If the court has ordered that you and your child’s other parent must co-parent according to a schedule, navigating that schedule can be tricky–even when everyone “plays by the rules.” However, As experienced Tampa, FL family lawyers – including those who work at The McKinney Law Group – can confirm, not all co-parents follow their parenting agreements to the letter. In fact, violations of these orders are frustratingly common.
If you’re struggling with a co-parent who refuses to honor certain terms of your parenting agreement (or visitation schedule, depending upon how you refer to the court’s orders), know that a lawyer can help you to clarify and enforce your rights.
The first step your divorce lawyer is going to suggest is to try communicating with your ex. While it may feel that communication is impossible with an adversarial ex, it rarely hurts to try. Make sure you remain calm when you talk to them and use logic when explaining the court-mandated visitation schedule as you understand it. Sending an email can help to give you written proof that you tried to manage the situation calmly and constructively. Ask your attorney to proofread a draft of your communication if you are concerned about being misunderstood.
Clarify Court Order
If there is confusion over the terms of the visitation rights, it can be helpful to ask the court to clarify the visitation schedule. Perhaps your ex-spouse thinks you drop your child off late every weekend when you two simply have two different definitions of the “dinner time” your visitation schedule requires. Or perhaps you can’t agree on which parent your child goes to for which holiday. The clearer the schedule is, the less likely its terms will be violated.
Sometimes no matter how much you try to plan the visitation schedule, it might not work for the child as they grow older. They have school activities, dance practice, and friends to see after school. Requesting a modification to the visitation schedule can help you to navigate the “changing landscape” of parenthood as your child grows.
If your ex continues to violate your visitation rights despite everything else you’ve tried, you’ll need to return to court to enforce the visitation order. Remember, the visitation order is legally binding and the court can hold your ex accountable for violations. If you’re tempted to violate the terms of your agreement yourself, don’t. Absent a modification approved by the court, you aren’t legally permitted to violate the terms of the agreement simply because your ex does. Also, proving that you honor the terms of the agreement and your ex doesn’t will make you look good and them look bad.