As divorce and separation go, one of the most frustrating things can be waiting for an ex to show up for visitation or custody swaps. You fought each other for months, an agreement was reached, now you each have a set of new responsibilities, which require you both to meet the terms of a detailed joint parenting agreement. It can be especially upsetting when one parent is not willing to stick to the terms of the agreement, frequently and repeatedly ignoring their obligations and inconveniencing the other parent at will. If this sounds familiar, just know there is hope. If the violations are bad enough, you may need to contact an experienced family law attorney near you to help you enforce the terms of the agreement or court order.
When two people are fighting over custody of a minor child in Maryland, there are several ways the court can establish parental roles. These include:
In the most technical sense, custody is akin to possession. It’s where the child lives, where their toys are, where they consider their primary home residence for school purposes, and so forth. But joint parenting is different. It has to do with decision making and time. One can receive physical custody, meaning the child will live with them, yet the other parent may actually be given more decision making in the arrangement or may have equal time with the child.
A big mistake in custody disputes is getting hung up on labels. One parent may be receiving physical custody of the child, but the other parent may still have an active role in making decisions about school, religion, and healthcare. Likewise, the noncustodial parent may have very generous parenting time. If you are the custodial parent, avoid terms like “visitation” or “your turn.” Rather, try to express your desire to facilitate your ex’s time and relationship with the child.
If your ex is frequently late for visitation or custody swaps, try to start by being open to making changes. Maybe work or other obligations make the time difficult. Could changing the timing slightly make a difference?
Next, if there’s no change and it is beginning to interfere with your own obligations or it is negatively affecting the child, put your concerns in writing. Respectfully express that you are concerned about how it is affecting your child and demonstrate willingness to make reasonable modifications to facilitate their relationship.
Finally, if there is still no change and it becomes a serious problem, contact Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland to discuss your options. Often you can petition the court to revise or modify your joint parenting agreement or even reduce visitation time, if indeed it is in the best interests of the child. Just remember that sometimes the fight is not worth the harm. Talk to a lawyer before taking drastic steps to limit your ex’s time with the child. But the longer you wait, the harder it can become to get the changes you want.
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