Getting used to visitation is a challenge for the entire family. It’s stressful for your children to be on a new schedule and to spend time with a parent in shorter chunks. It’s stressful for you to see your children head out the door, knowing you won’t see them for a while. It’s also stressful for your ex, who is adjusting to a new type of parenting.
One of the most common problems families encounter with visitation has to do with the pickups and drop offs. Not only is this a highly stressful time for children (the transition from one parent to the other brings the divorce to light and all the emotions involved often get stirred up), but it is a time of great conflict for parents. Not being on time is one of the biggest complaints parents have about each other. If your ex regularly shows up late to pick up your children, your kids become tense waiting and you feel frustrated if things you have planned for yourself are delayed. When children are returned home late it can throw off their schedule (eating, sleeping, homework) and also cause a lot of anger and frustration.
So how big a window does your ex really have? 15 to 20 minutes is about the maximum amount of time that would be considered a reasonable delay, unless there is a phone call and a good explanation. A parent who shows up an hour late for a scheduled pick up without having called can expect to be turned away. If your ex is regularly and significantly late, you should civilly ask him or her to keep to the schedule. If that doesn’t work, talk to your attorney about when you can refuse visitation and when you need to go back to court to have your order modified. Keep a journal so you have a record of how late your ex regularly is. Constant lateness is not fair to you or your children and the court understands this.
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