It is Friday! TGIF! Right?
For some people the weekend isn’t always great if it is the time when a custody exchange must be done with children. The terms of the exchanges are outlined in your divorce judgment, custody decree or parenting plan and they should be followed but as we know, all to often, they are not followed; people show up late; they don’t show up at all; kids are disappointed; kids dread going; we always fight. There are many issues that may come up with the weekend exchange.
If there are big issues like safety or abandonment of custodial time, you may need to file a motion to modify the custodial orders. You can call my office to discuss. I know what your thinking, more attorney fees. Those attorneys always want more fees. Sometimes it is necessary to hire me or another attorney to modify the orders. However, most orders and decrees have language that states they can be temporarily changed by agreement of the parties, so that you can adjust your life as your lives change. Therefore, if your decree has this clause, you may be able to have a discussion with the other parent and figure out a plan that works better for you. If the trouble is the location of the exchange, then perhaps you can agree to a more desirable location. We have all seen the McDonald’s or Wal-Mart parking lot exchanges. Maybe these don’t work and somewhere else would be better. Perhaps the issue is the custodial times. Maybe you and the other parent can figure out what times work better for ever evolving life schedules. It is very important that communication lines be open to work through these issues so that the tension of the weekend can be removed, for your children’s sake and of course yours. The weekend should be fun!
If your decree allows you to modify your schedule, both parents must agree to it. You should likely write it down and both sign it showing the acknowledgment of doing something different; that way if anyone tries to say you failed to follow the order, you can say it was agreed to by each other for a limited time. The order remains in effect so anyone can void the temporary changes at anytime and the order in the decree will need to be followed. You can bring in your order and we can discuss the issues you may want to change and whether you can change them temporarily by agreement without a motion to modify. You can be held in contempt for not following a court order unless an agreed to modification is otherwise allowed.
If it is a situation where one parent is simply not ever using their custodial times, then you should write these missed visitation times down in a calendar journal. Once, you have several missed visitation times, you may able to modify the decree so that you don’t have to wander every time if the other parent is going to show or not. Please contact me with any questions you may have concerning the weekend exchanges.
My Best Regards,
Kelly Michael Bosserman, ESQ