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Drop/off Pick/Up During COVID-19

brittnydee's picture

Hello! My SO and his ex have 50/50 physical custody but she has full legal. The order states that pick/up drop/off occur at school or at a pre-agreed upon location. With the schools closed and the need to avoid public spaces we have been doing pick/up drop/off at her place while we were still working locally.

Now we are working remote and have no need to go into her area. She is refusing to travel to our home stating that we made the choice to move out of the county (30 min away from her) and its too far for her to travel. She is stating she has made the "legal" decision that all swaps happen at her house for her and the child's safety (he is already exposed to both homes and she is exposed through him).

What can we do to avoid having to bend to her will, without risking the cops/court becoming involved?

Pinellasmom's picture

I guess you could insist she drive kid to the school and you pick up there.  How far is the school from her house?   Yeah, I think if you moved, it is on you. 

brittnydee's picture

The school is one block from her house. She walks there. It's a valid point, but basically giving her the win while possibly breaking the stay home order in effect for COVID-19.

tog redux's picture

The custody exchange is probably considered essential travel. I don't know of any states that have said it isn't, but I haven't researched it. Some states have explicitly said that it IS essential travel. 

lieutenant_dad's picture

Well, her "full legal" doesn't give her the right to choose where drop-off is since it's supposed to be agreed-upon. However, I'm not sure I'd argue with her over this right now. If she's willing to throw the "full legal" card, any pushback and she may try to make the "full legal" decision to withhold visitation (which she can't legally do, but would require you all to involve cops).

You can either give in to her OR do pick-up at each house. Your DH goes and gets his kid from BM for his custody time, and then BM comes to his place to get SD for her custody time. Puts the responsibility on the parent who is taking custody to show up. Hopefully BM isn't stupid enough to try and withhold SD when your DH shows up.

lieutenant_dad's picture

In theory, I agree. But as someone who purposefully lives 30 minutes away due to BM shenanigans (e.g. randomly leaving the kids with people for an indeterminate amount of time without anything, her BFs showing up to cause trouble, literally crying and begging for money the front door), I can understand why folks would not live closeby. Additionally, especially if you're a CS-paying parent, you're going to live where it makes the most sense for your job so that you don't end up with legal troubles.

It's 30 minutes, not 2 hours. And it would be once a week for BM. That's not unreasonable. Heck, around here, you can live 30 minutes away from one another and be in the same school district. It's not that far.

tog redux's picture

If these BMs were reasonable, none of us would be here. This would not be a hill to die on for me. 

lieutenant_dad's picture


lieutenant_dad's picture

If it were me, I'd do pick up and drop off just to shut BM up for right now. But I would also be reaching out to an attorney to rework the CO to not have it be "agreed upon" any longer. They need a set location when it's not school, or they need to follow the pick-up rule instead. BM may have just shot herself in the foot by being this way.

brittnydee's picture

Yeah she did. We are definitely pursuing the wording in the court order now. She is in contempt of it already and we are going to prevent this from happening again.

tog redux's picture

Honestly, she'd probably win this one in court because you moved away. Why should she be the one who has to drive 30 minutes?

brittnydee's picture

Physically custody dictates that the parent can decide where the child lives, within reason. If we moved two hours away or out of state, then yes you have a point. But we moved an extra 10 minutes away AND we offered to meet her halfway.

tog redux's picture

I still think you would likely lose. Why should she have to drive further because you moved or because of the state of emergency than she did before? A 30 minute drive is not a hill to die on, when you were doing it before to get him from school. 

brittnydee's picture

Its not neccesarily the drive that is the problem. Its her entitled attitue.

Why should she not have to do swaps simply because of the order? She did not move you are right, but per the court order she is in violation of the custody agreement by refusing this. We did not "agree" to this location for swaps and the school is not a valid option per her own reasoning. Her using her "legal" custody as her reasoning does not make her not in contempt. But we have a history of the courts siding with the mother and we are worried to react. 

tog redux's picture

Fair enough - honestly, it's not worth a fight and it's sure not worth a court battle. Or it wouldn't be for me. 

advice.only2's picture

The problem is he did agree the first time he picked his child up at her house, from that point on he didn't do or say anything to communicate that he wanted it to be halfway.  So yes she has an issue with him doing it now, when he didn't before.

That aside, I do think it should be halfway for both parents and that should be rewritten into the CO at another time, not right now.   

brittnydee's picture

Its not about agreeing. We offered originally to be kind. That kindness was then abused and disrespected. The CO states the school or agreed upon location. We couldn't agree so the school was the default. She then no showed and wouldn't answer her phone.

justmakingthebest's picture

Throw the exact verbiage at her: "The order states that pick/up drop/off occur at school or at a pre-agreed upon location"

We do not agree to that location. We would agree to meeting 1/2 way at _____ (McDonalds or gas station parking lot). 

brittnydee's picture

We tried that, she claims that its her "legal" decision that they occur at her home only.

brittnydee's picture

You're probably right, and maybe it is immature. We're just sick of having to do everything her way just because she has the right bits. 

hereiam's picture

We offered to meet her halfway, she is claiming it is unsafe for him and her to be exposed.

