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Visitation and Sports During School-Age Years

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Buds Gurl

Member
I live in Orange County, California about 25 miles from my ex in Los Angeles County. We have joint legal custody, she has primary physical custody. For 3 years my son has consistently stayed with me one overnight every other week, and every other Wednesday to Monday morning. He has just turned 5 and started Kindergarten. Without discussing it with me she placed him in a school outside of her district which is an additional 20 minutes of drive time for me. In spite of this I believe that maintaining consistency in my son's schedule and being involved in his education experience is worth the extra driving. On top of this she has now joined him into a soccer league in the same city with many practices and games occurring during my parenting time. She believes that maintaining the current schedule is somehow disruptive to his education and is now threatening to go to court to have my legal custody stripped and visitation decreased. I have insisted on taking him to school and picking him up during my regularly scheduled times, and have refused to take him to soccer during my custodial time as I had asked her find a league in a convenient location which she refused. She claims that her attorney has assured her that it is an open and shut case, that no judge would want to see a child travel the distance while in school and that no judge would allow visitation with a father to take priority over participation in organized sports. She is from a wealthy family and I have no way to afford an attorney, she's even stated in a text message to me that she has a lot more "f--k you" (her words) money than I do. I don't see why it upsets her that I am willing and able to stay just as involved now that our son is in school and honestly don't see how she can have the right to arrange any extracurricular activities with him during my parenting time, but I must admit going to court unrepresented against her and her money does cause me to worry. Any thoughts, advice, experience welcomed, thank you.
 


PayrollHRGuy

Senior Member
First, don't take legal advice from your ex or her lawyer.

Start finding a way to come up with some money for a lawyer. Sounds like you are going to need it.

I think she is F.O.S. on the judge putting soccer practice over time with dad.
 

Buds Gurl

Member
Not taking legal advice from my angry ex, or her supposed attorney. What she actually said is that her atty told her that the judge may order me to either transport to & from sports or forfeit my time to allow his participation. I have no resources to pay for an attorney so will have no choice but to represent myself, just looking for advice, etc in the event she makes good on her threats.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Not taking legal advice from my angry ex, or her supposed attorney. What she actually said is that her atty told her that the judge may order me to either transport to & from sports or forfeit my time to allow his participation. I have no resources to pay for an attorney so will have no choice but to represent myself, just looking for advice, etc in the event she makes good on her threats.
There are situations where a judge may indeed order such a thing as being in the best interest of the child.

However, from what you have described, I doubt yours is such a case. The child is five (5). I realize that every parent believes that their child is gifted, but at 5 they don't need an "elite" program/travelling team. Do some research and find an alternative. My kid liked Soccer Squirts at that age, which was much more developmentally appropriate.

When this does become an issue is when the kid shows exceptional talent in a particular area, and in such a case a judge may deem it to be in the best interest of the child to be allowed to pursue their development of such a talent. One of my relatives was able to get the judge to order, as part of their parenting plan, that Dad be required to take his child to practices and competitions on his time - but the Dad had largely ignored the child for some years (unlike you) and the child ranked highly in the sport on the state level when the request for that change in the order was granted.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Was the school that mom placed the child in a private school? Otherwise I am unsure how she pulled off putting the child in a school district that neither of you resided in.

However, I will tell you, that living 25 miles apart, particularly in CA, is not really in the best interest of a school aged child. That is a lot of travel time, back and forth, for a school aged child. Any chance that you could move closer to mom? If you were in the same school district as mom and mom was forced by the judge to enroll the child in that same district, it would be a win win for the child.
 

Buds Gurl

Member
No, it is not a private school. She was able to do it because her name is on the condo that her mother and grandmother live in. There is no way that I can move closer to mom. My wife has two children who are in school where we live and also has custody/visitation to consider with their father who lives close by. I do my best not to rock the boat which is why I did not make it an issue when she did it in the first place. I figured I'm being a good father by wanting to maintain the same level of involvement with my son. She did not give any indication that she was going to make it an issue until literally the day before school started.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
No, it is not a private school. She was able to do it because her name is on the condo that her mother and grandmother live in. There is no way that I can move closer to mom. My wife has two children who are in school where we live and also has custody/visitation to consider with their father who lives close by. I do my best not to rock the boat which is why I did not make it an issue when she did it in the first place. I figured I'm being a good father by wanting to maintain the same level of involvement with my son. She did not give any indication that she was going to make it an issue until literally the day before school started.
Do get a consult with a local attorney. If you are getting the child back and forth to school on her time then she has no basis to try to change your parenting time. However, the soccer stuff is a bit of a wild card, depending on the judge that you get.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
No, it is not a private school. She was able to do it because her name is on the condo that her mother and grandmother live in. There is no way that I can move closer to mom. My wife has two children who are in school where we live and also has custody/visitation to consider with their father who lives close by. I do my best not to rock the boat which is why I did not make it an issue when she did it in the first place. I figured I'm being a good father by wanting to maintain the same level of involvement with my son. She did not give any indication that she was going to make it an issue until literally the day before school started.
But she doesn't actually live there, nor does your son; they are not residents within the district boundaries of the school she has him attending.

