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Question
Posted by: Yello | 2012/05/21

Visitation with my son limited by difficult ex

My divorce agreement says that I have one day a week with my son and every alternative weekend. When we divorced my ex husband stayed in the same neighborhood as I did. Then he moved 80km away, and twice again since all far from me. As I work long hours it is now no longer possible to see my son during the week, as the road to Pretoria is just so busy that I would just arrive and have to leave again. We also had a long standing agreement (not in the divorce decree) that he would bring my son to to, and I would take him back. That has now also changed and I must do a 130km round trip twice on a weekend. I wish I had forseen these things when making up the agreement as he has all the power and uses my son to hurt me and make it as difficult as he can for me to see him. I went to see a lawyer for 10 minutes and he charged me R969 and told me there is nothing to be done that wont cost thousands. My son cant even choose to come and live with me till he is 18 and he wants to. I was bullied and threatened into giving my ex custody and I wish every day I had taken him on, I do however have two other children that I also had to take into account. Just wanted to vent and hear if anyone else had any solutions.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

If he is actually i breach of the divorce agreement, its time to re-negotiate this, and you could presmably also return to court for an amendment, to take the changed circumstances into account. The Maintenance Court may be able to help, with little or no extra expenditure on your side. If he is not paying maintenance, maybe he should be, and the court could decide on this as well as possibly revising the original decision, even including custody arrangements. My understanding is that Maintenance Court and Family Court hearings and decisions could allow you to represent yourself or allow the staff of that court to represent you, and, much more importantly, to represent the child and express his wishes. The child's choices should ALWAYS be respected and not ignored, as this agreement seems to do. Your Ex's wishes should never be the only element taken seriously

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Our users say:
Posted by: Liza | 2012/05/21

Firstly - most lawyers give a FREE first consultation. If they don''t, it usually means they''re overpriced and will charge you far more than most. As for his opinion that it would cost thousands - that was just his way of trying to fleece you for every cent he can. This is the kind of lawyer you want to avoid at all costs!

You can go to the family court and speak to someone about your situation. They can then tell you what steps you need to take to fix the situation. If you do need a lawyer, most university legal departments have a legal clinic where they can provide assistance that won''t cost an arm and a leg. They have different criteria to check whether you qualify according to your income, so make sure you don''t just give up because one university says you don''t qualify. I remember with one case I went to the University of Pretoria and was told that I didn''t qualify, while I did qualify for assistance at the UNISA law clinic.

The court will take a childs'' preference into consideration when deciding the legal case. The older the child, the more weight their preference will carry. By age 16, the child''s preference will carry more weight than the preferences of his father - unless the father can prove that the mother is unfit (which is so difficult nowadays as to be almost impossible). Any revisions to the custody agreement would include the responsibility of the father to either deliver your son for visitations or to fetch him from his visits - so that you only have to do one trip. It should also include the stipulation that if he moves again, that he''s either not allowed to move further away, or that if he does move further away it''s his responsibility to drop your son off AND fetch him from visitations.

Good Luck
Liza

Reply to Liza
Posted by: Maria | 2012/05/21

It''s not true that your son can''t choose until he''s 18. Talk to the office of the Family Advocate, and post on the Divorce support forum as well.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/05/21

If he is actually i breach of the divorce agreement, its time to re-negotiate this, and you could presmably also return to court for an amendment, to take the changed circumstances into account. The Maintenance Court may be able to help, with little or no extra expenditure on your side. If he is not paying maintenance, maybe he should be, and the court could decide on this as well as possibly revising the original decision, even including custody arrangements. My understanding is that Maintenance Court and Family Court hearings and decisions could allow you to represent yourself or allow the staff of that court to represent you, and, much more importantly, to represent the child and express his wishes. The child's choices should ALWAYS be respected and not ignored, as this agreement seems to do. Your Ex's wishes should never be the only element taken seriously

Reply to cybershrink

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