A frequent issue divorced dads face this time of year is what to do when the other parent cuts their holiday parenting time short.
This is a common problem because of the hectic nature of most family’s holiday schedule. Your ex-wife might have relatives come into town at the last minute and want to keep the kids longer.
Every divorce decree should contain specific provisions about the possession of children during major holidays, but those are sometimes ignored.
Ideally in a co-parenting scenario, you and your spouse can be cooperative and flexible enough to work out an arrangement in the children’s best interest. If that’s not possible, there are additional actions you can take.
The most essential step you need to take is to get everything down in writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s handwritten notes, email or text messages, get your agreed upon holiday schedule written down. That is the most key piece of evidence in possession disputes.
Also make sure you have a clear understanding of your parenting time schedule well in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Review the schedule and confirm with your ex-wife your understanding of the days and times you are slated to have the kids.
If you know in advance that your ex plans to violate your parenting time, try to get some proof. At the start of your scheduled parenting time, send her an email or text message stating that you plan on taking legal action if she doesn’t bring you the kids.
Obviously, there are scenarios where nothing can be done ahead of time. Your former spouse might not give you any indication of her intent, but simply refuse to return the children at the agreed upon time.
In that case, you’ll likely need to file an enforcement action after she has committed the violation. Unfortunately, since most courts are closed on and near major holidays, you will be forced to wait until after the holidays to present a motion.
But if you are able to gather advance notice that your ex plans on violating your parent time, you might be able to seek emergency protection from the courts in advance.
As soon as you have evidence of her intentions, contact your attorney immediately.
The holidays should be the happiest time of the year for you and your kids. You need to take as many precautions as possible to make sure you’re able to enjoy it with them.