The Decree says that the exchange will happen at 6:00, you arrive at the location, 6:15 comes, then 6:30 and no word from your ex. Kids are in the car crying, getting tired what do you do!? Finally, you get a call from him or her and they’re just too busy to take the kids this weekend, sorry, but you understand right? Well what do you do? What can you do? This happens all too frequently in Minnesota (and other states) and there is no great solution to this problem, but I’ve got a couple of tips for you that may help.
The first thing you need to accept is that if you are one of those people who follow the law, who feels that a judge’s order should be followed you are going to have some stress in your life. What? Is Kohlmeyer telling me not to follow the order? Absolutely not, you need to follow the order, but you also need to accept that not everyone else will follow the order. And what’s worse is that there is often very little that can be done to enforce the order. Oh you can file for contempt, but that is a long and possibly ineffective solution. During the past decade I’ve seen a lot clients get very stressed out when they see an order is not followed to the letter. You know your ex, if he or she is a jerk, they will continue to be a jerk.
Model Good Parenting Behavior
Ok. You understand the contempt system is a bit “lacking” in Minnesota but what can you do? Here is my advice. Model good behavior yourself. Be sure you are on time and that you are following the courts order TO THE LETTER. This is critical so that you cannot be accused of having what is called “Unclean Hands”. This is a legal doctrine that basically says if you are not following the law yourself, then why should the other side have to? So you follow the letter of the law and the order then what do you do?
Well, what I often suggest is to give the other side one more chance to change their ways. This means when your ex calls and says they will be late for pickup. Instead of going off on him telling him what a jerk and bad dad he is, tell them “Ok, but just remember when I need to do the changing remember that I worked with you and let you change the order.” Then keep a record this and if he is a jerk in the future and doesn’t let you change your weekend, or time then that’s it! No more free passes. Then you follow the order to the letter. If the order says exchange will be at 6:00 at the Mankato McDonalds and it’s 6:05 and he’s not there, leave. Once you’ve been reasonable for an extended period of time and your ex still ignores the order, make him or her follow it. One caveat, when I say leave…I am not saying your ex doesn’t get parenting time. No, just that if your ex wants parenting time he or she will have to drive to your house to pick up the kids.
Final Parenting Time Tips
Be sure to keep a record of each time he or she is late. Keep it accurate and easy to read. (if you have a smart phone I highly recommend the program Evernote, it’s a free program that stores notes in the cloud) then if you a have to modify parenting time to try and correct the constant being late or refusing to pick up, then you have an easy to read, accurate document you can give your lawyer.
In closing, you’ll notice I didn’t talk about modifying parenting time as a punitive or punishing measure. I didn’t do so because that is a whole other topic to deal with that is coming next week!
Any comments, questions or feedback feel free to post them on site, or if you subscribe feel free to email me.