When divorced parents live close to each other, it is likely that there will be times that one or both need the other parent to take the children unexpectedly. If you have a visitation agreement with your former spouse, should you take the children when you have the opportunity or stick to the written rules? The answer to this question depends on your particular circumstances as well as the relationship you have with your former partner.
When you are deciding whether or not to go outside of your regular custody agreement and take your children when it is not your time to have them, consider the following questions:
- Does your custody agreement allow for flexibility? When the relationship between the divorcing parties is relatively amicable, they often leave some “wiggle” room in the custody agreement to cover the unexpected. If you and your spouse are both in agreement, taking the children when it is not your scheduled visitation time every now and then is usually fine.
- How do you get along with your ex? If your ex is vindictive and tries to use every possible opportunity to harm you, switching visitation days is not usually a good idea, even if she seems to be very much in need. Once you switch days, she may claim that you have broken the agreement, even if it was her idea. This can lead to problems if you must hold her accountable for visitation issues later.
- How much time do you have with your children? Many men will watch their children at any opportunity just to spend time with them. That is fine, but it is important to remember that you can become an unpaid babysitter easily if your ex-wife decides to take advantage of your good nature. If you find yourself keeping your children often when your wife is supposed to have them, it may be worthwhile to discuss amending your visitation agreement with your attorney.
It is natural to want to spend as much time as possible with your children. However, when you have a custody agreement with your former spouse, it is also important to consider how going outside that agreement may affect your future relationship with your ex and your children. A family law attorney like those at Men’s Legal Center in San Diego can give you good advice on how to handle issues involving custody.