What do you do when your ex isn’t following the court-ordered custody schedule for your children?
This is the sort of post-divorce event that nearly every parent dreads. Yet, most parents fail to have a response plan in mind if it does happen. Don’t make that mistake. The faster you react to an issue with your visitation, the more clearly you’ll convey the boundaries of your post-divorce existence with your ex.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Contact your ex regarding the issue
Do this in writing, so that you have a record of your statements and your ex-spouse’s response. Be specific about the ways in which your ex is interfering with your visitation.
Direct interference involves things like refusing to turn the kids over for your weekend or arbitrarily canceling a planned visit at the last minute. However, don’t overlook indirect violations. Those include things like intercepting your phone calls or refusing to give you information about a child’s school activities. It’s important that you document exactly what the issues are in your letter in case you end up back in court.
2. Propose a resolution to the problem
You want to offer a solution to the issues whenever possible. Not only does that give your ex a reasonable way to respond, it also could show the court that you are more than willing to be flexible. A refusal to negotiate on your ex’s part will also play very badly in court if it gets that far.
For example, if your ex insists that the planned visit just had to be canceled, propose an alternative visit to make up for the one that was missed or “make-up” visitation time. If your ex says your phone calls are just coming “at a bad time,” suggest setting up a specific time every night to call — and let your ex choose the time.
3. Take the issue back to court
If your ex refuses to negotiate or rapidly falls back on the same excuses, your best bet is to take the issue back to court. Judges expect custody orders to be followed and can issue fines or even alter existing custody agreements when they aren’t.
If you do find yourself heading back to court over a custody issue, you want to make certain that you go in armed with the proof that you did everything possible to avoid the situation.