Going through a divorce when you have kids is especially rough. There are a lot more issues that have to be worked out when you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse share children. Child support is one issue. Another is the parenting time/visitation schedule.
While your parenting time/visitation schedule might not be the best for you, it is crucial to continue to abide by it. After all, it isn’t just a suggestion. A parenting time/visitation schedule is part of a legal contract you enter with your ex and an enforceable court order. If either of you breaks it, there are consequences.
Today we’re going to look at what happens when your ex violates your parenting time/visitation schedule. To begin with, we’ll take a look at why parenting time/visitation schedules are so important and why violations are treated seriously. Then we’ll turn our attention to the ways that a parenting time/visitation schedule can be violated, as well as what steps you should take if your ex breaks your parenting time/visitation schedule.
Why Are Parenting Time/Visitation Schedules Important?
Some people just don’t seem to understand why a parenting time/visitation schedule is so important. It is much easier to see why child support is so important since it takes money to feed and clothe a child. But parenting time/visitation schedules are just as vital as child support is.
You and your ex’s parenting time/visitation schedule was likely created to offer each parent a fair amount of time with the child. Parenting time is essential in the eyes of the court. The courts believe that children benefit when they have a relationship with each parent, so they try to ensure that parenting time/visitation schedules reflect this belief.
But parenting time/visitation schedules can mean a lot to a parent. Taking care of a child is a lot of work, and the parent the child lives with is most likely to have a lot less free time on their hands because of the responsibility. Planning for personal time and experiences typically means scheduling things for when your ex has the child.
If your ex chooses not to show up when it is their time with the child, then plans will need to be adjusted. This isn’t fair to do to the other parent. It also isn’t fair to the children, as children in these situations often feel that they are to blame or that they are unwanted.
How Can a Parenting Time/Visitation Schedule Be Violated?
There are many ways that a parenting time/visitation schedule can be violated. Many people think that a violation of a parenting time/visitation schedule means one parent keeps the child longer than they are supposed to. This can be a violation of a parenting time/visitation schedule, but it is far from the only way to violate the schedule.
Another way to violate a parenting time/visitation schedule is to not pick up the child. When it is your ex’s time with the child, they are supposed to be there for it. However, it could also be a violation of the parenting time/ visitation schedule to insist on picking up or dropping off the child at a different location or time than what had been previously arranged.
Attempts to change a parenting time/visitation schedule may also be a violation of a parenting time/visitation schedule. A parenting time/visitation schedule can only legally be changed by seeking the authorization of the court.
Visiting or attempting to visit with the child outside of the parenting time/visitation could be considered a violation. However, this doesn’t mean that your ex and child might not end up in the same place at the same time. For example, your child might be out with a friend at the mall and run into your ex. This isn’t necessarily a violation of the schedule, though it could be if it were planned.
What Steps Should I Take if My Ex is Violating Our Parenting Time/Visitation Schedule?
If your ex is violating your parenting time/visitation schedule, then there are a number of steps that you can and should take to deal with it.
The first step is to document any violations. Note each and every violation and any reasons you were given for the violation, and be sure to note the dates. This lets you create a record of the violations, which can help you to show the seriousness of the matter.
An attorney can help you to notify your ex that they are in violation and warn them that you plan to take legal action if they don’t straighten out their behavior. This is often enough to scare somebody into following the schedule, though that isn’t always the case.
A call to the police can be used to make a report, which serves as further documentation of the issue and your attempts to deal with it.
A motion can be filed to have the current custody order enforced. You could ask the court to hold your ex in contempt at this point because they have chosen to willfully disobey the order. Being held in contempt could result in time behind bars and large fines.
The parenting time/visitation schedule could be modified, though this doesn’t guarantee that the new schedule will be followed any more than the current one.
Can an Attorney Help?
If you are fighting with an ex to get them to stop violating your parenting time/visitation schedule, then an attorney may be able to help. They’ll be able to offer assistance, from sending a letter to your ex to warn them about potential legal action to battling it out in court if that proves necessary.
If you have a custody agreement and a parenting time/visitation schedule already in writing, then you are in the right by following the schedule. It may require you to take extra steps to get your ex to comply, but they’ll find that life is much harder when they don’t.