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How do parents respond to an ex not following the custody order?

| Jun 23, 2021 | Child Custody |

Shared custody can be one of the hardest things about a breakup or divorce. You have to constantly see your ex and stay positive about them in front of the children, which isn’t always easy. Shared custody can be even more difficult if your ex just won’t abide by the terms set by the courts.  

Your Maryland custody order likely discusses a specific division of parental responsibilities and establishes when you need to exchange custody. Unfortunately, some people just won’t follow those rules.  

Maybe your ex always shows up late to get the kids or drops them off after their bedtime. Perhaps they wait until the last minute and cancel their visitation or custody time with almost no forewarning. What do parents do when their exes won’t following the custody order? 

You will need proof that your ex isn’t fulfilling their parental responsibilities 

Typically, custody enforcement actions focus on a parent refusing access to the children, not someone who doesn’t show up. Rather than going to court and asking for custody enforcement, many parents choose to start documenting your ex’s erratic behavior.  

Keeping a journal or using a parenting app to track every canceled session and every late arrival can help a frustrated parent show a pattern of behavior. Once they have documented several weeks’ or several months’ worth of questionable custody behavior by their ex, they have the option to ask for a modification.  

Why would a change in custody help?  

It is a sad fact that some parents ask for shared custody for selfish reasons. They don’t necessarily want to spend time with their kids. They just don’t want to have substantial child support obligations. It is more common than you think for people to ask for 50-50 custody to avoid financial responsibility and then just fail to show up for their parenting time.  

Going to the courts to request a modification can help those with custody issues in a couple of different ways. It might make their ex realize that they either have to start showing up or they will end up responsible for child support. They might fight back and actually start fulfilling their parental responsibilities to the kids. 

On the other hand, the absentee parent might not even contest the modification request and could instead allow the other parent to assume primary or even sole custody. Sole custody means less disruption to the family schedule, and the custodial parent could potentially receive more support to offset the lack of their ex’s actual involvement with the kids.  

Understanding how to respond to custody issues with your ex will make it easier for you to advocate for yourself and your children.