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Ambiguous Custody Agreement Includes Church Clause

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RunToTheEdge

New member
I am in Texas, USA. I am looking for the community's opinion on a custody agreement's wording: how would a court interpret it? My wife and I are trying to decide how strong our case is to renegotiate the agreement that includes my stepson traveling 45 mins each way between households up to three times a week.

The back story: I recently married my wife who has a ten year old son, now my sole stepson. She and the dad landed on a custody agreement a few years ago. The relationship with a dad is not very amicable, it's unlikely we can work this outMy stepson stays with us most of the time and the following is the verbiage for dad's rights to access my stepson:

For the period starting June 11, 2016, it is ORDERED that <DAD NAME OMITTED> shall have the right to possession of the child at the following times:

1. Wednesdays – Every Wednesday, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. that same day.
2. Weekends – On the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month, beginning at the time the child’s school is dismissed, or 6:00 p.m. when school is not in session, and ending the following Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
3. Dad shall have access to the child for purposes of ensuring the child’s attendance at first communion and confirmation. Dad shall provide written documentation of the church’s class schedule at least 30 days in advance of the first class.
It's this church clause, #3, that's going to play out to be a big thorn in our side: it turns out this communion / confirmation is a multi-year process. The classes are held for two hours every Sunday for the entire 9-month school year for THREE YEARS straight. So while we would normally have my stepson two weekends a month, now he must go to his dad's on Sundays even on our weekends.

Between the clause about Wednesdays and now Sundays, too, we'll be unable to take him on any vacations! This feels like such a bummer.

So our line of questioning is this:

* given the verbiage, is there any opportunity for us to not have to lose access to my stepson every Sunday morning for the next three years?
* If we want to go on a family trip how can we ensure we're not faced with contempt of court?
* Is there an argument here that this agreement is disruptive to the child?

All in all my wife feels she made a considerable amount of concessions in this agreement including the dad paying two thirds what is standard in our state in addition to all these various times he gets visitation, so our primary goal here is whether it's going to be worth going back to court to renegotiate this agreement.

Thank you for your time.
 


Just Blue

Senior Member
I am in Texas, USA. I am looking for the community's opinion on a custody agreement's wording: how would a court interpret it? My wife and I are trying to decide how strong our case is to renegotiate the agreement that includes my stepson traveling 45 mins each way between households up to three times a week.

The back story: I recently married my wife who has a ten year old son, now my sole stepson. She and the dad landed on a custody agreement a few years ago. The relationship with a dad is not very amicable, it's unlikely we can work this outMy stepson stays with us most of the time and the following is the verbiage for dad's rights to access my stepson:



It's this church clause, #3, that's going to play out to be a big thorn in our side: it turns out this communion / confirmation is a multi-year process. The classes are held for two hours every Sunday for the entire 9-month school year for THREE YEARS straight. So while we would normally have my stepson two weekends a month, now he must go to his dad's on Sundays even on our weekends.

Between the clause about Wednesdays and now Sundays, too, we'll be unable to take him on any vacations! This feels like such a bummer.

So our line of questioning is this:

* given the verbiage, is there any opportunity for us to not have to lose access to my stepson every Sunday morning for the next three years?
* If we want to go on a family trip how can we ensure we're not faced with contempt of court?
* Is there an argument here that this agreement is disruptive to the child?

All in all my wife feels she made a considerable amount of concessions in this agreement including the dad paying two thirds what is standard in our state in addition to all these various times he gets visitation, so our primary goal here is whether it's going to be worth going back to court to renegotiate this agreement.

Thank you for your time.
Please read this link. Thank You...



 

GoldenDogLover

New member
My son is 10.

I had a previous custody agreement when my son was younger that was more in my favor, just weekend visitation. But when my son informed me he was being abused I reported to CPS but their findings were inconclusive. We got back in court, over the course of two years, his dad's lawyer added clauses I did not agree with. I insisted that the clauses were unfair but my lawyer told me these weren't worth fighting, that I could change it later if needed, and that I should accept the terms presented. It was a very draining process, emotionally and financially, and I eventually agreed to the terms my lawyer recommended.
 

Just Blue

Senior Member
My son is 10.

I had a previous custody agreement when my son was younger that was more in my favor, just weekend visitation. But when my son informed me he was being abused. I reported to CPS, but their findings were inconclusive. We got back in court, over the course of two years, his dad's lawyer added clauses I did not agree with. I insisted that the clauses were unfair but my lawyer told me these weren't worth fighting, that I could change it later if needed, and that I should accept the terms presented. It was a very draining process, emotionally and financially, and I eventually agreed to the terms my lawyer recommended.
Do you have an attorney at this time?

