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Matrimonial Attorney Elayne Kesselman, Esq. on Methods for Altering Visitation
Current Time: Fri Mar 14 08:27:29 EST 1997

MsgId: jcafe(1)
Date: Thu Mar 13 21:49:01 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Welcome one and all to the Thursday night chat with matrimonial attorney Elayne Kesselman. Ms. Kesselman, who practices in New York, will discuss strategies for prevailing in your divorce case from 10-11 PM ET. The floor is also open to questions from the audience.
MsgId: jcafe(4)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:13:08 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.204.58

Hi, Elayne Kesselman here. Please ask any questions you may wish.
MsgId: jcafe(5)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:22:14 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

how difficult is it to have an original divorce document ammended ?
MsgId: jcafe(6)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:22:43 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.204.58

Hi Sharon
MsgId: jcafe(7)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:23:22 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

specifically, visitation
MsgId: jcafe(8)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:23:27 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.204.58

It depends upon whether both parties agree to the ammendment. Is that your situation?
MsgId: jcafe(9)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:23:46 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

hi
MsgId: jcafe(10)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:24:54 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Hi Sharon, Welcome.
MsgId: jcafe(11)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:24:55 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

yes, that is my situation.
MsgId: jcafe(12)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:26:05 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

excuse me, my ex husband isn't aware that I'm considering these changes. I'm sure he would disapprove
MsgId: jcafe(13)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:27:14 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Sharon, Ms. Kesselman is formulating her answer. Meanwhile, anyone else with a question may submit now.
MsgId: jcafe(14)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:27:44 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Once you and your ex-husband have an agreement on the change, it should be fairly easy for an attorney to have the change incorporated into the original document. However, the length of time it may take to reach an agreement depends on your ex-husband's reaction to whatever change you want. If he doesn't agree to it, it can take a long time, and you may even have to go to court.
MsgId: jcafe(15)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:28:43 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Sharon, What's the change you're considering?
MsgId: jcafe(16)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:30:05 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

he will fight me on the change i'm considering. In this situation, a judge will ultimately rule ? What happened to "legal custody?"
MsgId: jcafe(17)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:30:46 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Elayne, meanwhile, do you have an example of this situation from your own practice?
MsgId: jcafe(18)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:31:44 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

his wife, the childrens step-mother, is indeed, the wicked-stepmother. she mistreats my children verbally. I would like to restrict visitation to his parents home, or some other neutral place.
MsgId: jcafe(19)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:33:26 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Your situation sounds difficult. You may need to consult an attorney, or, if at all possible, speak with your ex-husband directly...
MsgId: jcafe(20)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:34:59 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

to find out whether he's willing to make any changes. If your children are old enough--for example, teenagers--it might be helpful if they would speak to their father directly.
MsgId: jcafe(21)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:35:20 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

thank you for your input.
MsgId: jcafe(22)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:36:32 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

my children are 8 and 12, they don't have a voice in their fathers opinion. I've tried talking to him about her behavior, even written her a letter directly......
MsgId: jcafe(23)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:37:02 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

You should keep a record of dates of the children's complaints to build up your case.
MsgId: jcafe(24)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:37:23 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

which was responded to with the same anger and defense that is shown to my children.
MsgId: jcafe(25)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:38:07 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

If possible, contact the grandparents to see if they would be willing to see the children at their home. But it does sound like you're going to need an attorney to handle the situation.
MsgId: jcafe(26)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:38:57 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

thank you, i'll do that. I would rather not have the children know of this battle. They wouldn't be asked to speak if this had to go to court, would they ?
MsgId: jcafe(27)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:39:21 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Sharon, my lay opinion is that you need a lawyer to help you out.
MsgId: jcafe(28)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:40:29 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Depending on where you live, the children might be able to be represented by their own attorney who would speak for them, but there is a possibility that a judge would want to hear from them directly. Most judges are very sensitive to the needs of the children when they do speak to them.
MsgId: jcafe(29)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:42:26 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

this is so difficult. i'd rather chew nails than go thru all of this
MsgId: jcafe(30)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:43:11 EST 1997
From: sharon
At: 166.82.185.12

thank you for your advice, goodnight
MsgId: jcafe(31)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:44:07 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Good night, Sharon --remember, another way to handle this, of course, is through the counseling route. Good luck!!
MsgId: jcafe(32)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:45:03 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Elayne, in general, how can we handle conflicts in visitation?
MsgId: jcafe(33)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:46:35 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