What? If that is her real reason for not wanting to meet halfway, it's not even valid. Driving in the car does not expose you. You meet in a vacant parking lot, which there are now several of, and do the swap.

She's just being difficult because she feels she can. My DH's ex was like that, too. Thank God, we don't have to deal with her anymore.

Ursula's picture

I kind of feel like you guys are getting a bit too hung up on the principle of it all.  I understand the frustration that BM won't bend.  But honestly, is it even worth the fight if you would normally pick up at the school which is walking distance from her house? 

Idk, I wouldn't want to give BM the satisfaction of knowing that she had ruffled my feathers like that.

brittnydee's picture

Its two blocks... she can walk it. The point isn't the distance its that she is refusing to comply with the order. The order is in place for a reason. The judge even advised them (in writing in the final order) to avoid non public interaction as it has had a tendency in the past to become toxic and cause meltdowns for the SK. Even during the minute it takes for a swap. And due to the location of her apartment entrance, curbside is not an option (back alley entrance in a sketchy neighborhood).


We covered the first few swaps when this was only supposed to last a few weeks. At this point, with her behavior and the extended timetable, her house is not a healthy option for us or for SK.

simifan's picture

You can force the school, but really if its a block away what is the point? She's not being courteous but legally she doesn't have to drive to you. 

ndc's picture

It sounds like BM has never had to do pickups and dropoffs any material distance from her home.  The school is walking distance, and I'm going to assume camps are close to her as well.  So really, why should she travel for pickups and dropoffs now?  You're in no worse position that you'd be in if school was in session (and really, there's little difference between school and her house if it's a block away).  The difference is that you're working from home, and that's really not BM's problem.  

I'm not a BM (other than to my current DH's child, so no split custody), but I don't think she's being unreasonable and I think you'd lose in court.  It has nothing to do with her having full legal and everything to do with the court order.

It would be very nice if she would be cooperative in light of everything that's going on right now, but if she's not I'd just suck it up and do the pickups and dropoffs at her house.  Don't consider it a win for her, consider it following the court order.

brittnydee's picture

We tried to swap at the school per the custody order. She no showed and after an hour we gave in and brought him to her place. 

brittnydee's picture

We told BM we would meet at the school at the regular pick up time. We emailed her (per her own request). She never responded. She did not show. We waited 30 min, then texted her to check the email. She has accused us of harrasment for texting/calling about non-emergent issues before so we try to only email. No response... 20 more min and we call. She ignores it. We waited a total of one hour then the child started getting upset wondering where his mom was so we drove to her place. She did not come to the door, but he knew the code and it was clear she was inside. She has still not acknowledged it. Per the CO all drop off/pick ups occur at the school or an agreed upon location, we did not agree to her house so the school was the default. She straight up ignored us. How do we enforce the order if she won't even communicate?


As stated above this is 2 blocks from her house and per the stay home order the school lot is acceptable for custody transfers.

Winterglow's picture

I'd have been tempted to take the child back to my home after 15 minutes ... but only after taking timestamped photos to prove that you were at the agreed upon place at the agreed upon time. If she can't be bothered making an effort, why should you?

brittnydee's picture

We were very tempted to, even considered calling the cops to "check on her." But the court system has been biased in our experience and we were afraid if we tried that we would be the ones in contempt and get in trouble. Nothing is worth risking losing time with SK. 


That said we have google geo-tagged photos with timestamping on them showing where we were at what time and for how long. As well as the email, text and phone logs of trying to contact her.

Winterglow's picture

I don't see how you could be in contempt if you were at the appointed place and she wasn't. There is no pint in getting the police involved as they cannot force her to be there and she is not withholding the child. Her absence simply indicates that she decided to forfeit her visitation for that week. Take the photos and send her an email saying that as she didn't turn up that you understood she was forfeiting her week with her child and so you would take him back to the same place, same time (as per the CO) the next time her vistation came round. 

Rags's picture

If the SKid has the code to the BM's door, and she is the CP and she is home. Put the Skid's stuff on the door step and have the SKid open the door and go in.  Then wait for BM to come flying out foaming at the mouth.  Filming everything of course.  Once she opens the door and you have it documented that she is home... drive off.

And of course make sure your home is secure.

Or, since BM is refusing to take the kid, just keep the kid, file for emergency custody due to child abandonment and nail her ass for CS. 

Why let a good crisis go to waste?