Having a reliable schedule for custody exchanges reduces the likelihood of conflict between parents and makes life more predictable for the children in a family. Children thrive on routine, and they look to their parents to maintain that routine during tumultuous times, such as during and after a divorce.
Once the adults in a family have worked out a shared custody schedule, custody exchanges should generally involve only minimal interaction between parents and should be predictable for the entire family. Unfortunately, not every parent will fully uphold their responsibilities to the family in a shared custody scenario. All too often, one parent in the family may consistently show up late to pick up or drop off their children. What can the other parent do when confronted with that frustrating, potentially-destabilizing behavior?
They can document what occurs
In some cases, these delays might mean that one parent loses time with the children. Other times, they may simply have scheduling challenges for the rest of the day because of the other parents’ tardiness. To correct a frustrating custody situation, a parent first has to have proof of what has happened. Keeping a detailed written record of every time the other parent shows up late, including what, if any, attempts at communication they made and how late they actually were, can help a parent show that there is a pattern of frustrating delays and scheduling interruptions caused by the other parent’s inability to arrive on schedule.
They can discuss the matter with their co-parent
Sometimes, individuals struggle with time management. They may need to implement special systems to help themselves get places on time consistently. Having a discussion with a co-parent outlining how frequently their late arrivals occur might convince them to engage in better time management practices. However, if they do not change their habits, it may be necessary to go back to court.
They can ask for a modification
The California family courts can potentially update a custody order to reflect one parent’s inability to manage their time. They might order additional parenting time for the adult deprived of access to the children because of delays or reduce the parenting time of an adult who consistently destabilizes the household schedule. The family courts can also engage in enforcement efforts that might include holding someone in contempt of court for their inability to uphold the existing custody order.
Making changes to parenting arrangements can be an appropriate solution to a scenario in which one parent consistently shows up late and affects the schedule for the entire family.