Visitation - woe is me


#1

My ex-husband continuallly falls short in the visitaion area. Our divorce decree states that he is supposed to inform me a week in advance when he wants to see our kids. I chose open visitaions over the usual every other woeekend prescription because he is in the military, and we never know when he is going to be aroound. Our kids are 19, 16, and 14 years old. For the last year and half, I have said yes to every single time he wanted to take them. The few times that he actually followed through, he complained that I said the children had to be home at a certain time. He was living with people who “didn’t want other kids running around” and then staying in the barracks, so our kids could not spend the night. He is now expressing that he never gets to see his kids and I have “too many rules”. I have two: Let me know where they are going, and home by 1030pm on Saturdays because they attend church on Sundays. There have been numerous times when he just doesn’t show up, or he changes his mind at the last minute. For example, he was going to take our daughter’s to his military ball. He ignored text messages about taking them to get dresses. Two days before the event, he said he had to sit by the General and there wasn’t room for both girls. Yet, he told my girls I said they couldn’t go because it was being hosted in a college town. These stories continue. I no longer wish to speak to him at all, especially not about when he can see the kids; since it will inevitably fall back on me. Is there a way to legally enforce that he see his children on a certain set-up schedule, and can I avoid all verbal communication with him?
Thank you for your assistance with this matter.
Jocelynn


#2

I am not an attorney

My understanding is that as the custodial parent, YOU can be forced to follow the visitation schedule set forth in the order, meaning if he’s supposed to have them, and you say no, you’re in contempt/breach (depending on how it’s filed). BUT, if he’s supposed to see them on a certain day, and chooses not to exercise his visitation, there is nothing you can do.

So, basically, he can decide to see them or not, but you cannot decide to let him see them or not…if it’s ordered, then you have to do it.

Now, with it being an “open” schedule, I don’t know how that would work exactly, but you still can’t force him to take his visitation time.


#3

The courts view visitation as a privilege and not an obligation. You cannot force him to come if he doesn’t come, even if he said he would. In order for you to change the custody arrangement you would have to allege and prove that a substantial change in circumstances affecting the best interests of your children has occurred since the entry of the last order. His track record of missing visitation, etc., would not look good if he was to try to contest it. I would recommend filing your own motion to modify custody based on the alleged detrimental affect to the children. Then you can spell out specific visitation schedules so you don’t have to constantly go back and forth, but you still won’t be able to make him follow the schedule. All it would do for you is keep him from demanding the children at times not outlined in the schedule.