During the drama of a divorce, your ex may have dug their heels in and insisted that they wanted as much parenting time as they could get. They may have fought with you over every holiday and school vacation.
Unfortunately, now that the dust has settled and the courts have finalized your divorce, they don’t seem to want to show up for your kids anymore. While they may have shared custody rights, they keep canceling their parenting time or not even bothering to reach out to you.
You feel frustrated because you can’t plan your life, and your children probably feel hurt and abandoned because they don’t understand why their other parent has stopped coming to see them. What options do you have when your ex doesn’t show up for parenting time?
Document the missed parenting time
Keep a detailed record of all of the times your ex hasn’t shown up. Note when they alerted you to the cancellation, whether they attempted to schedule make-up time and how much notice they provided you.
The more documentation you have showing a pattern of irresponsible behavior, the easier it will be for you to show the courts that something needs to change in your parenting plan. The courts want to do what is best for the kids, and having disappointed hopes every weekend likely isn’t best for them. A history of no-shows can make it easier for you to get a modification.
Address your concerns with your ex
Given that you need to maintain a co-parenting relationship with your ex, you may want to try giving them the benefit of the doubt before you go to the courts. Communicate with them calmly and professionally in writing.
Give them a summary of the situation, including how many times they have failed to show up for their parenting time and how it has affected the children. Be careful to avoid accusatory or angry language so that your ex can’t try to turn the situation to their benefit.
If they don’t respond appropriately by acknowledging their previous failures and promising to correct the issue, then you may need to ask the New York family courts for a custody modification.
Your ex may have only asked for custody rights to avoid support obligations
One of the many factors that influence how much a parent pays in child support is the percentage of time that they have the children. Some parents push for 50/50 parenting time not because they actually intend to be present as a parent half of the time but rather that they simply want to avoid a child support order.
Your documentation showing a pattern of canceled parenting time can help you request both a custody and a support modification. Provided that the courts agree with you, they may adjust your custody order to reflect how little your ex actually parents. They may also increase the amount of child support to reflect that changed custody order.