27 answers

My Ex Won't Follow the Court Ordered Visitation Schedule

Ok here is my story,
My divorce was final in April of 2008, my ex fought me for custody of our 3 children. I got joint physical care of the children.
He took the children for his visitation every other weekend just as the court order stated. Then it all changed in Jan. of 2009, his lawyer contacted mine and said he was going to stop seeing the children for a while. (We had a very messy divorce, and his mission since we split up has been to make my life miserable and has never cared whether it put the kids in the middle or not. Which is the main reason the judge gave me the physical care. He was also very controlling and still tries to control me now.) So he didn't see them at all for 6 months. Then in June of 2009 he sent me a certified letter telling me the dates for the next 6 months that he was GOING to get HIS children... which was one Sunday a month for 3 hours. (always occurring on his regular scheduled weekend or holiday)
I just went along with this because I didn't want to argue with him anymore, I have moved on. And I thought at least he was making an effort to see them. But then I find out that he is telling his parents, family and anyone else that will listen that I only allow him to see the kids 3 hours a month! His grandma told me this! I am only in contact with her because of the kids, and she pretty much told me I was a horrible person for not letting him see his kids! ( I showed her the letters and set her straight by the way)
We live in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. So now he is picking his Sundays (which he has now upped to 6 hrs a month) on the days that is most inconvenient for me! On purpose!
I'm just very tired of playing these little games with him, and it is hell on my kids! Is there anything I can do about this?
The decree says that he gets the kids every other weekend starting Friday @ 5:30pm till Sunday @6:00pm. and every Tuesday night 5:30-7:30. The letters he sends me aren't from a lawyer or anything, just a piece of paper in his handwriting sent certified mail.
I want him to either take them for his full visitation or not at all, its just too hard on the kids! And me! I plan most things for Sundays cuz that is my day off and I do have 2 other children and I don't think he should be able to just pick and choose his visitation when its convenient for him.
What I want to do is tell him that he can either get them for his scheduled visitation starting Friday at 5:30 or not at all. I will give him one hour and if he is not there to get them, then I will assume he's not coming.
What I want to know is, can I do this?
Sorry if this is so long, just very frustrated!

What can I do next?

More Answers

First off, I am sorry to hear about what a mess its been. I am in the middle of a divorce and mediation right now! As far as him telling you what days and hours he is going to see them- He cannot do that. If it is going against the court order, it is YOUR choice, not his. If he is paying child support- if he isnt seeing the kids the hours set, he will owe you more child support than is set. It is going against the order and you should take him back to court to have it changed if he isnt going to go by it.

4 moms found this helpful

I don't think he can dictate what hours he's seeing the kids. I also suggest you go back to court and ask that the order be changed to his pattern of so many hours once/week. Or is it every other week? He's set a precedent. You choose which day, saying this day is best for the kids. Consult an attorney about this, first.

I would not insist that he take them for the full time because if he's not interested in having them the full time he will not be treating them well. I suggest that forcing him to take them the whole weekend or not at all could back fire to the detriment of the kids. But again talk with an attorney first.

I am wondering what his game plan is. Is he wanting you to go back to court at which time he'll say something like he works weekends and wants to have them during the week or even that you're unco-operative and he wants full custody, or something else? He's already shown that he knows how to make you look like the bad guy. I suggest there is more to what he's doing than to just make it inconvenient for you.

I might start by having a lawyer send him a letter reminding him of the court order and offering him a regular several hour visit to fit the pattern he's established. You state what day you want that to happen on. This will give you and the children continuity and it will establish that you are willing to compromise. It will also put you back in a position of power equal to his.

Trying to force him to take the children doesn't seem like a beneficial plan to me. You want to document that you are flexible and willing to work out a plan convenient for both of you.

4 moms found this helpful

Get to your lawyer and have him make all correspondences with the ex. Do not bad mouth him. Keep all paperwork to show to anyone who really cares, like his family, that this is what he's done, this is what you've done.
Good luck.
I have a good friend, actually my hubby's best friend, who had a very messy divorce. He is in the same boat you are. He lawyered up and it's getting better.

3 moms found this helpful

I don't have a lot of experience in these matters, but I have a question. When court ordered joint custody was set up, was there no explanation of the consequences of breaking the court order? An unexplained 6 month total absence sounds like it should be a violation of something. A court order with no penalty for non compliance sounds a lot like a bull dog with it's teeth all pulled out. I think you'd have a case for taking your documentation (emails, written notes, etc) from your ex to a lawyer and making a case for your obtaining total custody, and your ex can stop by for supervised visits when he cares enough to actually see his kids every once in awhile.

