October 2007 - Pulling the Plug
Part of your responsibility as the custodial parent is to encourage and assist
with visitation. Kids need two parents in their lives, and it takes two parents
to make visitation plans work. However, there are some non-custodial parents
who either skip visitation or think it should revolve around their lives. Dealing
with these situations can be challenging
If the other parent does not come for visitation on any regular basis, you may
be at a loss as to what to do. Should have your child ready and waiting only
to be disappointed time after time? Should you give up on visitation completely?
Will you get in trouble if you no longer make your child available? If you’re
in a situation where your child is regularly being disappointed by a no-show
parent, it is in the best interest of your child if you stop getting ready for
visitation at the scheduled times. The excitement and letdown can truly be too
much for any child.
If you reach this point, let the other parent know that you’re no longer
going to be ready and waiting. If he or she wants to exercise visitation, you
have to be given notice at least a day or several hours in advance. This puts
you back in control of your child’s life. Should your ex make a fuss and
insist on taking you back to court, simply present a calendar showing all the
visitation times that were missed and explain your current approach. Most courts
will find it reasonable.
The Hit or Miss Parent
Some non-custodial parents regularly exercise their visitation, but fail to
adhere to the schedule. This may result in the parent regularly being late or
frequently rescheduling. It’s good to be flexible about visitation –
but only to a point. You and your child should not be held hostage by the visitation
plan and the other parent’s disregard for it. If you are in a situation
where the other parent is regularly late or is regularly rescheduling, it’s
time for some changes. Meet with the other parent and make it clear that you
are no longer going to be so flexible. Make it clear that you have a set visitation
schedule and that you both must honor it. Tell the other parent that you are
going to allow a 15 minute leeway on pick up times. If he or she is not there
within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, the visitation is forfeited. No makeups,
This is a precarious position to take. On the one hand, you want to encourage
visitation and make sure your child has time to spend with the other parent.
On the other hand, you cannot allow your child to become a pawn in your ex’s
games with your, or collateral damage in your ex’s unstructured lifestyle.
Should your ex take you back to court, again, simply present the court with
a record of how late the other parent has been on a regular basis and explain
the current policy.
Getting Tough Works
If you make a stand and set clear rules for the other parent to follow, and
you stand by them to the letter, you will make it very clear that you mean business.
In most cases, the other parent will fall into line. Setting limits will help
you and your child cope better with the situation and take the guesswork out