Depending on your custody arrangement, summer can be a time for your children to spend more time with each of their parents. It can be difficult to juggle vacation plans and visitation for two different households; occasional confusion may arise and compromise is necessary. But when your ex is consistently failing to follow through or seems to be intentionally sabotaging your summer plans, you need to take action, for your sake and your children’s.
Keep records of all communication
Keep all interaction with your ex civil. This is very important, not only because it may bring about the desired results, but because if you need to file a motion, the court’s judgment will be influenced by which is the more reasonable, mature parent. You want to be that parent.
If possible, do all communication about summer arrangements with a paper trail. Use email or a parenting portal that is admissible in court and tracks when parents receive messages, so your ex cannot argue that he or she never received your message.
Track all phone conversations, record if possible (and let your ex know you’re recording), and keep a detailed log.
Try to keep your communications positive. When you feel you cannot respond respectfully or calmly, wait until you’ve calmed down and consult with your custody attorney about the best way to respond. When necessary, let your attorney handle negative communications, which he or she can do dispassionately.
Remind your ex of the terms of divorce and custody agreements
In writing, remind your ex of the divorce agreement and/or custody agreement. If the agreements are clearly being violated, you have good standing to demand they be followed, and you are not required to give in to what your ex wants.
Create clear boundaries
If your ex isn’t breaking any agreements but is just being unreasonable – repeatedly making changes at the last minute, calling at odd hours, or blaming you for plans falling through – keep documentation, but also protect yourself and your children. Create clear boundaries – in writing – for when you will accept calls and/or how much notice you need for schedule changes.
These are reasonable requests. If your ex will not follow them, hold firm. Do not answer the phone or read emails outside the time stated, and do not accept last minute changes. Obviously, if your ex was supposed to pick your children up from summer camp and suddenly can’t, you must do so, but do not set yourself up for another sabotage. If he or she will not abide by these simple guidelines, it may be time to file a complaint with the court.
Avoid future summer conflicts
If you have kept a clear record of ex-spouse sabotage or lack of cooperation in co-parenting responsibilities, petition the court for changes in the custody agreement that will prevent another summer of frustration. Consider requesting that you both attend co-parenting counseling. You do not want a battle over your children for the next however-many summers. It’s not good for you or your children.
Contact us here at Ulmer Attorneys at Law, experts in Pennsylvania divorce and custody law and mediation, to find out how we can help you.