I would question whether the school district really allows this.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
But she doesn't actually live there, nor does your son; they are not residents within the district boundaries of the school she has him attending.

I would question whether the school district really allows this.
Actually, it would be nearly impossible for the school district to deny registration if the mother is an owner of the property. The school district would have to prove themselves that the mother and child didn't live there.
 

Buds Gurl

Member
Good point, though I have no doubt that the grandmother would lie and state that they do live there and I'm sure that she receives mail at that address since her older daughter lives there, has been raised by the grandmother from very early on. I suspect that's why she chose that school & feel there's a good chance that my son will begin to spend much more time with his grandmother than with his mother. The only proof I have is the fact that her home in the neighboring city is where I have brought him to her for over 3 years, and it is the address used on court docs in the past. But like I said, I didn't want to rock the boat and decided to suck it up for my son's sake. Unless a judge would possibly consider him going to school in my area I'd rather not disrupt him any more than she's already trying to do.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Actually, it would be nearly impossible for the school district to deny registration if the mother is an owner of the property. The school district would have to prove themselves that the mother and child didn't live there.
And as usual, LdiJ, you are going with your gut, not the law.

While Mom might use her documents showing ownership as the basis of registering, the fact is, she and the child do not live at the residence she is using for the purpose of school registration. According to California Law, the parent/guardian has to be a current resident of the public school district, where current resident is as defined in CA Gov Code 244 and CA Ed Code 48200 and 48204.

Even a temporary relocation outside of district boundaries subjects you to disenrollment.

I've noticed the Palo Alto District School District even has a "Suspected Residency Violation Form" at https://www.pausd.org/registration/residency-important-information (Just an example within OP's state.)

So no, according to CA law, Mom is committing School Enrollment Fraud; the boy is enrolled in the wrong school, and can be, upon a district investigation revealing this, disenrolled. I do not know if there are any greater consequences in CA than this (fines?), but I suspect it depends on the school district.

I will note, the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal highlights what wealthy Southern Californians would do to help their children get an "educational advantage". Were it perfectly legal to enroll your child solely based on where you happened to own property, not where people actually reside, there would be a cottage industry of people jointly investing in properties for the purpose of school registration.
 

Buds Gurl

Member
Just for reference, school for a 5 year old is not compulsory in California.
Yes, I know this and personally feel that my son was too immature to begin Kindergarten but his mom insisted (he literally only turned 5 five days after school started). The school where my stepchildren attend has a great Pre-K program that I wanted to get him into last year to help him be better prepared but his mom adamantly refused. I can't do anything with my son unless I seek a court order yet she makes decisions left and right. I will just keep to our schedule, continue to transport to & from school on my regular days and I will not be taking him to soccer in his grandmother's town. If she decides to make good on her threats to take me to court, then I will hope and pray that the judge and/or mediator sees what she's trying to do and puts her in her place. Btw, she has never taken me to court, rather I had to take her to court initially cause she refused to allow me visitation with my son to punish me for leaving her, then had to take her to court again last time she tried to take it upon herself to modify our agreements. I thought she learned her lesson but I guess not.
 

Buds Gurl

Member
For the record, I appreciate all of you for taking the time to respond to my thread. and for all of the information that's been given. Please keep it coming if anyone has anything to add!
 

t74

Member
Be sure to attend school conferences. Ask for your own if you do not feel that the two of you can be cordial to each other if you meet jointly with the teachers.

How did your child do on kindergarten readiness testing? Express your concerns about development with the school counselor and/or his pediatrician.

Fortunately in many districts, children must repeat kindergarten if they are unprepared for the first grade. I hope this is the case in his district.
 
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