Dealing With a Habitually Late Parent at Child Custody Exchanges

Let’s consider the factual scenario where every time you go to meet your former spouse or significant other to exchange the custody of the children, that person is late causing you to wait around with your children until that person eventually arrives. This is certainly frustrating. It is rude and poor co-parenting by the offending parent. This is not uncommon.

What Can You Do About Late Parents?

Perhaps the offending parent needs to be educated. Before proceeding to court, it might benefit the parents to discuss this lateness problem with a trained mental health professional such as a marriage and family therapist jointly selected by the parties. Parents do not always realize that they are hurting their children by treating the other parent with disrespect.

Lateness is disrespectful because one parent says to the other that my time is more important than your time. Of course, the child is also having to wait, which is more apparent to older children than younger children who might not be aware of the lateness of the other parent. Nevertheless, the children usually have a sense of the warfare that is going on between their parents.

As the offending parent becomes later and later, the parent waiting might be getting angrier and angrier. Sometimes, comments might be made in the presence of the children, which is not a good idea, but it happens. The children are affected by the stress that is often unnecessarily taking place between their parents. If the parents lose the respect of the child, they absolutely lose in the end. The children are looking at their parents’ behavior, and it will likely bite the offending parent in the end.

Court Intervention for Chronic Lateness

If out-of-court attempts to resolve the problem do not work, getting before a judge for court orders might be the only alternative. Accountability is important, whether it is a protocol for the return of children's clothing or a timed receipt to prove that a party was on time for a custodial exchange.

To that end, a judge might order that the meeting place for custodial exchanges of a child take place at a neutral location if a parent is often late. For example, the parents could meet at a local McDonald's restaurant or Jack-in-the-Box. A timely parent may then obtain a timed receipt at a store with some minor purchase such as a drink or a food item. Therefore, she or he will have proof that he or she was on time, which would then be properly admissible evidence before a court.

Sometimes, the judge might reduce the visitation hours of the offending parent for repetitive tardiness. In a more severe case, this tardiness problem could result in a change of custody or parenting plan, especially if the tardiness affects the child adversely such as causing the child to be late for school or extra-curricular activities. The experienced child custody attorneys at Richard Ross Associates serving your area could help you with this kind of custody problem or other problems that might be occurring.

If you need legal advice and advocacy regarding child custody issues arising from your divorce, contact Richard Ross Associates at (805) 410-5407 to schedule a case evaluation today.

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