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Can't FORCE visitation, right?

StepDoormat's picture

My DH is non-custodial and just has visitation EOW. That's actually what he wanted. Its just Saturday - Sunday EOW. He's a doctor and works quite a bit. During his previous marriage, BM was the caretaker... he couldn't exactly change this after the divorce. The last time we met with his attorney, I interpreted something he said differently than what DH did and want to call upon your experience with this...

BM is primary and custodial (no shared parenting at all). I KNOW that she can't withhold visitation (although she does allow SDs to refuse to come)or she could technically be in contempt. She does allow SDs to refuse visits, but we don't fight it because they suck to have over. However, we still have SS EOW. Sometimes though, DH cannot take SS because of his work commitments and I sure-as-shit will not be a babysitter.

The attorney (from what I remember) said that the opposite is NOT true. If DH chooses NOT to exercise his visitation, then he is allowed that choice. DH always feels like he has to ask "permission" not to exercise his visitation. He'll make comments like "well... if she says NO then I need to find a babysitter". I swear the attorney said just to make sure we give her at least 24 hours notice so he doesn't "look bad" later on if it ever came up. So far, she's never tried forcing DH to take the skid... but could she, LEGALLY?

I know that if he ALWAYS fails to exercise his rights, that she could seek an adjustment to have his rights revoked. But, we are talking about a few times a year. Or, we can't take him overnight so we just have him during the day, etc. Its not like he goes months without seeing him or anything.

Am I right? She can't legally FORCE him to use his visitation, right? If he says he needs to work, he's not in "contempt", correct?

He makes it seem like if he doesn't use his visitation he's violating some order. I specifically remember the attorney discussing this with us and said because she is the CP, she is responsible for him... but can't withhold him when DH is to excercise visitation.


smdh's picture

Visitation is his right. He isn't obligated to exercise that right. It sucks though because if he only sees the kid EOW and he can't schedule himself to be available it makes him look like he doesn't care to see the kid. Perhaps he can offer to switch if he has a conflict?

Anon2009's picture

I can somewhat understand why SDs don't come. They are teens. Teens don't want to hang out with "old people" like parents. They want to hang out with their friends. Their wanting to do so is a good thing. So is their not wanting to come over, because it keeps them out of your hair. Hopefully once they're adults they'll start seeing their dad more often and be able to relate to him as fellow adults.

Legally, your DH isn't obligated to fulfill his visitation but I think he is morally. He wants to be in SS life as much as he can- that is a good thing. I can totally understand if you don't want to see SS. Go visit family and friends, go for a run, go out to see a movie and dinner with a girlfriend, etc.

StepDoormat's picture

No, I agree. And as I replied to another poster... he isn't trying to AVOID seeing his son. Sometimes he CAN NOT trade with people. He seriously pulls so many favors and trades at work to make EOW work as it is that about 2 or 3 times per year, he just can't make it work. It so happens that this will be the case at the end of the month... and I will not "babysit" because of all the drama I've had with BM over the past year. I'm afraid she'd accuse me of abusing him or something absurd.

Anon2009's picture

Sorry, I should have thought of that when you stated his profession. I think he should ask bm if he could make up that time at a later date. If she says no, he is going to have to find family or friends who can watch ss. And if ss asks why he can't be watched by you, dh is going to have to come up with a white lie.

StepDoormat's picture

Unfortunately, no white lies needed. BM has screamed at SS when I took him for ice cream on one of our weekends that he is NEVER allowed to go somewhere with me alone again. The poor kid got in trouble because I took him for ice cream while DH went for a run outside. It took all of 30 minutes, but she flipped on HIM because she knew DH wouldn't entertain her crazy. Sad DH spoke to her about it, but she just flipped on him too. Its frustrating... and this is why I am asking this question. Any opportunity she has to drag him to court or turn his kids against him, she will.

StepDoormat's picture

Smile Thanks. You're right. God, sometimes in stepfamilies you learn to sweat EVERY.SINGLE.DETAIL for fear of court, alienation, what other people will think.

Its exhausting. Seriously.

StepDoormat's picture

OK - NO. We have SS EOW. I am talking about a COUPLE times per year - as I stated in my original post. Hold your horses here. Sometimes, he HAS to take call. He trades people until they are almost SICK of him asking so that he can accomodate his visitation schedule. When SS is here, we do TONS of fun stuff. I am not trying to get rid of him AT ALL. This visitation agreement was what HE and BM put in place LONG before I was part of the picture, so CHILL. In fact, he sees his son more NOW than he did before the divorce because then he took for granted that they lived with him and he just worked 70+ hours a week without giving it second thought.

I am NOT limiting it. BUT... because the BM is crazy, I am NOT babysitting. I also don't think that he needs to scramble to FIND a babysitter when he CAN'T take his son. Which... again is about 2-3 time per year. It just so happens that at the end of January this is going to be the case. I am sick of him feeling like he needs to ask BM "permission" to not pick him up when he is really in a bind like this.