3 moms found this helpful

do you have a friend of the court system in iowa that you contact with regards to the orders. In michigan we do, and so we don't need to get lawyers invovled. we tell them what's happening, and they help us with it. If not, contact a lawyer.

I would say also read what the order says and understand it. I know my husband's order states, that he is to pick up his son at 5pm, and has up to 2 hours to get him. if we were late by more than 2 hours to get his son, the mom can decide we don't get him. it is very important to understand the orders.

If he is trying to take the kids on your weekend, I would say make something for you to do that day with your kids, so you can tell him, and be honest that you have plans already. if the order states that you can chose if he sees the kids if he is late picking them up, then again plan something and take the kids out of the house. I wouldn't tell them that the dad was coming either. But I would definatly speak with a lawyer or someone about this.

3 moms found this helpful

technically you have to follow the court too right? so go by the book. tell him, the papers that i have say you are to have them from the "specified times that the papers said" and say i am a law abiding citizen and i will be following the judges orders. he can never go to the courts and say" she's following your orders to the "T"! they will laugh him right out of that court room!those certified letters mean nothing but that he had something to say and he wanted you to sign for it when you recieved it in the mail. and as markasa said if he has a problem with the schdule he needs to fill out the paperwork that says he needs to modify his visitation times. stop playing with him. sometimes you have to do a little tit-for-tat for some people to get the picture. where does it say in your order that he can change the judges orders whenever he feels like? so all you have to do is take back the control of the situation. good luck.

3 moms found this helpful

exhubbys-blek-went thru the same...let him play his game..keep everything he gives you in writing..then document everything else.yea its hell on you an the kids-but this will save your hiney when he brings you back to court-which he will..can almost gurantee it-or he will call CPS...protect yourself anyway you can-plus always smile when he comes around-an mostly dont discuss it with the kids-which you know he is doing-keep living your life-keep it positive for both you an kids-he will get bored real quick when he cant ruin your day anymore-he will either get back on track or move on an leave you all alone-it takes 2 to fight-pull yourself out of it..good luck...never assume anything...i did that an i got in alot of trouble.

2 moms found this helpful

I have no experience in divorce or dealing with visitation other than what I went through as a kid. I have to admit that as much as my Dad ticked me off, he did pretty well.

I hope that you're documenting when he does visit, the visitations he's skipping, the letters he's sending to you. I'm not sure, but like the other ladies said.. I believe that if he's not there within a certain time frame, you are within your rights to turn him away. I'm not saying to do so every time, but when its really inconvenient maye you should. Of course, check that the option is really there so you're not doing something that violates the agreement. There are likely consequences for him as well. Maybe because of that you can go back to court with the arguement that he isn't following the decree and it is detrimental to your children.

In the end, they do need that relationship with their Dad. If you can try to be accomodating so that they can have that they will ultimately grow up and see that. They will at some point not want to go for visitation anymore and things like that. Ultimately, he will end up with the short end of the stick for playing around with their emotions and time. I know its not much consolation, but its true.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi S.,
I didn't read the other post but your ex is still controlling you. He is not following the court order and since he didn't get his way in court he is trying to get his way now. Take him back to court. Show the judge the letter and tell everything that has taken place. Make sure to track the dates he has visited your children and how long they were with him. You said you just went along with his schedule as to not argue. He was counting on that so don't let him get away with it. If this situation is harming your kids then you need to fix it. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

You've already gotten good advice and I would urge you, as others have done, to ensure that you really understand what your orders say. I have ful everything custody with a non-standard visitation schedule. My orders say something to the effect of "if the parents can't agree on other dates and times, then the visitation shall be every Sunday in the custodial parent's home and supervision".

My ex-husband didn't even bother to show up to court but I was fair to him explained his work situation (and mine) to the judge. I wasn't going to limit his access, but I knew he wouldn't honor the visitations anyway. It wouldn't have been equitable for me to be tied down to certain dates and times never knowing if he would show up. What I thought proved to be true...he's seen her twice this year and I took her to him for those times.

You're right, he shouldn't get to pick and choose. But you have to follow the decree as well. I hope you've kept all these letters and documented all the missed visitation...they'll help when you take him back to court. And you do need to take him back to court.

2 moms found this helpful

Call your lawyer immediately. This is a bigger legal issue than any of us (who aren't bar certified) can answer unfortunately, and you want to make sure that you do whatever you have to do to keep your children happy and healthy.

Good luck - and I'll be thinking good thoughts your way.

