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HELP! Move to Live Aboard Sparks Custody Battle
I found this forum while searching for anecdotes about kids living on boats to help me make a case for retaining a 50-50 custody arrangement with my son. I realize that this forum is geared more toward cruising but I'm desperate!
Briefly, after 2 years separated/divorced, and having a court-sanctioned custody arrangement that is 50-50, my ex-wife is using my recent move to a live aboard lifestyle as "justification" of nearly eliminating my time with our 13 year old son. The boat is a 34 foot Silverton Convertable (300 sq ft). My son has the forward v-berth to himself. I am in the process of altering the layout of the boat to better suit it for living aboard. I've gutted and completely replaced the head. I am moving the galley to where the dinette was. I've removed the lower pilot station. Between the galley shift and the ex- lower station, there will be considerably more "hanging out" room in the saloon.
I don't take the boat out, it's only a residence. We're tied up at a very nice, small marina in Salem, Mass. with many historical and cultural ammenities readily at hand. The Friendship of Salem, a square-rigged replica of a China trade ship, is docked directly in front of us a couple hundred feet away. I've had to submit a "wintering" plan (I did ten pages!) to demonstrate my ability to keep my son safe and warm. There are somewhere on the order of ten other full-timers at this marina in the winter (half go out to the moorings for summer). I chose a power boat over a sail boat, and this pricey marina over many far more affordable ones to provide my son with the most optimal conditions I could manage within the context of living on a boat. He will go to his regular school. The only difference between this year and last is living on a boat instead of a not-so-fantastic apartment.
Can I please implore this forum to help me with their first-hand experiences? I'd be especially grateful to hear from kids (currently or now grown up) who have experienced this lifestyle and could share some insights. Also, anyone who has experienced life aboard in wintery climes. And if anyone would be willing to share their stories in the form of a "sworn affidavit" please let me know. But I'd be grateful for any postings or useful insights to help me retain the rich relationship I have with my son and to give him the opportunity to try out this unconventional way of life. I should add that my expressed attitude is to give him this opportunity but that I'll always maintain flexibility based on his needs and desires. If he doesn't like it, he doesn't have to continue. So far, he seems to like it well enough, though it is a difficult transition for him. His mom running to court to force him out hasn't helped either.