BTW: Thank You for joining...Tell Hubby I said thanks as well. :)
 

t74

Member
A different lawyer than you formerly used is suggested.

Investigate whether there are alternate schedules available at that church and elsewhere in the community. Investigate whether the entire program must occur at one church - alternate locations by year, etc. Check participation requirements; no child can be expected to attend 100% of the sessions.

Many children's programs at churches follow school schedules for vacation times.

Who provides transportation in the order? Does it require Dad to do it all?

In the future, look at long term consequences of an order.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
45 minutes means it's quite possible that both communities are within the same Diocese/whatever governing body the particular Faith falls under. If Mom's the same Faith herself, it might be wise to speak with her spiritual leader about the possibility of coordinating instruction between the two parishes so kiddo can do classes nearer to home. If not, she could still speak with the priest/pastor of the local parish. Many church leaders would prefer to help keep people in the fold to driving them away.

At the end of the day, however, a court is likely to see this as an agreement entered into willingly, and Stepdad's desire for a vacation to be irrelevant. I would also be very cautious on how Stepdad presents himself - you (Mom) don't want it to appear that there is an interest in limiting Dad's time with his son.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
I am in Texas, USA. I am looking for the community's opinion on a custody agreement's wording: how would a court interpret it? My wife and I are trying to decide how strong our case is to renegotiate the agreement that includes my stepson traveling 45 mins each way between households up to three times a week.

The back story: I recently married my wife who has a ten year old son, now my sole stepson. She and the dad landed on a custody agreement a few years ago. The relationship with a dad is not very amicable, it's unlikely we can work this outMy stepson stays with us most of the time and the following is the verbiage for dad's rights to access my stepson:



It's this church clause, #3, that's going to play out to be a big thorn in our side: it turns out this communion / confirmation is a multi-year process. The classes are held for two hours every Sunday for the entire 9-month school year for THREE YEARS straight. So while we would normally have my stepson two weekends a month, now he must go to his dad's on Sundays even on our weekends.

Between the clause about Wednesdays and now Sundays, too, we'll be unable to take him on any vacations! This feels like such a bummer.

So our line of questioning is this:

* given the verbiage, is there any opportunity for us to not have to lose access to my stepson every Sunday morning for the next three years?
* If we want to go on a family trip how can we ensure we're not faced with contempt of court?
* Is there an argument here that this agreement is disruptive to the child?

All in all my wife feels she made a considerable amount of concessions in this agreement including the dad paying two thirds what is standard in our state in addition to all these various times he gets visitation, so our primary goal here is whether it's going to be worth going back to court to renegotiate this agreement.

Thank you for your time.
Mom's concession on the child support is something that can be easily modified. Child support concessions are never considered to be permanent. It also may be possible to modify the religion clause to make it possible for your wife's son to attend either only on dad's time, or to attend part of the time at a different church. As someone else suggested talk to both local spiritual leaders, and the spiritual leader at dad's church.

As far as vacations are concerned, it does not appear that these classes take place over the summer, therefore there will be vacation opportunity during the summer. In addition, it may be possible for mom to get a little bit extra summer time to make up of all of the interrupted weekends during the school year.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
Been pondering this... One thing that I don't understand - did you *just* find out what the communion/confirmation clause entailed? That just makes no sense to me. (not prying, just looking for possible arguments for you, should you choose to take this to court for a modification.)
 

t74

Member
It could be that dad was not previously devout and is using this as a means to create an unanticipated problem.
 

stealth2

Under the Radar Member
It could be that dad was not previously devout and is using this as a means to create an unanticipated problem.
Certainly possible. But including it indicates (to me) that the child had been baptized (indicating at least the possibility of Communion/Confirmation down the road), and that Dad was sufficiently devout when that clause was included. I dunno... I can only speak for myself, but if I were presented with such a clause (well, actually before agreeing to baptism if I were not aware of the "gotchas" involved), I'd be looking closely into what I was actually agreeing to.

Might just be me, but I see stepdad driving this train.
 

t74

Member
Certainly possible. But including it indicates (to me) that the child had been baptized (indicating at least the possibility of Communion/Confirmation down the road), and that Dad was sufficiently devout when that clause was included. I dunno... I can only speak for myself, but if I were presented with such a clause (well, actually before agreeing to baptism if I were not aware of the "gotchas" involved), I'd be looking closely into what I was actually agreeing to.

Might just be me, but I see stepdad driving this train.
I suspect more children are baptized than are confirmed/ celebrate first communion. I am curious what denomination requires a 3 year weekly program.
 

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