Like most details in dealing in a divorce, child visitation, and visitation rights, come with their own pitfalls. Thankfully, many of those are explicitly spelled out, if your state has set Child Parenting Time Guidelines (as my state calls them), or an equivalent thereof. These are set guidelines to give both custodial and non-custodial parents backup and guidance if there are any questions about who gets whom and when, holidays included.
However, as with most other details of day to day life, and dealings with the human race, the guidelines don’t always have solutions for every problem. Nor should they. But, there are times when the human element will come into play, and if humans can do one thing, they can be petty, spiteful, forgetful… you name it.
So, how do you deal with situations like the following?:
Constantly Arriving/Dropping Off Kids Late.
Believe me, this can be a royal pain in the ass. Your ex is constantly late picking them up, or dropping them off. Never mind if you have plans, or what the agreed-upon schedule was to begin with, the beat of your ex’s own drummer is firmly being danced to. Well, of course this is nonsense, and you shouldn’t have to stand for it.
If this is a continuing struggle, at some point, gently remind the other parent that the child visitation schedules were set for a reason, and they are legally binding, pending other agreements. Not only that, it’s just plain rude. If the schedule isn’t working, suggest changes that will work for all sides. It never hurts to be diplomatic.
Cancellations, or Refusal by Other Parent to See Kids.
Sadly, this will happen, and sometimes for very legitimate reasons. Work issues can crop up, illnesses, family emergencies. On the other hand, sometimes the non-custodial parent can just cancel their visitations in a fit of pique (It’s happened to me!) or because of an ongoing argument, or simply because they don’t feel like it.
While your first reaction may be anger at the other parent, try to remember your feelings are the least of the concern here. The children just got told their parent didn’t want to see them, or otherwise couldn’t see them. For reasons that, more than likely, have nothing to do with them.
Be that rock for them. Reassure them that it’s not their fault. Go out of your way to comfort them, whatever it will take. Kids can be stronger than you think, but chances are, they still love their other parent, even if you don’t any longer.
Of course, it’s also still on the other parent to make amends, both to you, but especially the kids. Don’t forget about that, and don’t let your ex forget that either.
Refusal by Custodial Parent to Allow Child Visitation.
This, actually, is pretty clear cut. In most jurisdictions, the custodial parent cannot refuse you visitation rights to the children, barring orders from the court in the matter. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are on support (although, seriously, get on that tout suite), the custodial parent is legally prevented from telling you that you cannot see the kids. If this is happening to you, talk to your attorney. This is a matter for the court to decide (both the refusal itself, and the reasons why), and could lead to contempt charges against the custodial parent. Diplomacy is always best, but sometimes, you just need an attorney.
Constantly Changing the Schedule.
This is another matter that’s more of a pain than anything, but lack of a consistent child visitation schedule can only lead to confusion, both for you, and for the kids.
When in doubt, the guidelines set in the divorce agreement need to be followed, period, as well as the guidelines set by your state or supervising jurisdiction. Holidays especially are points of contention, but that’s why the guidelines were set.
But if one parent or another keeps making changes, or keeps asking to make changes, then perhaps it’s a good idea to actually change the schedule instead. You can either do this unofficially, or make it binding via court order (consider mediation as a less expensive alternative to a court battle), but whatever the means or method, it could help avoid more drama over the issue.
Be Ready To Resolve Conflicts.
As always, if you have any deeper issues or concerns, consult your attorney, or state regulations. It’s never a good idea to use the court to solve your personality conflicts, but if there are actual issues that need to be solved, then get them solved. Preferably in a way the benefits everyone – including the children at the center of it all.
- It’s simple, really. You get the final judgment handed down, and both sides have rights and responsibilities they must abide by in order for your divorce to be fully legal. Sorry, those are the breaks. Unless there was pre-existing criminal activity going into the divorce, or any other mitigating circumstances,…
- Custody and child support can be gigantic brick walls many divorced parents, both custodial and non-custodial, seem to always run up against. Mainly because there are a metric ton of misconceptions about who has what rights, and when, and what it all actually means, here is common sense custody advice…