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Divorced Dads Tips: What to do When Mom Claims Visitation / Access Disrupts the Kids Routines

Mar 1, 2008
DISCLAIMER: The following is NOT legal advice, nor is it a substitute for legal advice. If you are in Family Court you will need legal advice, so please see a lawyer.

Sometimes the issue of transporting the children during access / visitation times becomes extremely contentious. On a recent teleseminar, Heidi Nabert, President of The National Shared Parenting Association and I were asked the following:

I am wondering about driving issues. My ex just moved from nearby to faraway and generally I see the kids every Wednesday night, take them swimming or skating. It is going to be a lot more difficult. We just keep on arguing against the Wednesday night claiming that it is disruptive and they need to get to bed on time and now she has moved another 15 minutes further from where I live so it makes it all that more difficult. We are about 1/2 hour apart what should I do?

This divorced dad has the kids every other weekend, Friday after school to Monday morning at school and sees them on Wednesday evening per the current court order.

Mom is complaining that all this driving is disruptive to the kids who are 4 and 7 years old. There have never been any complaints from daycare or teachers about the driving and activities such as swimming and skating being disruptive that the kids get all wound up. Then they are hard to put to bed. Then the next day at school is rough, according to Mom, but not substantiated by anyone else.

How would activities the children enjoy be disruptive? This is of benefit to the kids. Really the issues are the kids don't get to bed on time because they are excited.

Perhaps, as a suggestion, the solution is this dad should have them kids overnight on the weeknight. That would be less disruptive.

Sometimes when you focus on a sole issue like that, when you cannot get to an agreement and you take on that particular sole issue, very often it will come back as a bunch of nonsense from the other side. The response has to be, "Well, Your Honor, if any of that was even serious in the first place, why was it not brought up?

The only real issue here is that she is saying it is disruptive. They do not get to bed on time. Certainly, if they remain with me they would get to bed on time. Here is all the benefit they have up to now. They are a little bit older. It is a material change of circumstances. It is only one night."

That's an example of the slice theory at work. We are minimizing disruption through integration. Demonstrate benefits to the children and ask why putting the kids to bed at your home won't solve the problem.

And stick to that point make them prove that it cannot work. It's unlikely they can't, and really what we are talking about here is 8-10 hours of sleeping time.

That's what Mom is really fighting over, and that's the best way to characterize it. That it is not about disruption, its really about a misplaced sense of a loss of power and control perfectly understandable, but not necessarily reasonable or best for the kids who also have a strong bond with their father.

Obviously the children are excited and having a GREAT time. So the best place for the wind down from that is with their father who was part of that fun, rather than expecting kids to shift gears the moment they get back to Mom's.

That's a better and more accurate reframing of the facts, evidence and argument from my perspective; having been one of those kids myself, and having been a both a custodial and non-custodial parent.

Always try to find the high ground and be solution focused. Don't try to blame mom, or claim that you are better than her. Simply assert that you are as essential to the children's happiness, well-being and development as Mom, but in different ways.

You both bring important things into the lives of your children. Celebrate those differences and look for the strengths and what they provide for your children.

If you focus on that approach, you then are the solution focused peacemaker. And that is a VERY good position to be in when you are in front of a Family Court Judge seeking an order that best meets your children's needs.
About the Author
Danny Guspie - Executive Director of Fathers Resources International can help you learn the successful strategies of fathers who have won in Family Court. Join us on our weekly calls at

where we will share with you what works for successful divorced dads.
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