2 moms found this helpful

I would continue to take the high road...don't bad mouth him to anyone...let him see them for the 6 hours that he wants to see them...if he were asking to have them MORE hours than the court order, you might have an issue but if he wants to see them LESS hours...that is his loss...and your gain!!! As for him picking a weekend that is inconvenient for you...if it is "his" weekend then it is his right, isn't it? Don't make it a major issue or things will just escalate and he will make your lives even more miserable than he already is.
Does he stay current with his child support? Is he good to the children when he has them with him? I would not push him to take the children for the entire weekend...as Marda says...if he doesn't want them with him then he is not going to be looking for things to do with them...he will be hiring a babysitter or something else...and the children will be better off with you.
Don't make this a battleground...your children will ultimately be the ones to suffer because of it.

2 moms found this helpful

While its probably good that he doesn't take him for the days and times on the court order you can always take him to court for contempt. I went and spoke with a lawyer at the court house in Dec bc my ex refused to bring my son home and he told me that you have to follow the court order to a T. If he even is 5 minutes late you don't have to allow them to go and you don't really have to give a reason. You can just say "no" then if he takes you to court you can at least tell them he wasn't following the court order. I suggest you file to have your court order modified to be decreased to the amount of time he stated in the letter he sent you.

2 moms found this helpful

I'd contact your lawyer and discuss it with him. Your ex MUST follow the court order. That's what it is intended for. Your ex is playing games with you and with the court; and if YOU don't follow the order, YOU too are guilty of the same behavior (I've been there). If your ex has a problem with the current visitation schedule, tell him he needs to contact his attorney and re-modify the schedule through the court. Believe me, if you keep on sending your ex to his attorney to change the order, eventually he will get the message and stop playing these games. Your ex is doing this out of spite. My best advice to you is to stick to the court order--do not stray from it; get your children into counseling, and most of all, document, record, videotape (you get the idea), all of your ex's behavior. Somewhere down the line, you may have to prove to the court of his behavior.

Good luck,

M.

2 moms found this helpful

I have dealt with something similar with my ex. My best advice is to contact your lawyer. If you can't afford a lawyer, call Iowa Legal Aid (1-800-532-1275 Monday-Friday from 9 to 11 am or from 1:30 to 3:30 pm). They have been able to give me advice over the phone about what my rights are and how to proceed on my own when my ex was not following the court order. Documentation is key to getting this situation under control. Save every letter, e-mail, or other contact he has with you. Get a spiral notebook and start writing down dates, times, and what he is doing, including phone contact, with you and the kids. This payed off in a big way for me when I took him back to court!

As others have said, he is trying to control you and trying to set himself above the court order. You need to talk to a lawyer and get this straightened out. It is not good for you or the kids to keep dealing with his bull.

1 mom found this helpful

I have to disagree with the moms who say he is in violation of court order. He can't pick other hours if you don't agree but he is free to not use any or all of his visitation if he so chooses. Not fair to you or the kids but thats the way the court sees it. My youngest just graduated and thank God I no longer have to deal with it! But everything was always if and when it was convenient for him. I just bit my tongue and eventually the kids could see for themselves and chose not to go. Thank God he didn't fight that. Probably would have won.

1 mom found this helpful

Tread lightly -- it's illegal for you to keep them from him...in my opinion it should be illegal for him to do what he's doing to you and his kids!! First I'd send him a certified letter (keepin a copy for you) stating that his visitation is from Fri - Sunday and the time he chose doesn't work. State you're willing to change weekends if needed but a few hours in the middle of a day is not acceptable. Then it's on him to reply via certified mail - if he doesn't he forfeited his visitation for that weekend. Also, since you've got documentation to back you up...see what your divorce papers say about how to resolve conflicts. It probably says you have to go to mediation and the mediator will not see you both if both don't agree to pay their share of the fees..if that won't work you can see about takin him to court for not following the courts orders. You should try to see a lawyer - not sure how you're doing financially but there are programs that can help based on income.
I agree w/the mom who said he's trying to control you -- my ex did the same till I wouldn't allow it anymore. He still tries on occasion (never calling the kids till 2 minutes before bedtime, not including both kids in his wedding - only our daughter, if things are left at his house it's the kids' fault never his, etc) but the kids and I have learned how to deal over the last 9 years and it gets to us less.
Let me know if you need to vent -- there should be a group for mom's divorced from control freaks so we can all help each other deal!! Best of luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

The most I can say is document, document document. I was told to use a calendar & document on that. And the best of luck to you. I went through this and if things aren't documented and sometimes if a child is old enough they should even initial the dates you write things down. Best of luck to you and your children. My prayers are with you.

