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When the other parent oversteps parenting plan boundaries

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2022 | Family Law

A surprising thing happened on the eve of the upcoming holiday. Although your former spouse was supposed to return your children to your home as part of the agreed-upon parenting plan, he had declined. He tells you that the kids will spend the holiday with him.

Of course, this news angers you. Even if you believe the legal agreement clearly states that your children get to spend this holiday with you, it may not be the most sensible decision to fight with the other parent. You do not want to escalate the situation, thus sparing your children from further pain. You reluctantly let the kids stay with him.

Minimize the trauma for children

Although you feel you have every right to contact authorities over such a breach, doing so may not be the best approach. Police involvement may further traumatize your children.

But as long as you know that the children are not in danger, it is our position that it is OK to let them stay with the other parent. You understand that minimizing conflict is essential for a child’s well-being and are taking steps to best care for your children in the midst of a difficult situation.

You are no push-over; follow up with an attorney

However, you must quickly and firmly address this matter. For example, simple communication outside of the court may be all that is necessary to avoid additional confrontation.

Your former spouse must understand that further breaches will not be tolerated. As a result, you must set firm limits – actions that make it clear that you are not a pushover and that you anticipate maintaining your parental rights as the two of you had agreed upon. If the parenting plan was clear, then make up parenting time needs to be immediately calendared.

Further action, though, is necessary on your part. After allowing your children to go with their other parent, contact your attorney to assemble a petition for extra time with your child in the future or at least begin that conversation. Such an action reinforces the parenting agreement and that you view this as a serious matter.

Sticking with the parenting plan

You do not want such occurrences to become consistent with your former spouse. And you want to make sure to have a plan in place that may prevent such situations – whether intentional or not – from happening again. You want to stick to the parenting plan as closely as possible, including during the holidays. We also suggest that you coordinate details of exchanges ahead of time to prevent these sorts of things from happening in the first place. Please remember to keep the needs and impact on your children first, and you will be doing the right thing.