Often, couples believe that once their divorce is final, the fighting will be over and it will be peace and harmony from there on. Unfortunately, this is rarely true. Some people hold grudges against their exes, while others may be angry if they feel they got the short end of the divorce deal.
Not showing up for a scheduled visit (or showing up whenever he/she wants) is a way of still controlling the ex. Some people simply believe they are more important than any schedule and what works for them should be fine with everyone else. Of course, this isn’t true, but it may be difficult to convince your ex to follow the plan.
The first thing you should do (even if you believe it won’t help) is to talk to your ex and explain that you and the children plan other activities around the visitation schedule. Let your ex know that when he/she shows up unexpectedly, the children feel as if they need to choose between their parents. When he/she doesn’t show up at all for scheduled visits, it hurts the children’s feelings and they become confused.
Life is chaotic at times and everyone needs to rearrange the schedule at times. It is a good idea to work with your ex when he/she needs to switch days, but don’t feel like you have to do that every week. It soon becomes a habit and your children won’t have any idea when to expect their parent.
If talking to your ex doesn’t help the situation, contact your lawyer for advice. A phone call from your attorney may be enough to straighten out your ex. If this still doesn’t work, you may need to petition the court for help. Your ex will be in contempt of a court order if he/she continues to violate the visitation schedule.
Depending on your area, the court may take immediate action. A deputy could be sent to talk to your ex or to deliver a subpoena to appear in court and explain why the visitation schedule is not being followed. Some people try to trick their exes into missing dates just to try to cause trouble. While you may want to get your ex in trouble, remember that whatever you do, your children will be the ones who get hurt in the bickering. Always keep your children foremost in your mind!
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