Whether you just got served with divorce paperwork or the courts have already finalized the dissolution of your marriage, sharing custody with your ex can be difficult. Especially if your former spouse has a grudge and wants to use the children as a weapon against you, maintaining your parental rights may be a constant struggle.
Your ex might cancel parenting time with little notice, possibly allowing you to waste time and gas money driving to their home first. They might intentionally schedule appointments during what should be your parenting time or come up with excuses, like that the children are too sick to see you.
When your ex doesn’t abide by the temporary or final custody order during or after a divorce, their goal may be to alienate you from the children. You can square things away, but you will need to be able to show a pattern of disruptive behavior to the courts.
Keep a written record of all denied parenting time
The first thing you need to do is to start recording the specifics of each incident as it occurs. Details such as the date, time, communication method and excuse given for canceling your parenting time are important to keep straight from event to event. What you may remember now will blur over time. Concise and detailed written records are critical for showing a pattern of denied visitation or custody.
Attempt calm communication in written form with your ex
Remember that everything you say in an email or a text message can wind up used as evidence in future court hearings. It is in your best interest to stay calm and rational while communicating with your ex. Don’t be angry or accusatory. Simply point out the facts.
Asking when you can reschedule your missed parenting time is usually a good opening line. If they refuse to reschedule, you can use screenshots of those communications to help validate your claims that the issue isn’t temporary problems with your kids but your ex hoping to deny you access to them.
You can ask for the courts to change custody to reflect your ex’s behavior
If your divorce is still underway, you can submit repeated denials of parenting time as evidence that your ex is not prioritizing the best interests of the children right now. If the courts have already finalized your divorce, you can use repeated denials and non-compliance with the court order as grounds for a modification request.
At a modification hearing, the courts will look at changes to your family circumstances, such as your ex’s refusal to comply with the shared custody order and then decide how to change custody to better reflect your family circumstances.