Can I keep my child if my ex is late to pick them up?
When couples go through a divorce, there are many important decisions that need to be made. Many of these decisions revolve around the children as well. Parents need to determine who will have legal and physical custody of the children. They also need to determine when each parent will have the children in their care. This is known as a visitation schedule. These schedules are created based on what is in the best interests of the children to create consistency for both the children and the parents.
These schedules are made when the divorce is finalized and can be in effect for many years after the couple actually divorces. After divorces circumstances change though, also various unexpected events arise during life that make it difficult to always follow the schedule perfectly. It is understandable in some situations why a parent may not be able to exercise their parenting time or be late wither picking up the children or dropping them off.
It is important that parents communicate with each other in these situations so both understand what is occurring. If this happens occasionally it may not be a big deal. However, some parents are consistently late for exchanges of the children. This can be very frustrating for the parents and difficult on the children who expect the other parent to be there at a specific time. People plan their lives around these schedules and being late can force a parent to miss other obligations as well.
What to do if a parent is habitually late
If a parent is late for exchanges, unless the court order states otherwise, it does not necessarily mean they forfeit their parenting time. The late parent should be given their parenting time if the tardiness is reasonable or there has been communication. Parents may need to change the exchange location depending on the circumstances, but it is best not to deny parenting time. It would be best for the parent to file a motion with the court to modify visitation or to find the late parent in contempt. Courts can then change the orders to help ensure visitation exchanges occur on time.
There are many parents in New York with custody and visitation orders. These parents know that life is not lived on a piece of paper and issues may arise, but parents are required to follow the orders as best as possible. If a parent is late, seeking a modification of the visitation schedule or enforcing the current order is the best option. Experienced attorneys understand how to deal with modifying visitation schedules and may be able to guide one through the process.