What Can I Do If There Are Problems With Parenting Time?

February 4, 2013  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

When a court sets a parenting time schedule the order represents a set of mandatory instructions regarding parental access to the child. That doesn’t mean the situation will be perfect. Problems with parenting time are common, though not all of them will be cause for any changes to the visitation schedule. Some problems may simply need to be dealt with, no matter how unfair it may seem.

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Problems often include the following scenarios:
Game playing. The spouse makes parenting time difficult or unpleasant. The spouse may be late for drop-offs and pick-ups, may fail to pack necessary items or may fail to return packed items.
Inappropriate behavior. Sometimes the difficulty is the other parent’s behavior during the parenting time. The child may be interacting with questionable people or exposed to questionable things.
Failure to give access. Some parents downright defy the court’s parenting time order. Sometimes they’ll start “switching up weekends” or playing other games with the schedule until the other parent’s time has been reduced.
Failing to exercise rights. Sometimes the problem is getting the spouse to actually exercise parental rights. Some spouses simply aren’t interested, and fought for parenting time primarily to reduce their child support. This can be frustrating for the other parent and traumatic for the child.
If the child’s best interests are being threatened some of these issues may be enough to convince the court to modify parenting time orders, depending upon the scope and severity of the issues. The court has a variety of remedies at its disposal to make sure the child is getting what he or she needs.
If you believe that there is a problem make sure that you document everything. Include dates, times, and descriptions of events in a carefully maintained incident log. Share this with a divorce lawyer. Note any witnesses to the behavior as well.
Be aware that things which bother you about the other parent’s behavior will not necessarily represent a problem in the eyes of the court. Your ex’s decision to let your children stay up later than you’d like or to eat certain foods you don’t serve at your house, for example, does not necessarily mean that they should lose access to their child. You might not like the ex’s new girlfriend or boyfriend much, but that doesn’t mean that a judge is going to agree that it’s enough to reduce or deny parenting time.
An attorney can help you decide whether or not you have a solid case for questioning the current arrangement. At Barna, Guzy and Steffen, LTD., we have more than 80 years of combined family law experience. If you have parenting time issues, consider contacting us for a consultation today.