Did We Handle This Doctor Visit Right or Wrong with Ex Wife?

Updated on December 16, 2010
C.Z. asks from Los Angeles, CA
21 answers

My husband and his ex wife have 50/50 custody with MW ( dad) and T Th ( mom) and every other weekend. My stepdaughter recently broke her arm while in the care of her mom and mom's boyfriend. Mom scheduled every doctor appointment on Wednesdays for her. The problem is that she has a twin ( the girls are 6 years old and in 1st grade), so whenever she took one girl to the doctor on Wednesday, she would have the other daughter miss school to go with them to the doctor appointment and miss school even though she was not ill or in need of an orthopedist like her sister. My husband was upset because Wednesdays are his custody days but her "drop off at school days". He is a teacher and values education and felt that the appointments should 1. Not be made by her on his days and 2. The one twin who was not ill should have been dropped off at school. Also, since these absences were on his custody days it appeared as if he was the parent not getting them to school. Recently he had enough of this baloney and took the day off work on Wednesday, letting her know he would take the girls to the doctor and school if necessary. Mom made a big fuss in front of the girls on the phone, but did permit him to pick the girls up from her residence. He informed her that there were to be no more doctor appointments scheduled on his days without his express consent. I went with him at his request as a witness and because she is notoroious for making things up. The worst part was when we arrived at the doctor office to remove the cast, she showed up and tried to tell the doctor office that we could not be there! There was an awful scene at the doctor office in front of the girls but it was only mom who made the scene. I stayed a far away as I could from her and dad maintained his composure, she is the one who lost control. But still the girls were very very upset. My one stepdaughter told me she felt like throwing up and asked me why her mom was acting like that. In retropsect, I wondered if he should have just let her take them, or did he do the right thing by taking a stand? To me, the girls should come first, I do not think the way it was handled was best for the girls. Any input on this? Thank you. Ps- Dad wanted to take sister 1 to school first but did not have time to get sister2 to the doctor at that point.

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So What Happened?

Not sure how to comment on individual answers so to comment in regard to making appointmens on "his" days, please re-read the text. He was upset because the appointments were made far in advance on his custodial days. These are days he is entittled to legal custody of the girls. His main concern was that his other daughter was not being taken to school on those days. He felt that she should 1. Take the one daughter to school, even though they are twins they have different classrooms and different teachers. 2. She had enough time to schedule these appointments on her custody days so as not to interfere with time that he is legally responsible for. As a mom of a 17 year old son myself I agree that moms should always have a right to be with their sick child. My son's stepmom and I get along great, I make it a point to be kind and civil to her. She spends 50% of her time with him, I would rather him see two women who get along than two women who act like fighting children. My husband and his ex have joint physical and legal custody so there is no primary caregiver, the girls are in our home exaclty the same amount of time they are in their moms home. To address the comments regardind dad getting sister2 to school: mom refused to let him take his daughter to school on Wednsdays. He only found out that this was going on when a teacher addressed their excessive absences during a teacher conference he went to alone, the bio mom did not make it to the conference. As a teacher and father he was concerned that sister2 was missing days when here sister had appointments mom could have and should have scheduled either on her custody days or after school. He would have been more than happy to get either girl to school even though there is a 30 mile drive to do so. All he would have needed was a heads up and some communication from mom. The custody time per the court order begins at 8am which is after school starts but not after school. Thank you for your input!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Seems to me that this really didn't affect him at all--except for knowing that one daughter was missing school, which, when he tried to juggle it himself--failed as well--as he couldn't get the "well" twin to school either. (Not saying that it was right or wrong but you DO have to take appointments that are available and when you need to make, say, 6 standing weekly appointments, maybe the time slots allowed are NOT all convenient times. ?
If Wed. is "his" day, but mom drops them off at school, then "his" Wed is really after school and evening/night, yes? So how did that affect "his" day in the first place?
And also, I've just gotta say...I don't think any parent or child can agree to be healthy on "someone's" day and isn't the health of the child what's important?
If she needed help getting the "well" one to school on time, why didn't you go do it?

