By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
What happens when a divorced dad has been noticing that his ex-wife’s parenting time has been increasingly interrupted with activities that she seems to place above her children?
There are many stories on the DadsDivorce.com divorce forum where fathers tell of their ex-wives being on the phone all day texting their new boyfriend “Mr. Wonderful” or plopping the kids in front of the TV for five hours while she’s out with friends.
Here are some real-life examples of when parents do not use their parenting time effectively:
- Two or three nights a week, Mom goes to happy hour after work and picks up the children late those evenings from daycare. The daycare provider has mentioned this late pick-up to the dad the last two times he has picked up the children on Fridays for his parenting time over the weekend. She has expressed concern about the mom driving the kids home when she is “tipsy.”
- Mom has joined a gym and drops the kids off an hour earlier some mornings at the daycare house so that she can hit the gym before work.
- Mom has a new male “friend” that she spends time with one or two evenings a week. The friend’s 14-year-old daughter babysits while Mom and the new friend are out having fun.
The father of the children resents the mother’s extracurricular activities because they are infringing upon her all-important parenting time. From the minute that he picks the kids up from the babysitter on Friday nights, they are clingy and demanding.
Edward Kruk, Ph.D., and advocate of shared parenting, wrote an article in the Journal of Family Therapy on inconsistent parenting on the part of one parent in a shared-parenting arrangement:
“Another important concern about shared parenting is that it may be disruptive and confusing for children to have two homes, where they encounter two different lifestyles and value systems; shared parenting, it is suggested, inherently creates an unstable, impermanent condition for children. In rebuttal, it has been shown that children have strong attachment bonds and relationships with both parents, and show remarkable tenacity in continuing these under a variety of conditions (Richards, 1982).”
The mother’s cavalier practices of picking up the kids hours late from daycare, dropping them off early, and spending time with her boyfriend two or three nights a week while his 14-year-old babysits equates to hours and hours of valuable parenting time that the mother is taking away from her children.
Different drop-off and pick-up times from daycare, coupled with nights out with the boyfriend, and supervision by a 14-year-old represent an increasing lack of continuity in the children’s routine.
When an ex-wife is not putting the children first in a shared-parenting arrangement, a dad can begin taking steps to remedy the situation not only to assert his rights but also for the benefit of the children.
If you think you have a case for a child custody modification and more parenting time, contact the divorce lawyers for men at Cordell & Cordell.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.