By the time this article posts my son will have turned 9 years old and I will have missed his birthday.
Voluntarily taking a back-seat as a caring, involved father is difficult to do, to say the least – but because of the way many states’ laws are written, a large number of fathers are required to do just that. My regular schedule with my son during his school year means that I don’t see him for a week at a time every-other week. That’s very difficult to do under good circumstances, but when there are co-parenting and communication difficulties, it can be excruciating.
I have a hard and fast rule on this site that I never post anything that ‘bashes’ an ex and I’ll maintain that standard for myself and anyone else that guest posts on my site. The fact is that many parents – both moms and dads – have a great deal of difficulty when dealing with their ex for really no logical reason at all. How do you handle a situation when the behavior of the other party just doesn’t make any sense?
By the time this article posts my son will have turned 9 years old and I will have missed his birthday. How am I clairvoyant, you ask? My ex refused to allow me to see him on his birthday due to a technicality in our custody agreement. The exact wording of the section of our agreement is below:
Three (3) hours of visitation with the child(ren) between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m during each child’s birthday. The non-residential parent shall confirm to the residential parent at least ten (10) days in advance of each child’s birthday of the intent to exercise this visitation. This visitation shall be awarded to the residential parent, if the child’s birthday falls on a regularly scheduled visitation day.
Battling technicalities exactly like this was one of the reasons that prompted me to file for a modification. What this says is that I (as the ‘non-residential’ parent) am required to request time with my son on his birthday at least 10 days prior. If I do not make this request in time, she can refuse. In reality, she doesn’t even need a reason to say no since my request is just expressing my ‘intent’. This year I mistakenly forgot about the 10 day requirement and made the request only 8 days in advance. She refused to allow me to see him on his birthday because of this technicality. I’ve seen him on every one of his previous birthdays (except another instance of her also refusing contact before we had any agreement in place) and my son also told me that he wanted to see me on his birthday. I can’t speculate as to my ex’s reasoning – she wasn’t technically in the wrong, but her decision didn’t only impact me but it affected my son as well. He was brought to tears at the idea of not seeing his dad on his birthday and I can’t say I blame him.
How I Deal With My Unreasonable Ex
Dealing with difficulties like this can be almost too much to handle at times. Irrational and arguably damaging behavior and that which seemingly goes against all logic can be very frustrating. Here are a few tips that have served me well so far when dealing with my unreasonable ex.
Tip 1 – Look for a Work-around
Instead of rolling over or blowing up, I went looking for my own work-around to patch up the situation. I called the school and learned the details about what was required to have lunch with my son that day. I didn’t get my regular 3 hours with him as our agreement provided, but at least I still got to see him on his special day and spend some quality time together.
Tip 2 – Choose Your Battles
This tip and the next will, at first glance, be a little bit contradictory. I could have gone ballistic when she informed me that I wouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to see my son because of my late notice, but I kept my cool. Escalating a situation is often not the best course of action when it comes to custody matters. Doing so will risk hurting more than your ex and can also have an impact on your children. If your intentions are pure then your children’s best interests really should be your primary concern.
Tip 3 – Stand Up For Yourself
Tip 2 is not advocating being a total push-over, but instead is a ‘choose your battles’ recommendation. If you feel that you’re regularly taken advantage of and (especially) if you think your child’s other parent is making decisions that clearly aren’t in your child’s best interests, you should take action through the proper legal channels. Consulting with an attorney and discussing your case is really the best way to enact change in your situation.
Notice: This information is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with appropriate legal advisors in your own jurisdiction.