Question #58: My fiancé and I have been together now for 3 years. He filed for divorce 5 years ago and even after 2 lawyers he has not been able to get anywhere in the case. His wife just refuses to settle, and keeps adding more and more claims for money, and still refuses to allow him visitation of their now 7-year-old daughter – unless it is by “her terms”. She also has been constantly delaying conferences and production of receipts, etc. for the last 18 months. Finally last month the judge ordered that they had to come up with a settlement by the next conference (in 2 weeks), or it would go to trial in June. After all these years, we know that she will not agree to settle and so it will end up at trial in June. My question is two-fold. At the end of the trial, will the divorce be final (as we would like to get married asap)? And secondly, what is the chance that my fiance will have to bring a separate case to get proper visitation with his daughter, since the ex won’t agree to anything, and the judge does not seem to want to even address the issue? Last year, after months of trying, the judge finally granted him one weekend every 6 weeks, 3 hours on Friday, 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday – no overnights, no taking taking her away from the city her mother lives in, and no visiting with anyone else. The poor girl has not seen her grandparents since she was a newborn, as the ex won’t allow it. There has been NO reason for any restrictions, except that the ex is controlling and wants to make all the rules. I have 3 children, and my fiance is a wonderful father, and poses no risk to his daughter – I can’t understand why a judge would not grant him fair visitation, yet so far he has not. As it is, just to spend these weekends with his daughter he has to travel from Missouri to Minnesota, as they have both moved since the divorce was filed back 5 years ago.

1. At the end of the divorce proceedings, there should be an Judgment of Divorce which will finalize the divorce; but such order, at least in NY, will come only after all of the financial issues have been decided as well as child custody, support, and a detailed visitation schedule have been resolved .
2. You did not state what State the divorce is taking place in, but in NY as in most states in the US, the judges are very concerned about allowing the non custodial parent the right to see the children on a continuous, regular basis, with liberal visitation rights. It seems very unusual that the judge is limiting the father’s access to the children and restricting the grandparents right to see the child. There seems to be more to the story.
3. He should have addressed this travel issue as soon as it happened and not waited 5 years.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq/Divorce Solutions