@jani The school keeps records on tardies and unexcused absences. If you end up retaining a lawyer for a modification he/she will automatically grab those records during Discovery. In my state Standard Orders say a parent can designate a person known to the child for pickups/drop offs. A Power of Attorney is not at all required.
Only you and the father have “legal rights” to your child. But that does not mean you can have your mom help you babysit or have a friend pick your child up. While you are parenting you very likely will ask someone over the years to assist you. It is not unreasonable that Dad will do the same. Let Dad parent during his parenting time. To reduce Dad’s rights you’d need to show he is being negligent or he is unfit. That is very difficult to prove. Even felons get time with their kids. Being a parent and what that means legally is the one right most states consistently seem to agree on.
Children reflect the desires of the parent often. Make sure you aren’t projecting your feelings onto your child about the pickups and the stepmom. Judges also pick up on that and they don’t like it. Remember kids don’t like lots of things but as a parent you have to make judgment calls about what works for your life. You don’t always go around submitting to your child’s wishes. You need to let the child’s father parent and do the same. Short of the child being in any physical danger and missing lots of school you won’t get an audience with a court on these grounds.
You need what is referred to as a “Substantial Change in Circumstances” to modify custody orders. I won’t go over all of the possibilities but an example: the other parent chronically causes your child to miss school (unexcused) and their grades have started suffering coupled with 5 years have passed since the Orders were finalized. That MIGHT be enough to start the process. It doesn’t mean you will win. The standard is subjective and not only is every state different but every court is different because ultimately it is up to an individual (the judge) as to whether or not he/she sees your case as impacting what’s in the Best Interest of your child. Additionally, many states require you go to Mediation first before you ever get to let a judge decide. Modification is expensive and it is a huge gamble. A high priced, experienced lawyer can make the difference. Depending on the complexity of the modification you can be out the equivalent of what a car would cost you or more.
I recommend you start documenting now so you have a journal to remember things. Start brushing up on what it means to look like a reasonable parent in your state and start practicing that kind of behavior. Because ultimately you likely will have to go to Mediation that means you will need to negotiate with the other parent. Start doing that now and figure out some give/take. Everyone will be happier and it will be much cheaper in the long run. Jr. should get that money not the lawyers.
And most important - kids want to love both Mom and Dad. It hurts them deeply when they don’t have permission to do this. They pick up on everything. A glare here, a misplaced insult there and your kids know how you feel. Allow him to remember his time with mom as being a special time in his childhood.
Good Luck and Happy Mother’s Day!