A lot depends on the ages of the children. Older children--teenagers--often will simply refuse to visit the non-custodial parent, and the custodial parent is sometimes blamed for that. If at all possible, it's helpful for the children to have their own attorney, whether appointed by the court or, if the custodial parent can afford it, paid for by the custodial parent...
MsgId: jcafe(34)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:47:59 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

If at all possible, the children should be encouraged to let the non-custodial parent know what activites they would enjoy doing while visiting, so that visitation becomes more a part of their regular routine, rather than a chore...
MsgId: jcafe(35)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:49:25 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

In the case of younger children, it's helpful for the custodial parent to give the non-custodial parent as much advance notice as possible of activities the children have while they're visiting the non-custodial parent, so that the children and the non-custodial parent can plan to attend those activities...
MsgId: jcafe(36)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:50:27 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

for example, if the child has been invited to a birthday party during part of a visitation day, the child would probably enjoy visitation more if the non-custodial parent brings the child to the party, even though it would otherwise interfere with their time together...
MsgId: jcafe(37)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:51:28 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

However, in the case of the children's adament refusal to go with their non-custodial parent, it may be necessary to secure professional psychological help...
MsgId: jcafe(38)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:53:40 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Elayne, please address, for those who don't understand, why parents with legal custody cannot unilaterally modify visitation?
MsgId: jcafe(39)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:55:00 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Even though a parent has custody of the children, that does not mean that he or she can simply change the visitation schedule. If a judge originally established the schedule, then a change might have to be made by a judge, if the parties can't agree to it. If the parties themselves originally made up the schedule, they would still have to mutually agree to a change, even though only one party has custody...
MsgId: jcafe(40)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:56:07 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

In general, when it comes to visitation, judges are very careful to protect the non-custodial parent's right to see the children. Therefore, these changes are not easy to make unless there is agreement.
MsgId: jcafe(41)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:56:40 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Elayne, What about when children are clearly being mistreated or even abused by the non-custodial parent (not a step-parent).

What level of evidence will be needed to get a change of visitation, then?
MsgId: jcafe(42)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:57:40 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

In the case of abusive conduct, the custodial parent should run--not walk--to court to try to get a change in the schedule, and it may be necessary for the children to, at some point, testify.
MsgId: jcafe(43)
Date: Thu Mar 13 22:59:09 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Elayne, here's one last question: What recourse does the non-custodial parent have if he or she believes the custodial parent is trying to keep the children from them?
MsgId: jcafe(44)
Date: Thu Mar 13 23:00:33 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Unfortunately, that situation often can only be resolved in court. Sometimes, if the problem becomes extreme, a judge may even consider changing custody of the children. In some cases, a stern warning to the custodial parent, if in fact the custodial parent is interfering with the visitation, is sufficient to help the situation...
MsgId: jcafe(45)
Date: Thu Mar 13 23:01:33 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

The non-custodial parent should keep a record of the dates and times the children were either late for visitation or failed to come, and what reason was given for their failure to come so that he or she has documentation, if the issue ends up in court.
MsgId: jcafe(46)
Date: Thu Mar 13 23:01:44 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Thank you, Elayne Kesselman, very informative. Our Thursday Night chat is now about to close down, but be there next week, same time same place.
MsgId: jcafe(47)
Date: Thu Mar 13 23:02:13 EST 1997
From: Divorce_Central_Moderator
At: 168.100.204.58

Thank you, Elayne Kesselman, very informative. Our Thursday Night chat is now about to close down, but be there next week, same time same place.
MsgId: jcafe(48)
Date: Thu Mar 13 23:02:25 EST 1997
From: Elayne_Kesselman
At: 168.100.205.178

Goodbye, thank you for having me.