Going through a child custody case, either as a standalone case or as part of a divorce, is difficult. It is even more difficult if you are a firefighter. The stress from working as a firefighter tends to follow you home. It can be a challenge to shake off that stress and not have it negatively impact your relationships with family members. When you are fighting the elements as part of your occupation it is not easy to take that home with you. What it means for your relationship is usually not good when it comes to being able to raise children effectively with your spouse or partner.
One of the most profound challenges that you likely face as a firefighter is the hours that are required of you. Working 24, 48, or even 72-hour shifts asks a lot of you physically and mentally. Having to climb in and out of buildings, withstand the physical impact of fires and clean your vehicle, equipment and the firehouse are difficult tasks for even the fittest person to accomplish. On top of that, you have the emotional component of the job to consider. It takes a lot out of you to be constantly vigilant in helping others and doing whatever it takes to save lives. It is only natural to feel a “let down” when you are at home. Unfortunately, if you feel like taking a break at home that can come at the expense of your marriage and your family life.
What most nonprimary parents expect in a divorce or child custody circumstance is to have time with their children every other weekend. This is known as a standard possession order and is the typical way that possession is divided up for parents in divorce and child custody cases across the state of Texas. However, it is very unlikely that every other weekend type of visitation split would work for your family. The truth is that you are not in as much control of your schedule as many parents are and when you are in control of it that still requires you to work on the weekends. For that reason, you should not expect a one size fits all custody arrangement to work well for you and your family. By necessity, you will have to become more flexible and creative with how you divide up time with your Co-parent.
However, this is far from an impossibility. Do you have what it takes 2 create a custody arrangement that works well for everyone involved? It will probably take some more effort and work for you to accomplish but that does not mean that it is not doable. What you need to plan on is coming up with an arrangement that can take into account the needs of your family both now and in the future. This will be a challenge but is possible with some concerted effort. This is where having an experienced family law attorney can help you. Family law attorneys have been there and done that to a great extent. While you may be searching for answers to these problems an experienced family law attorney well I’ve seen what you have gone through previously and can assist you with sorting out the circumstances in your life and helping you to arrive at solutions that are practical for all parties involved.
The trouble is that you cannot simply come up with your plan and force it upon your Co-parent. Rather, he or she will have to agree to the plan at least in general and then the two of you can hammer out the details in settlement negotiation. The alternative to this would be going to court and having a family court judge make determinations on these important issues for your family. Although family court judges do their best to base their orders on the circumstances of your family nobody knows the needs of your children better than you and your Co-parent. This is true even if the two of you are not necessarily seeing eye to eye on many subjects. For that reason, the more advice and perspective that you can get from an experienced attorney the better off you and your children will be.
A basic goal of many possession schedules that are Received as a result of a child custody or divorce case is to give both parents an equal amount of time with the children outside of the school year. What this amounts to is for parents to split holidays as equally as possible and even give the nonprimary parent additional time during the summer months. But this can amount to is that you as a nonprimary parent can typically be given at least one month of continuous possession during the summertime.
However, it is unlikely that you as a firefighter will have the opportunity to have custody for an extended period during the summertime given your commitment to work. It may be possible for you to schedule your time away from work during the summer so you can have some degree of extended time with your children. However, a month or six weeks of continuous visitation with your children probably isn’t realistic. However, you can work on coming up with flexible goals for your family that take into account the need to have time committed to work in time committed to your family.
What are some options for you to undertake when it comes to a child custody schedule for your child?
as we have already been discussing in today’s blog post creativity and flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to coming up with a possession schedule for you and your children. However, you need to be mindful of the reality that you want flexibility but also an order that allows you to hold your Co-parent responsible if he or she were to break the terms of the agreement. Recall that if you have hey court order that cannot be enforced that the order is not worth the paper that it is printed on. Therefore, you want to be able to balance having an order that allows you to spend time with your children and be flexible with your work but also provides you with Peace of Mind if your Co-parent violates the order in some way.
For example, a schedule that cycles through every three weeks rather than every week or every two weeks may make more sense for you and your family. In this type of arrangement, you would have an entire weekend with your children on 1/3 of weekends during the school year. Additionally, you would have half of the weekend either the other third or 2/3 of the period this would depend upon how generous your Co-parent is and whether or not the other parent has work responsibilities that would create problems with dividing weekends up in this fashion. As you can tell, it takes some creativity and flexibility on both your and your Co parent’s part to make this arrangement work.
