“My Ex Is Always Late For Exchanges. Can Anything Be Done?”
A perpetual problem in courthouses across the country is “what do you do when one party is constantly late for custody exchanges?” One the one hand, courts don’t want to be that involved in every day exchanges; they want parties to behave like grownups, keep to the schedule, and call if they are going to be late. One the other hand, constant failure to exchange on time is a real problem and is disobedience of a court order. It can create real problems if you have plans that are disrupted by the late exchanges.
So how does a judge resolve these issues?
Well, to start with, there will be warnings. Judges will also listen to explanations, if there are reasonable ones, for the lateness. The judge may not do anything substantial the first time around. However, you should keep records of the late exchanges and revisit the issue later with more proof if you don’t get some relief the first time through. When presented with a long-term problem with one part being late, a judge will often make orders such as a waiting period, and then if no pickup in that time period, then the visitation is forfeited. This is more common for shorter periods of time (after school visitation, for instance) but can apply to longer periods, too. For instance, a part who is supposed to pick up on Friday night at 6pm for a weekend visitation but doesn’t show up until 8pm will probably have to wait until Saturday morning to do the pickup.
In the end, if you have an ex who just can’t or just won’t be on time, you are going to have a lot of frustration and irritation. Hopefully with documentation and presenting the real problems encountered to the judge, you will be given some tools and ways to ease the burden and make the visitations work more smoothly.
Being on time is important—not just for you and your ex, but because of what it does to the children. Disappointment about seeing a parent or doing an activity with them and having it canceled is a very hard thing for a child to understand. They remember. They don’t forget. Down the road, it can cause serious relational problems and what may seem like a small deal to you is not one to you your child.
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