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answers from Los Angeles on

Dear C.,
I realize you have sufficient responses, however, have all the adults in this situation considered what's best for the twins? Studies show children of divorce do better spending one week at mom's the next at dad's and so on. Going back and forth is troublesome and unstable for children.
Good luck,

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answers from Salt Lake City on

here is a question, if the other sister going to school was such a huge concern why didnt your husband just pick up the sister take her to school and let the mom handle the doctors appt so both kids were taken care of. Really you cant keep doing this tug of war. This was handled incorrectly on both sides. I understand that there is probably a huge back story that we are not getting but I can tell you that "taking a stand" is not what was done here. "making a scene" that is what was done here the little girl was upset from the moment you pulled into her house and the ending of the scene just added to it. My parents were divorced when I was 6 months old I lived with mom/stepmom dad/stepdad conflict my whole life. here is my advice STOP IT, GROW UP, stop worrying so much about what the mother does as what all of you are doing to the kids. Or soon enough they wont want any of you around

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answers from Jacksonville on

Is it at all possible to amend the court agreement so that the girls aren't going back and forth every day? Say MT drop off at school W, pick up from school W, Th, drop off at school F, then rotate weekends? Or even better, establish one residence! I feel for these little ones, they must be so stressed out with all the shuffling around, this house, that house, how's mom/dad/stepmom gonna act/react. It does sound like you have their best interest at heart and that you are a loving parent. I just think with so much interaction between the three of you, there is bound to be conflict. It would benefit everyone to establish a schedule with less back and forth and more stability.

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answers from Los Angeles on

From the way it sounds, your husband did the right thing. It was his day to have them, not her's. She sounds like a crazy lady for going in there and throwing a fit like that. Good for your husband for wanting to be there for the girls!

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answers from Austin on

Wow, what a mess. .I agree only the child that needed to see the doctor should have missed school. ALso if the mom was the one making the appt and taking the child and it was easiest on Wed.. I guess she had the right to do that..

But, I also think if she was mature, she would have tried to first work it out with the childs father and see what could have been worked out between the 2 of them..

I am a child of divorce.. a horrible terrible divorce and there was no way they could ever have had a civil conversation with each other.. They now regret it, but at that time.. this is exactly the type of lack of communication that would occur. It still makes me queasy thinking about it..

I suggest if possible that your husband and his ex, go to some type of mediator and try to figure out a way they can communicate without all of the drama.. They both need to realize it is not about them, it is about the girls. I know you think that your husband has nothing to do with this behavior, but it is the past baggage that still contributes to this.. The ex sounds like a drama queen which does not help..

Please try to understand that I understand where you are coming from.. My step mom always tried to help, but in reality, she also caused stress, because she did not fully understand what had happened in the past with our family, she was only seeing and hearing part of it..

We love our stepmom, but she was in a difficult situation.. I suggest you support your husband, but to stay clear of getting in the middle of the exes.. It will help the girls to feel you are more of a neutral party instead of on "their Dad's side"..

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answers from Orlando on

Honestly I don't see the problem with her scheduling Dr appts on "his" day.... ??? I do agree that the other daugther should have still went to school. But what is the big deal about her having a Dr's appt on your husbands custody day?? If she wasn't allowing the girls to go over Wed after school then I can see the problem. But I really don't get it. If he wanted to take the girl to the Dr then so be it, but I can tell you as a Mother I would have shown up. I would have actually been honest with my ex and said I am going too. Let my ex show up with his new wife to take my daughter to the DR and tell me I can't go. That's not gonna happen.

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answers from Anchorage on

I think he handled it fine. It is the mom who was out of line.

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answers from Washington DC on

The not sick twin should've been taken to school. Although mom probably scheduled the appt. so that it was easier to take the girls to the appt. first. that's just wrong. I always try to schedule appts, and certainly these could have been, in the afternoon or Saturdays so that my son doesn't miss school. Our school requires a note from a dr. that says 'yes you had an appt. this morning'. The not sick twin might end up having attendance issues for missing school when she wasn't sick/have an appt.

Mom was out of line at the dr. office.


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answers from San Francisco on

it's possible she didn't have much choice in the scheduling, I've had doctors who split time between different offices and were only in my local office on certain days.

