and physical means to drive to the father's, then you should be willing to do that. You've been very fortunate thus far that the father has been closer, and you've been able to split the costs. That definitely makes it easier on your son. But that luck does not confer a right.

I think it's also important to keep in mind that the father's decision to move wasn't because he isn't dedicated to his son. These days, a 6 hour drive isn't really that far. His attitude of "demanding" is definitely poor, but you'll need to try to be objective about it.

In summary:
You should be willing to split the drive, or even do most of the driving, if that's what's necessary for your son to maintain a healthy relationship with his biological father. Any set up that requires you to do less than 100% of the work should be considered a perk, not a right. Ideally, the father should also have this same mindset.

  • 2
    I think you hit the main point: The visits are not only for the sake of the father, they are mainly for the sake of the child. Seen in that light, the situation looks different.
    – sleske
    Sep 9 '16 at 8:22
  • The father made a decision, and he certainly weighed in the issue with distance and the additional costs/time required to see his son. If he is not willing to pick up his son, are we sure that the father really wants to spend time with him? I certainly wouldn't expect my ex-wife to take my son to me or split costs, no matter how far away I live.
    – daraos
    Sep 10 '16 at 9:07
  • @daraos Keeping one person bound to a region, with whatever opportunities it may or may not have, isn't reasonable. Why shouldn't they split the cost? It was okay to "always" split the drive and costs before, when it was convenient for mom/stepdad. Now that it's inconvenient for everyone involved, it isn't worth it? To me that seems to devalue the relationship of the son with his biological father. We also only get one side of the story, here.
    – user11394
    Sep 10 '16 at 20:32
  • @CreationEdge I sure was a bit harsh when I questioned the father's will to see his son. As you said, we don't know his version. As for splitting costs, where's the limit? What if the father moved out of the country, or from New York to Los Angeles? At which point do you say it's too much? For Paul, 6 hours seems to be that point.
    – daraos
    Sep 10 '16 at 20:39
  • @daraos It really depends on the means the parents have to accommodate the situation. At some point it would just be completely beyond someone's or everyone's resources to make happen. I guess I should say that 50/50 isn't necessarily ideal, but some equitable, not necessarily equal, compromise should be made.
    – user11394
    Sep 10 '16 at 20:47

If there was a custody settlement, it should cover this situation, ideally specifying where pickup and dropoff occur.

If it's not specified, the most normal arrangement is for each party to pick up the child for their custody time, since that prevents a delivering party from delaying and cutting into the other party's time.

This means that the noncustodial dad should pick up on Friday, and you should pick up on Sunday. The pickup times should be the same - 6pm, midnight, whatever - so the increased commute cuts into both parties' custody time equally.

With that as a starting point, you could negotiate something else - perhaps an intermediate turnover point - if that's more convenient for both of you.

  • Considering the actual amount of time and money involved, it seems a visit to one's divorce attorney is a good place to try. I like this answer.
    – Stu W
    Sep 11 '16 at 1:39

Your son is 12. It seems to me that he is old enough to make his own decisions about when to visit his dad and also old enough to use public transport on his own to cover the majority of the trip.

  • It's a 6 hour trip in a regular vehicle. You put that into public transportation and you're looking at probably 8 hrs. You don't put a 12 year old on a bus for 8 hrs alone.
    – PiousVenom
    Sep 9 '16 at 14:54
  • 1
    You can certainly put a 12 year old on a plane alone if there is a parent to put him on and a parent to take him off at the other end. Would the same thing not work with a train or bus?
    – Warren Dew
    Sep 9 '16 at 20:57
  • 1
    @WarrenDew A plane has limited opportunities to enter and exit, a bus usually makes many stops. Airlines also provide extra attention (for a fee) in that the flight attendant keeps an eye on the child until turned over a parent, which I do not believe a bus driver would take responsibility for. Haven't got any information on minors riding the train.
    – Acire
    Sep 9 '16 at 23:58
  • @Erica The unaccompanied minor treatment on airlines, for a fee, is only required for children 5-11. 12 year olds are by default treated like adults as far as the airlines are concerned.
    – Warren Dew
    Sep 11 '16 at 19:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.