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.