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answers from San Diego on

So let me get this straight: Wednesdays are her day to drop the kids at school, but instead of going straight to school she takes the kids to the doctors? I don't see the big deal as his "day" doesn't really start until after school, correct??
And Dad made a huge deal about sister 2 not making it to school and then he failed to get her to school as well?!?!
Wow, I feel bad for these girls. Being shuffled from house to house everyday is hard enough without all the other hoopla. I agree with whomever said, that Dad could have picked up sister2 and taken her to school while mom took sister1 to the doctors. There is no stand to take. Time to start working together, instead of fighting about EVERYTHING!

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answers from Boise on

If she made the appointment for Wednesday, it should have been his responsibility to take the girl to the doctor (and sister should not have missed). If she was the one wanting to be in charge of the doc visits, she should have made them on her day.

I don't think it was wrong for him to step in if something he didn't agree with was going on, and unfortunately, I don't think that you could have done anything differently to change her reaction. I think the only thing you could have done differently is to walk the girls away from the argument or ask the nurse if they could go wait in a room while their mom was freaking out.

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answers from Seattle on

I think you guys did all the right things and I think that the Mom is very wrong.

You guys are absolutely justified by telling mom to not schedule appointments on your time, without checking with you guys first.

~The big fit in the Dr. office was not cool but it wasn't your guys' fault, I would try to let it go and move on.

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answers from Modesto on

I believe your thought process on the situation is correct but unfortunately you need to let hubby handle the ex on his own.

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answers from Chicago on

I have been divorced since my son was 4. He is now 11 and I am remarried to a wonderful man who is a very involved stepfather. My ex is also remarried and although over the years we have all had our disagreements we have NEVER, any of us, let it escalate like that or acted out in front of our son. Your husband's ex was completely out of line in that respect.

I also agree with your husband that there is NO reason for the sister to be take out of school too, unless they are twins joined at the hip! That makes no sense to me. Since it is supposed to be your husband's day for the girls,it sounds like possibly the ex did it on purpose, just to throw a wrench into the system.

Now- if there was no absolute reason the appointment had to be on a Wednesday (that was the only day her doc was available or something) then changing the appointments to a different day should be no big deal- particularly if your husband is offering to take his daughter to them if needed.

On the other hand- if your husband's ex-wife was expected to be the one taking the girl to the doctor, you can't complain about when she makes the appointment, IMO.

In our family, whoever makes the appointment (and it is always me, because my ex generally won't be bothered) makes it for when it is convenient to their work schedule, etc.

If your husband did not want the appointments to be made on 'his' visitation day, he should have brought that up immediately with his ex, OR offered to take the afternoon off work and take his daughter himself. Always remembering that the key, most important thing is that the little girl gets to the doctor when for the treatments she needs.

I am not saying that the ex was not purposefully trying to be difficult- it sounds like she was. But- your husband has to be proactive too- if he didn't like the appointment situation, he has to offer to take care of it himself, and not just complain about it and wait until it is a done deal.

I'm not trying to be mean- but I have been caught too many times, when my ex just took no interest in something or didn't get it done on time and I was the one scrambling to get the camp physical or whatever scheduled and then he didn't like what day was the last appointment left, etc. It is a pain- but working EVERYTHING out in advance is key to doing this kind of thing successfully IME.

If it is a big enough deal to complain about, it is a big enough deal to DO something proactive to take care of it and avoid complications!

I think you should suggest meeting with a mediator and your husband and the ex. You can describe the scene at the office to the mediator (they have seen and heard everything under the sun, so don't feel embarrassed or weird about this) and talk about your sd's reaction- poor little girl to be caught in that situation!

Having an uninvolved 3rd party may help your husband's ex see the error of her ways- or at least realize that her behavior made HER look very bad. (Be forewarned that my ex is always extremely well-behaved at the mediator's- totally reasonable and responsible sounding, etc. But mediatos almost never fall for this, lol)

If you go to a judge for any kind of changes to the parenting agreement, the first thing you are likely to get asked is if you have sought mediation on the issue, so you may as well be the ones to suggest it now, which makes you look good and again, will reflect very badly on the ex if she refuses. My ex and I always pay half each when we do a mediation- its cheaper than an attorney at any rate.

At the very least, the mediator will help you to draw up a set of 'rules' both sides agree to use when similar situations come up in the future. I know this sounds childish and even ridiculous when you are talking about grown adults- but I can't tell you how many times having the mediator's 'rules' has kept things from escalating for us. The mediator will also write it up as a legal addendum to your parenting agreement that can be filed with the court- so if your husband's ex ignores it in the future, he has some actual legal backup on his side.

