By Jason Hopper
Attorney, Cordell & Cordell
As summer picks up, so do your kids’ activities. Seems like every weekend there are more and more practices, games, and meetings to attend. One problem though: you only get your kids every other weekend and it’s your ex-wife who has signed up your kids for these extracurricular activities that severely limit your visitation time.
Of course you are all for your children being involved in team sports and other organized activities, but are you required to take your children to activities scheduled by your ex-wife during your parenting time? What your rights are in responding to her scheduling activities during your time?
I would first look to your divorce decree and see what your decree says on treatment of extracurricular activities, or if there was an understanding at the time your dissolution was finalized. If your decree is silent or does not discuss the children’s activities, you could seek the Court’s intervention on clarifying this issue.
I have successfully litigated the issue of a custodial mother scheduling activities during a father’s parenting time arguing the fact that parenting time is a time for the non-custodial parent and the child(ren) to bond and spend quality time with one another. Although the ins and outs of your case may be different, it is no doubt similarly in your children’s best interests to have meaningful and quality time with yourself, their father, and that the greater good would be served in letting you schedule the activities the children engage in during your parenting time.
The argument may also be available that if the custodial mother is scheduling activities during your parenting time, that perhaps this has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances which could warrant a modification of custody, such that there has been a substantial and continuing change in the children’s adjustment to their community or activities, and that if Mother feels so strongly that the children should be in the activities, that it should take place on her parenting time.
The best advice, of course, is to seek out competent legal counsel, particularly from an attorney who limits their practice to domestic litigation.
Jason P. Hopper is an Associate Attorney in the Indianapolis, Indiana office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. where his primary practice is exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Hopper is licensed in the state of Indiana – All State and Appellate courts, US District Court Northern District Indiana, US District Court Southern District Indiana, US Bankruptcy Court Southern District Indiana.
5 comments on “Is Your Ex Scheduling Activities During Your Parenting Time?”
Children’s activities are not specifically set up to accommodate the children of divorce. Games are generally once a week and, when there is an every other weekend, mid week, etc visit, it is darn near impossible to schedule activities on one parents’ time alone! Mother (which is in the case I am referring too. It could be Dad also) is not deliberately signing the kids up for activities on Dad’s time! And I am sick of hearing noncustodial parents boo hooing about that! A divorced parent can’t pick and choose the days that an entire team can play to accommodate a belligerent narcissistic parent. Act like a regular parent and take the kid to his activities and be glad you aren’t paying for them. This is not all about you. If a child misses half his games, practices, or whatever activity he is in, he falls behind the others, and this affects his self esteem negatively. It is not the child’s fault you chose divorce and they shouldn’t have to give up their activities because of it.
Time with each parent can be considered “sacred”. Its not about his time or her time as a parent it is all the child’s time and how they want to spend their time. If a child wants to participate in an extracurricular activity then they should be allowed to do so because if one of the parents say no because it interfers with “their” time then they are not doing anything for the great good and are being selfish and thinking of only theirselves. Divorce sucks most for the children and it is a shame that they are forced to do things and miss out on things and they dont have a say so because of selfish parents. Children should have a say so in what they want and how they want to live their lives and time. It is a shame that parents feel that they own that child like an animal when the child is with them and they want to prevent a child from participating in activities, etc. because they think it is “their time”. Its all stupid, if a parent really loves a child they would support them in appropriate activities and let them have some say so in what they want instead of everything being dictated and laid out for them.
Parents need time to bond with their child(ren) and while, yes, they should be allowed to participate in activities, where is the line drawn? For non-custodial parents, they may have a limited time to spend quality time with their children. Most non-custodial parents only have a couple of hours during a mid-week visit and every other weekend, and that is just standard parenting time. And if activities are scheduled during the non-custodial parent’s normally scheduled parenting time, where does that quality time come in?
For custodial parents, they get to enjoy time that may, otherwise, be taken for granted. Like the time spent getting ready to go to said activities, or the drive there and/or home, while the non-custodial parent gets to watch from the sidelines during his or her parenting time…watching their child participate in something the child probably enjoys, but ultimately knowing that they have little to no interaction with their child to form the “sacred” bond.
Pray tell, how is it a shame that parents want to defend “their time”? That time is sacred; no quotations on sacred to emphasize the severity of the word. If a parent is given equitable “time” with the child(ren), then perhaps they would not be so quick to deny the child(ren) from participating in activities? Let’s break this down for a more digestible analogy. Take a starved animal, if it is finally allowed to have food and you attempt to interfere with its food, it will probably attack you. It’s defending something that it does not know if it will ever have any more of. However, if that animal is well-fed and you interfered with its food, it would act indifferent towards you. The same is said for a parent when they have time limits on visitation with their child. If you infringe upon that limited time, they will lash out. And that should not be construed as selfish and animalistic. It is that person’s inherent desire to protect their child. Protect from what, you ask? Protect their child from a life without them in it.
Who is that child going to remember more? The parent that took care of them on a day-to-day basis? Or the parent who was forced to watch from the sidelines because that was their parenting time? *Hint* Not the sideline parent.
The time dad has with his kids is sacred, that’s his time and what’s best for the kids. Mom needs to schedule activities on her time. It’s unfortunate, but when one parent is bitter and doesn’t want to co-parent and communicate, the kids are the ones that suffer.
I feel parents should support the childrens activities. Its about the kids,not what is best for them.