Your ex needs to pick the kids up on Friday night — instead of Saturday morning when the custody agreement says that their parenting time starts. They’re planning a big weekend trip with the kids, and they tell you that they need to get an early start. Do you allow it?
If you refuse, you might be called “unreasonable.” Too many refusals over minor requests can make you look hostile and unwilling to work with your ex in your children’s best interests. This can be very problematic in court if your ex decides to challenge the current custody plan.
However, you don’t want your ex to simply expect that you’ll bend over backwards to accommodate their every whim — particularly if your ex is the “if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile” sort. You also don’t want the disruption to your life and routine that comes with every request (including the extra phone calls or messages from your ex).
One method you can use to manage these kinds of issues is to have a clause in your custody agreement that limits how many times your ex can make these kinds of requests for unscheduled changes. For example, you may freely allow an hour or two of leeway around each custody exchange — but limit the number of times bigger changes to the routine can be requested to just three times a year.
Good parenting plans anticipate a multitude of situations that parents can face surrounding custody. This is why it’s always important to have experienced legal advice when you’re developing one.