Good luck- these things are always sticky and his ex does sound like a pill- I can't believe she acted that way in front of her own poor kids! But remember- just blaming her for being mean or a ***ch is not going to get anything done- you and your husband MUST be proactive about things, or it won't help.

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answers from Dover on

Maybe the appointments were on Wednesdays because that is the day that doctor is available (I once had a specialist who had several offices, to be seen at the preferred closest location I could only go on Tuesdays and he was always booked solid). Maybe she did it because it worked for her schedule better (I guess we don't know for sure). I personally think that if it was scheduled on Wednesday morning (when she is supposed to drop off but your hubby's custody day, she should have asked if dad wanted to take her or meet them there and yes the other twin should have been taken to school by one of them.

I would suggest that the absences at the school get documented as mom's doing and request that twin #2 doesn't have them held against her since her absences really wouldn't be excused since she did not have an appointment.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

i'm in the exact same siti on both sides (the mom and the step mom) i WILL NOT allow my daughter's step mom in a dr room while a check up is being done-er or regular visit, nor take her to a dr's appointment...the dr can witness for the parties if necessary or take a recorder device and put it in his pocket (no one can argue a recording), the same I WILL NOT company my husband in the dr's room with his children WITH OR WITHOUT mom there and i will not take them to a dr's appointment. i don't see why scheduling a dr's appointment on dad's days would be an issue, yes the twin should've been in school however, maybe if she schedules it FOR dad, then why dont he call the dr directly and say this is not a good time for me and reschedule....broken arm...yeah would be hard to do since is really a cant wait priority, but in a case like that, call the dr, cancel the appt if not on good time for him, and call mom and say, you need to reschedule..

or maybe the person scheduling needs to make sure it's a good time for THEM.

who has primary custody?? THAT person should be the one to take the kiddos to appts...my ex has RARLY but that's because he always wants to take my kiddo to a dr HE goes to and not one that already knows her and that i know he wants to allow his wife in place of both of us.........WRONG!

and honestly, mom has every right and dr's HAVE to comply, if mom don't want step mom there, SHE'S NOT GOING IN they cannot deny it to the other parent but they do not have to allow step parent in if it's going to cause an issue and no i would not allow my ex's wife in the room with me and my daughter, and she can be escorted out by the police if that's what it takes to tell her to back off

no offense to you....but maybe things like that, your husband would be better off keeping a journal.....if you being around where not necessary causes conflicts with mom and dad, right or wrong mom WILL blame it on you to the girls and that will cause conflict between you and the girls, daddy and the girls, and eventually you and dh

i've found it best to act only as friend and if a SERIOUS like er medical issue arrises go in, see the child, and stay for a moment and wait in the waiting room..like less than a min, when dr came out on my circumstance...i was out the door, my dh can fill me in on what's going on later

in response to your update on 5050 visitation, there is still normally a primary caregiver (check the decree-min is worded, non custodial (ex) and primary custodial-me) my ex and i are granted 5050 but i'm still primary guardian, she goes to the school in my district and i have primary say on what she does

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answers from Houston on

The mother is way out of line. Sounds like she is just having fun with a power struggle and using the girls as her pawns.

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answers from Los Angeles on

First I hope you are keeping a "journal" of sorts with exact quotes "Mom" says and exact quotes the kids say. Next, what does your custody agreement say??? IF the agreement is vague it needs to be clarified. Keep a copy of the agreement on your person at all times and if mom acts outside of the agreement it can be used in court against her or she can be arrested. IT IS A LEGAL BINDING DOCUMENT. Good luck.

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answers from Phoenix on

If he has custody papers saying he gets the girls on wednesdays and if the mom is keeping them home, for whatever reason, he can call the cops, show them the paper, and she will be required to turn them over to the father. this is extreme but in divorces, as long as the custody papers with visitation are specific, then legally it's very easy to make her follow them. good luck!

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Sounds like she is out of line. Even if it was her custody day, she shouldn't keep him from being there!
Good for you for staying back as much as possible. You were the calm for the girls, which it sounds like they needed (since one confided with you!)

But he may need to contact his lawyer and talk about reworking custody arrangements if something like this keeps happening

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