Hotel-slash-child-care? Is this a thing?
September 25, 2018 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Is there anything like a hotel with 24hr child care, or child care services that can temporarily accommodate overnight stays? I think I need help sifting through the search results I'm finding relative to some specific details I'll provide below the fold, and perhaps suggestions from parents who have used this sort of service or child care workers who have provided it.

A friend's spouse recently filed for divorce. As I understand it at the initial upcoming court date "temporary orders" will be put in place which will involve setting the initial living arrangements for the couple's children.

They all currently live together in the family home, in a rural state in the U.S. northeast. My friend says their hurriedly-obtained legal counsel indicates that they will very likely be required to move out of the family home and that doing so is advisable anyways. The spouse actually began trying to pressure my friend to move out several months before filing for divorce, but twice so far when my friend found a good alternative living situation - affordable and near to the family home and the childrens' schools - the spouse did something to sabotage those living arrangements.

My friend wants to share custody of the children and minimize disruption to the kids' lives as far as is possible under the circumstances, but at the moment isn't sure where they'll be spending the night after the family home is no longer an option. I unfortunately live an hour in the opposite direction from where my friend works in an environment that would not be especially friendly to small children.

So my friend is juggling work, parenting responsibilities, their own health issues, and legal preparations for the divorce-related court hearings and procedures, while looking at possibly couch surfing for some period of time in the near future. My friend's work situation is demanding and can involve long but irregular hours and a requirement to work on weekends.

My question is: if, say, the court's orders for the childrens' living arrangements has them living with my friend two days per week, in general is there something like a hotel that can manage child care too - where the children can go after school, and where child care will be available if my friend unexpectedly or unavoidably has to go to work? Or perhaps the reverse - an overnight child care facility where my friend can also sleep on those nights? The idea would be to have a single, suitable location not too far from the family home where the children can be when they're with my friend, until my friend can successfully procure a long-term living situation in the same area or settle on something more distant if necessary. (And possibly a job more accommodating of the shift in child care responsibilities.)

I try to search for something like this and I get results that seem to center around child care for families on vacation. But maybe that's the sort of thing that would be appropriate? Or maybe I just need better keywords? Is there any kind of social services organization, or perhaps even part of the family court system, that would provide recommendations in response to a need like this?

Another concern is that although the court's temporary orders are not supposed to set up or constrain the final arrangements that will be put in place after the divorce, in practice that appears to be something which can actually happen. So given that the spouse seems to be trying to actively interfere with my friend's living arrangements, my friend wants to - right out of the gate - be able to provide an alternative to the children spending 100% of the time living with the spouse, even if my friend's living circumstances are unstable on the other days of the week.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are absolutely 24-hour day care providers out there, whether you are able to find one in a rural area is another story. If they do exist in your area, they may be in-home providers who don't do a lot of advertising and rely on word-of-mouth. You might contact 24-hour employers in the area (hospitals, resorts?) to see if there are places where their employees typically find child care.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:13 AM on September 25, 2018

What is in the best interest of the children? Ultimately, that is what the court will base their decisions on (that, and which parent is more stable - financially and emotionally, and shows a willingness to follow court orders).

I do not think hotel/on-call babysitting is really a thing in rural areas and is probably an expensive and not ideal situation. This idea sounds like something that comes from panicked desperation, which is not an ideal place to be parenting. Can you friend take vacation/sick days/leave of absence from work? They are simply being pulled in to many directions at once to be in the headspace or making solid, rational decisions.

This is pretty serious, with long term financial, emotional, and logistical impact on your friend and the children. The best thing you can do right now is assist your friend in getting competent legal advice (the advice to move out is unusual enough for me to raise my eyebrows, and legal advice should never be “hurried”). If you have money, or can get friends and family together to get money, that would probably solve a lot of the problems. Your friend’s employment situation is not condusive to solo stable parenting, so helping them find other work or income opportunities would be helpful. They may be entitled to money/support from the other parent (collecting it may be another story, so don’t depend on it right away). “Ndsting”, where the children remain in the home while the parents rotate out, sounds like it should be a solution, if only temporary.

