Wife hasn't been following plan now she wants to. What 2 do?


Sorry for the length, but please read…
To make a long story short, and again I am sorry this is long, my wife went to jail over a year ago after getting into an altercation with her 13yo in front of my 7yo and 17yo. She had been drinking. The state then stepped in and directed me on a course of action, having me to do certain things to ensure that she didn’t have access to the kids, including changing the locks on the house, filing for custody, packing her stuff, getting a restraining order against her, etc. If I didn’t comply they were going to take all 3 kids. So naturally I complied, all the while looking like an evil, vindictive guy trying to screw the wife and ruin her life. For 3 months she didn’t see our daughter at all, and at that point for my daughters sake I offered to be a supervisor so they could see each other. a few times a week for a few hours. After 6 months we had mediation on the parenting plan and I didn’t push for sole custody, I offered to have joint custody and joint physical. We agreed with the stipulation that she could not drink while our daughter was in her care, or she would forfeit joint rights. For a couple months we tried to see if we could find some way to make the marriage work, and my wife spent some time at the house, but rarely took her to her house. Her drinking continued, but not while she had our daughter that I know of and there were some incidents that occurred that caused me to abandon hope of reconciliation.By the end of December she was hardly seeing my daughter and would disappear sometimes for a week at a time with no calls, or seeing our daughter. In this past march she started regularly calling to take her on Sundays after church, drop her off with me Monday before school, got her after work Monday, and repeated for Tuesdays. She wasn’t regular even on this schedule and it wasn’t uncommon for her to no show, no call, or just not take her on even these some of these days. She would give excuses like I have a headache, or I am not feeling well, so I can’t take her today. Or she had other plans with friends, etc.
Now she has started calling the day before, or on days that have been mine based on the status quo for quite some time, and wanting her. I have made plans with our daughter and it was last minute, and I couldn’t accommodate her and she charges me with being uncooperative. Keeping our daughter from her, etc. She has done this a few times the past 3 weeks or so, and now says that because I am not cooperating, we need to go by the parenting plan all of a sudden. And if I don’t, I am in contempt. She is really playing it up. I feel she is doing it because of the impending court battle, and is trying to boost her time and appear like she is now taking our daughter to better her chances in court, and try to suddenly make me out to the the controlling, uncooperative parent. She keeps making accusations, threatening, calling and harassing me. I have always been accommodating to her and her completely inconsistent time with our daughter, but she is trying real hard to turn it around on me and make me look bad. Last night I conceded and let her take my daughter after she no showed for whatever her reasons on Monday, and no showed or no called on Tuesday. Today she no showed for the exchange to get her back and simply sent me an email stating she wasn’t going to be there because she wasn’t going to work. She won’t answer the phone. I feel she is trying to strong arm me, and now may not be cooperative in bringing her back, maybe trying to enforce her own will in following the parenting plan? What should I do in this situation? Should go back and start honoring the long unhonored/never honored parenting plan and suddenly support her cause to look like the involved mother, or do I stick to what has been the status quo and risk being labeled as controlling, uncooperative, barring her from contact, and violating the parenting plan? I am so confused, and want to do the right thing, but I need to maintain at least 50 percent minimum visitation to secure the safety of my daughter because of my wife’s history and track record of alcohol abuse and many troubling events (she had been in treatment for 7 months prior to moving to NC, and fell off the wagon here and is still drinking) I can’t trust that if she wins our daughter back that there won’t be potential future safety issues for my daughter because of her drinking problem. I am unemployed and have no money even for an attorney and her parents are gearing this all up and paying for the attorney to get custody of our daughter back to my wife so she can potentially move out of state. Please let me know what my options are and what I should do in regards to this Parenting plan issue. Any help is GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you in advance!


In the absence of an agreement to the contrary you do need to follow the parenting plan that is in place until you can have it changed. Otherwise she could file a motion and you could be held in contempt of court.
I suggest you file a motion to modify custody with the court based on a substantial change in circumstances ie: you agreed to the plan when she was on a more even keel, and since then she has reverted to drinking, and she has not been consistent with her visitation and custodial time.


Thanks Erin, I will let her follow it again. My only concern is the threats of her going for full custody to move out of state and using this a a step to show she is doing the right thing to help her case. Should I be concerned? Would it be in my best interest to file a motion now for being in contempt herself, drinking, and not being consistent with her visitation and custodial time? Should I be filing for primary custody instead of joint? Can you point me in the direction of some resources for potentially getting either pro bono help with my daughter, or something else? Considering my circumstances. I am pretty defenseless because of my unemployment status, and they are trying to take advantage of that right now. Any advice or direction is very appreciated.


I do think, with her drinking and irratic behaviour, you will have a good shot at primary custody…especially since she has violated your parenting agreement on numerous occasions.

If she tries to move with your kids (to another state), you can go to court to prevent that.

Keep good records of all incidents of non-compliance and document all your concerns.


You should contact the legal aid office in your county to proceed with a motion to modify custody and for contempt in the near future.