If you are working on a 24 on and 48 hours type shift for your fire station you may be able to get a day that adjoins your half weekend. For example, this would be the weekends that you return to work on a Saturday you could then get possession of your children beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday when you go back to work. Other times, if you were to return to work on a Tuesday, you could then get possession of your children on Sunday through Tuesday. This type of schedule would allow you to have a school day that adjoins your weekend but on a school day in which you do not work period basically, we are trying to minimize the disruption to your child schedule and maximize the amount of time that you have with your children.
the bottom line is that for any parent like yours whose work schedule operates on a three-week cycle, you need to be able to coordinate visitation and possession to that same three-week schedule. Otherwise, you are running into a situation where your child has to be shuffled back and forth between parents frequently and neither of you can exercise as much meaningful time with your child as you otherwise might be able to. This schedule is tricky to maneuver compared to what most people have in a child custody case. Organization and creativity are of the utmost importance.
From my experience, it would be nearly impossible to be able to negotiate this type of arrangement and have it work for your family without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Having the assistance of an attorney to guide you and help you make decisions about ways to structure custody that is advantageous for you both now and in the future is incredibly important. Do not underestimate the degree to which your family circumstances can change with time. Your lawyer can help you see into the future to an extent and help you to craft custody arrangements that work well for you and your children but are also fair to your Co-parent.
What happens if you have children that are under three years of age?
Being able to coordinate a schedule for yourself as a firefighter and for your children if they are under the age of three is an additional challenge that you may be facing. Having multiple young children, a career as a firefighter, and stresses in your family life and marriage can be intimidating for even the most resolute and brave individual. However, even your bravery and tenacity cannot compensate for all of the challenges associated with a child custody case. On top of your responsibilities with work and home life, you will now be adding a family case to the mix. This degree of difficulty is high even for the most diligent of men and women.
Think about a situation where you are a firefighter who has a shift where you are 24 hours on and 48 hours off. From the time that you and your spouse separated from one another, you were attempting to create a possession schedule that allowed both of you to see your children and for you to be able to get fill your obligations as a firefighter. What you settled on was three days of possession with you and four days of possession with your spouse each week. From there you would rotate where the following week you would have four days in your spouse would have three days. The key point to all of this was having to rotate along the lines of your schedule so that every week your spouse would have the children while you were working. This was the best that the two of you could come up with given your limited experience in family law cases and any problems that you might have with working through the issues in a family law case.
All of this is made somewhat easier given that the two of you are probably living close to one another. When you have small children at home it may not always work out where you can live wherever you want relative to your child. To make pick up, and drop off and arrangements with daycare easier you probably needed to live close to your Co-parent and spouse. This makes the logistics of divided possession time easier for you and your young child. The question would be whether or not you wish to remain living so close to your child and their mother. After all: what if you were transferred to a station across town or left the fire service and started working as a full-time EMT? Would you be able to maintain these work hours and possession schedules?
Doing this right now is difficult enough given that there are probably some compromises that you’re children will need to make to have this type of possession schedule work. For example, your children may have to wake up early in the morning to be dropped off on odd days that you have work. For instance, if you begin work on a Wednesday morning then the children may have to be woken up early and dropped off at your Co-parents home. For young children waking up early and traveling like this may not be as big of a deal. However, As your child gets older he or she may be less willing to follow this schedule and you may begin to see issues develop where he or she is unable to follow the schedule as much or as regularly based on their own extracurricular and other activities.
In addition to issues related to moving away from one another, you may also have concerns about what happens when you meet a person that you want to begin a relationship with. It is unavoidable for there to be some logistical issues when you’re dealing with someone like yourself who has an atypical work schedule. The reality is that there is no perfect setup for you and your family and compromise will have to be the name of the game. No matter what you create in your child custody orders there will be periods where you need to Adjust your thinking and do what is best for your children.
This entire discussion begins and ends with being able to communicate with your Co-parent. Without a doubt, all of the moving pieces in your life can be made easier to handle when you have a Co-parent that you can trust is on the same page as you and willing to work with you to ensure that each of you has an opportunity spend time with your children and worked together to solve problems that come up along the way. It is difficult to anticipate what will happen in the future but even in those situations where not every circumstance is predictable, you can still work through the issues that come up on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.
It may be worth speaking to your Co-parent early in your child custody case to find out How your Co-parent prefers to be communicated with over time. What did that is done by email, phone, or even in-person conversations all you want to do is make sure that you both are on the same page when it comes to how to best communicate with one another.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as what your family circumstances may look like after the filing of a divorce or child custody case.