Your friend also probably needs someone to talk to that has experience in relationship break downs, legal consequences in their jurisdiction, and would be unbiased. Usually this is a professional and is cheaper than a lot of money thrown at a lawyer.
posted by saucysault at 8:20 AM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
saucysault: The spouse filing for divorce appears to have triggered a sequence of deadlines, according to information on the state's legal aid organization web site. By the time my friend was able to get to the court to pick up the initial paperwork, I managed to arrange funding and an initial appointment with a lawyer, who told my friend how to return to the court and obtain an additional document listing a sequence of already-scheduled deadlines and hearing dates. The legal aid organization web site and paperwork from the court said that both parents are required to take a several-hour-long multi-session educational workshop on the impact of divorce on children, which my friend has scheduled and is already attending. Much time has already been taken off of work to track down records, fill out forms, and compose and deliver documents, with immediate negative effects on my friend's income for the corresponding weeks; then further time off in the last week when I had to take them to a half-day course of hospital examinations and treatments. (Good idea RockSteady- I should have inquired about staff child care arrangements while I was there!)

The tempo of deadlines seems crazy fast to me. My friend isn't college-educated, and even with my help simply getting an idea on how to find a lawyer (big thanks to previous AskMes!) and figure out what questions to ask the lawyer has felt incredibly rushed; I can't imagine what this would be like for someone who has to represent themselves and learn about the related law and court procedures and file their own paperwork with the court. It seems particularly unfair that the spouse appears to have been able to select a lawyer and prepare at their leisure, for who knows how many months or longer, before firing a starting gun with the divorce filing, and possibly been able to plan out ahead of time these shenanigans with the living arrangements.

But the lawyer my friend selected (didn't want to meet with any others, despite my offers to pay for the initial interviews, because the the two got along and obtaining legal representation seemed urgent) not only hasn't said anything about changing the dates as far as I know, but has essentially accelerated the schedule by requesting that my friend get together draft versions of the financial documents and other documents well ahead of the deadlines so that they can be reviewed and revised beforehand. Which would seem prudent if the dates are all fixed, but does this situation as described sound correct?

It certainly makes sense that each parent's financial and emotional stability should be taken into account, but in this case the spouse is using their status and leverage to create a great deal of financial and emotional precarity for my friend as part of the whole process.

I did come across and propose the "nesting" arrangement but the spouse evidently is adamantly against anything like that and my friend is not hot on the idea either.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 PM on September 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think your friend is kind of looking through the wrong end of the telescope here and focusing on a small detail when at the initial hearing the judge is going to be looking at the big picture. I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge but I have seen a lot of child custody situations. In my opinion a judge is extremely unlikely to grant overnight parenting time to a parent who does not have a fixed address that is deemed suitable for hosting the the children overnight, even if the parent offer to (if I understand the thinking here correctly) rent a hotel room for the nights they have custody. A judge will also see a job that requires long, irregular hours and required weekend hours to be a major consideration in deciding whether/when to award overnight time for young school-age children. If your friend has fairly predictable days off but just not on weekends (and if your friend is able to work out a more stable living situation) then it may be more appropriate to have parenting time on those days. But working a schedule that is random and unpredictable is going to be another major obstacle.
Another thing to be aware of is that parents often ask for and are granted "right of first refusal" to care for the children in situations where the parent with scheduled parenting time is unable to (whether due to an emergency or a regular scheduling issue--for example, picking up the children from school rather than having them go home to a babysitter or an after school program).
As saucysault says, the judge's job is to look out for the best interests of the children. Your friend needs to consider how it will look to a judge if they propose that the children sit in a hotel room with a babysitter or spend the night an overnight daycare rather than remain in their own home with the other parent--just so that they are not spending 100% of their time in the custody of the primary parent. While I won't say that there's no truth to the concern that temporary orders become permanent ones, the fact is that custody orders get reviewed and updated ALL THE TIME as circumstances change. If your friend's situation is precarious in terms of housing, schedule, and finances, I would humbly and non-lawerishly suggest that, in addition to making sure they jump through all the procedural hoops for the divorce/custody case, they focus on devising a path forward to a living and employment situation that supports their desired role in their children's daily lives.
posted by drlith at 5:50 AM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

does this situation as described sound correct?

It is really jurisdiction-dependent, so no one can answer with the information you have given us. In my jurisdiction, it is normal to ask for deadlines to be extended with just a simple form at the courthouse.

The advice to leave the home is the most worrying, and one you should focus on. If she stays in the home a lot of her problems disappear and custody/access is not as big of an issue.
posted by saucysault at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2018

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