That is ALL.

StepDoormat's picture

Nahhh... I do like my SS - but I have maintained really clear boundaries in terms of childcare. These are HIS kids from another marriage. All the BM has done is cause me grief. I am not going to become a glorified babysitter to help him keep his previous life in check. He's gotta make arrangements - whatever those may be. I enjoy spending time with them together... but I'm not his mom, which BM makes clear every chance she gets.

StepDoormat's picture

Yes... he always has talked to his son on the phone when this is the case... and usually makes plans to take him out to dinner later in the week, if he can swing it. When he was married to BM he saw his kids even less. At least now, he tries to rearrange his schedule to be off EOW. Honestly though, it is a HUGE stretch to be off EOW where he works. He makes it happen, but a few times per year, he can't.

StepDoormat's picture

No... he doesn't WANT the kids with a babysitter. He wants them to stay home with his sisters and mom. He's afraid she will refuse when he runs into these binds and "force" him to take SS. I was trying to tell him that SOMETIMES (again about 2-3 times per year) he just can't help it... and he will have to call SS and let him know that he'll make it up to him some other day that week. My DH is a great dad... and he tries really hard with his kids. He pays almost $3k a month in CS and alimony. He rearranges his schedule until the point that his colleagues avoid him so he doesn't ask them to cover for him. The visitation agreement is hard for him to follow... but he DOES... to the detriment of his career sometimes.

TASHA1983's picture

NCP visitation is not mandatory it is a choice. NO ONE can make/force a father to see/take his child. PERIOD. I should know because my sons father chooses NOT to be involved in his sons life and there is NOTHING I can do about it, nor do I want to.
There may or may not be consequences for it, whether it be via the court system or BM bs but either way him seeing/taking his kid(s) and utilizing his visitation is HIS choice to do or not to do.
My BF has his kid EOWE from Sat-Sun and every Wedn. for 2 hours. If skid/bm cancel oh well, and if we have to cancel we give them ample warning unless of course BF gets sick or work issues but either way we give BM the most advance warning we can give her. I NEVER offer to babysit and NEVER will, not my kid not my problem. BF also agrees that his kid is his to see, take, spend time with etc. and if he can't do any of the above then he doesn't see/take skid. Problem solved! Smile

StepDoormat's picture

Thank you. That was the type of answer I was hoping for. My DH exercises his visitation EOW. Sometimes he can't and he feels like he will catch hell.... or get dragged back to court if he can't. He seems to operate like he is under BMs thumb sometimes with this stuff.

He doesn't EVER like to miss a scheduled visit because he misses his son... and because BM has already PASed the SDs... so she badmouths him if/when he ever does. AGAIN... its only been 2 or 3 times in the past year that this has even happened.

BSgoinon's picture

This post makes me sad.

That's said, he doesn't need to ask permission to do anything.

Latisem's picture

I've been on both sides of this. My sons father was MIA for two years. I needed him to step up to be a father. I had him 24/7 and he couldn't figure out something 4 times a month? I would make my plans for kid free time only to have to cancel or had 16 hr shifts fri, sat, and sun bc he was to be with his dad. I'd really question myself about being with a man that can't find 4 days a month to be a father to his own kids.
So what if he is a doctor. The only thing that tells me is he was educated enough to avoid having children if he didn't want to raise them.
My husband would love to have more time with his kids but BM won't allow it.
I'm not fond of my skids bc of the bs BM pulls.
You can give him time with his kids 4 days a month and he can make the time for four days a month. He can also pay a nanny to be there every other weekend.

StepDoormat's picture

Why would hiring a nanny give SS more "quality time" with his son? Trust me... I judge why he decided to have 3 kids with a stay-at-home lunatic myself on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is, my DH Skypes with his son 3 times or more per week and ONLY cancels a couple times per YEAR. In the event that he cancels, he almost ALWAYS tries to make it up. My question was simply whether she could drag him back to court for missing. He doesn't purposely try avoiding his son.

Orange County Ca's picture

I'm not going to read everything the others have said so this may be a repeat of the concensus. As far as I'm aware everything you said is true.

I've heard of visitation parents being held in contempt for not giving notice and I have heard of rare instances, maybe just one, of a custodial seeking a order forcing the visitation parent to take the children. I don't remember if the problem was a ruined vacation (etc) or was the custodial trying to make a visitation parent be a parent.

TASHA1983's picture

WOW! That is absurd! Only in America...

I agree that an NCP should give as much advanced notice as possible for not being able to take their kid(s) BUT to go to court to MAKE/FORCE a NCP to see/take their child is the epitomy of absurd! The ridiculous amounts of CS I see/hear these women get is bad enough let's FORCE a man to be a dad while we're at it! WOW...JUST WOW!!!