How do you address a co-parent who doesn’t show up for the kids?

Co-parenting with your ex after the end of your relationship will be a challenge even if both of you commit to being respectful and focusing on the kids. If your ex has a history of being irresponsible or particularly selfish, that could quickly start to affect your co-parenting arrangements.

Once you negotiate your parenting plan or a North Carolina judge divides your parenting rights and responsibilities, you have a custody order that dictates when both of you are responsible for the children.

If your ex consistently fails to show up, it could cost you your job if you don’t have alternate childcare pre-arranged. More importantly, frequent cancellations and no-shows by a parent can cause emotional damage for the children. How do you address a parent who doesn’t arrive for their parenting time?

Document the issue, and discuss it calmly

The first step to correcting an imbalance in parental responsibilities will likely be to take a few weeks to gather documentation. Your ex will probably push back against any accusations you make, so you need to have clear, written examples with full details.

That documentation will help you prove your point in a conversation about how frequently the cancellations occur and how they impact you and the children. If you think you will become emotional if you talk in person or on the phone, compiling the information into an email may be a better way to stay calm. Ideally, they will understand that they need to step up for the kids. If they do not, then you may need to go back to family court.

You may need to modify the parenting plan

Every time your ex doesn’t show up, they disrupt your schedule and cause a small amount of emotional damage to the children. The more frequently this occurs and the longer it persists, the worse the impact will become. You can potentially ask for a modification that reduces their parenting time.

A family law judge may understand that your motivation is likely not to keep your ex away from the kids but rather to minimize the damage of the constant cancellations. A modification can reduce your ex’s parenting time. It could also increase what they have to pay in child support. After a few months, they may start to miss their children and want to become more involved again. Even if they do not, your children at least will not suffer when they cancel yet again.

Advocating for what is best for your children is crucial in a shared custody arrangement in North Carolina.

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