When you and your spouse divorced, you agreed to some pretty specific terms for custody and visitation with the kids. Unfortunately, your ex-spouse seems to feel pretty comfortable about bending — or outright breaking — the rules whenever he or she feels like it.
While an occasional deviation from the formal agreement can be fine when ex-spouses agree on it, and a genuine mistake or accidental slip-up can be forgiven once in a while, you don’t have to allow your ex-spouse to simply ignore the rules whenever it suits him or her.
What counts as a violation of your custody agreement?
- Keeping the child past the scheduled visitation or time
- Picking the child up from school without notifying you
- Taking the child out of state without notifying you per your agreement
- Failing to meet you at the designated time and place for exchanges
- Continually interrupting your visitation time with phone calls or “just dropping in” at random while you have the child
You can often resolve minor disputes through communication with your ex-spouse. If you don’t think that an in-person conversation will remain civil, try sending a polite, but firm, email explaining that you expect your ex-spouse to follow the terms of your agreement.
If your ex-spouse refuses to comply and you simply can’t seem to get through to him or her, don’t respond by withholding child support or breaking the custody agreement yourself. It’s hard to hold the moral and legal high ground when you aren’t following the rules either. (Remember, if you end up having to take the situation into court, you don’t want to have to explain your own actions to the judge when you’re complaining about your ex’s behavior.)
Instead, talk to an attorney about the problems that you’re having to learn about your options. Our office may be able to help you enforce your existing custody order or even seek a modification if your ex-spouse refuses to negotiate.