1 mom found this helpful

I didn't read quite all of your responses, but I agree with "Singlestill". Document everything - dates, times, facts. You want evidence that you did not prevent him from seeing them - keep his letters.

But from my extensive and very expensive experience, courts do not make parents see their children. (My stepson's mother did not see or talk with him for a year (he was 14)). I would not waste my time, money, and emotion on fighting their father to see his children. He obviously doesn't want to. Let it go - but document, document. Lawyers, judges, courts do not and cannot make things the way you want them to be. Also, you don't want your children spending days with a father who doesn't want them to be there. By getting angry, he is winning. Let it go...

Make your childrens' lives the very best you can working with what you have. They will eventually appreciate you for it and know that you did your best (I KNOW this is hard, but don't bad-mouth their father, no matter what).

1 mom found this helpful

Contact your lawyer and tell him about the certified letters and him not seeing them for 6 mo. You are the custodial parent and he IS NOT following the contract so that would put him in breech of contract. Talk to your lawyer about what you can do about him either having to follow the guidelines. You may have to take him back to court for the breech of contract but your lawyer would know best. Good luck girl I feel for ya. I have full custody of me and my exs son and in my divorce contract it says my ex can set up reasonable visitation upon reasonable notice.

1 mom found this helpful

Keep a detailed log of each of his visitations with the letters he wrote. Then let him take the kids on his times as he sees fit but don't let him have them on your days. He is playing a control game with you and you can stop it by not playing along. Don't tell the kids when they will be going with him to keep them from feeling disappointed and make sure his parents and grandparents get plenty of time with them if they like. It always works well if you work with the parents and grandparents because then they know you aren't being the one who keeps the kids away.

1 mom found this helpful

I would send him a copy of the court order papers that states when he sees his kids and tell him this is when he sees them. I would send it to his family as well. Tell him if he chooses not to see his kids during this time then that is his decision not yours. He's trying to control you and this situation. I wouldn't let him. I would ask your attorney to tell his attorney that he's supposed to stick to the court order or he won't see them at all.
Unfortunately, divorce brings out the worse in people and I feel really bad for you and your kids. Do your best not to show how mad you are and stay above it all. But, also don't allow him to control you!

1 mom found this helpful

i would talk to your lawyer, but i'm pretty sure you don't have to let him have the kids for 6 hours like he's trying to do, since the court order says he only gets 3. and from what i've noticed with a friend of mine, unless it's court ordered, you don't have to let him see the kids, and if he doesn't get there in time to pick them up (without telling you he'll be late beforehand), you don't have to let him take them if he doesn't show up. but i'd still talk to your lawyer first and make sure.

1 mom found this helpful

Talk to your lawyer but in the meantime keep doing everything you're required to do. Take the high road.

I would have to think that if he is not taking them for the hours specified in the agreement then any child support agreement you have might need to be updated as well. You are providing extra care and meals during those times that it is supposed to be his responsibility.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that if his visitation schedule was court-ordered, that's the way it should be and he doesn't have a choice. Just my 2 cents.

So I didn't read all of your responses, but I read enough of them. I agree with most people. Document everything. Everytime he says he's gonna be late, cancels, tries to change something different from the court order. I don't really think that you should be allowed to flip your life around because he is decided to be a "convenient" parent. I would probably e-mail him and ask him if he is planning on taking the kids that weekend and when, that way you have in writing that you made an effort before planning your weekend. If he cancels at the last minute, document it. If he returns them then document that. It's not a violation of anything for him if he decides not to follow his custody agreement, but it is a violation for you if you keep the kids from him, which is why it is VERY important to keep everything, document everything, and put as much stuff in writing as possible. Then when you do go back to court, you can show the judge that you are trying to cooperate and he is just being a jerk of a parent.

On a slightly different note, I personally hate when people throw their kids into emotional battles with their exes and believe that they should parent first and ignore however they feel about the other person. It's not their fault that you don't like the person who you chose to have kids with their other parent years before. I praise you for being as patient as you have been cause I would be going insane by this point. Just reading it was making me frustrated!

1, The wilson and wilson for fathers to have their children every other week-end is wrong- there is no such thing as a part time father. fathers are extremly important in child raising. No question about that. How many hours does he get all total? Is it not true that 16 of those hours the children are sleeping? subtract that and how many hours does he get to interact with them? how does one base a relationship on such few hours you no more say hello and then its goodbye. I think you should quit your bitching and complaining and prise god that he wants to see them at all. are you living with some man ? how is your moral character? are you complaining about the child support?

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