My ex husband lives in tx and my child and I live in Arkansas. It's like a 10 hour drive. My son is 3 and his father has been in and out of his life since he was 5 months old. He hasn't had contact with him in 7 months. My son is supposed to stay a month in the summer with his father and I don't think he'll be able to handle it.
"Step up order" is not a term I've heard regarding visitation. However, filing a a modification of the visitation order due to a material change in circumstances sounds like what you are asking about. If you were divorced in Arkansas, the court that granted your divorce retains jurisdiction no matter where your ex goes. If you were divorced in TX, you will hve to go back to that court. If you were divorced in a third state, then you will either have to file in that state or (assuming you have live in Arkansas with the child for at least six months) ask that court to transfer the case to Arkansas as the child's home state. Really though, if you can afford it at all, this should probably be done by a laywer.
My guess is the term "Step Up" order refers to some sort of reconciliation counseling before you move to full visitation. Clearly, if you have a very you child who has had no real contact with his father it would be a good idea to limit the contact until they have developed some sort of relationship. It is a two way street and requires the father to accept the situation concerning what is best for his son. Having said that, you have a court order and you have to obey it unless it is altered. You should hire a lawyer to bring the matter before the court, if the father will not agree to a more limited approach, and then present you position with the judge.
The action has to be filed in the court where the original custody/visitation order was entered so that is where you need to go for your attorney.
It appears that you may be asking about graduated visitation -- meaning that your ex will have shorter periods of visitation at first, with the visitation periods increasing as the child becomes more familiar with his father.
Since you said that your ex is supposed to have your son for a month in the summer, it would seem that there is already a visitation order in place. That means that in order to modify the visitation you will need to show that there has been a material change of circumstances since the last visitation order. You didn't indicate how long ago the visitation order was entered, so we can't say whether the lack of contact in the last 7 months is a change of circumstances or not.
Has your ex exercised visitation since the last order? If so, how well did your son handle being with his father? You may want to try talking with your ex to see if he would agree to try out graduated visitation. If not, you'll need to review the visitation order and the details of your case with an attorney to decide what your best option would be if you want to modify the visitation.
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