After you and your children's other parent split up, finding the perfect balance of spinning plates to necessary to raise children together but separately is very difficult. Even with a court order that outlines how your parenting duties and privileges get divided, your ex may not follow the guidelines laid out in the custody agreement.
Depending on the nature of these offenses, it may be a moderate annoyance, but not a legal issue. If your ex continually arrives late to drop off or pick up, for instance, it is difficult to use the strength of the law to enforce punctuality.
However, it is very possible that your ex is breaking the law and needs some stronger legal boundaries to help him or her be the parent that they need to be.
If you have frustrations with the way your children's other parent abides by the custody order (or fails to), it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney. Upon examining the specifics of your conflict, an attorney may find opportunities you do not yet see, and can ensure that your rights and priorities as a parent remain protected.
What if he or she takes the kids somewhere without your knowledge?
This is a good example of a conflict that may or may not have a practical legal remedy. Let's imagine that your children's other parent has them for an extended period of time, either in the summer or over Fall Break.
You find out after the fact that he or she chose to take the children somewhere far away from where you expected, like a road trip to Yosemite National Park. Only when they come back do you find out about the trip.
Understandably, you probably object to your children going out of state without your knowledge. However, this is where the terms of your custody agreement are particularly important. If the agreement does not forbid it, your children can accompany their father or mother anywhere without informing the other parent.
However, if it is addressed in the agreement, the other parent may face losing some privileges by order of the court.
It is also possible to petition the court to revisit your custody arrangement and change the terms to provide better structure for keeping you in the loop moving forward. Modifying custody agreements is very common, and many custody agreements even have built in periods for re-evaluation.
Always keep your children in mind
Being a parent can feel all-consuming, and sometimes the stress of a conflict leads us to make choices we wouldn't otherwise make. Be intentional to address this conflict in a way that demonstrates maturity and care to your children.
However you choose to approach your dilemma, make sure you fully understand the scope of the issue. With some professional legal counsel, you may find that you have even more options than you realize.