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What can I do if my ex isn’t meeting their parenting time duties?

“Parenting time” describes the time each parent must spend with their child after marriage. Parents or the court decide these periods, prioritizing the child’s needs. However, the noncustodial parent might not stick to this schedule, causing emotional harm to the child and straining relationships.

If you’re dealing with a situation where the noncustodial parent isn’t living up to their parenting time duties, don’t worry. There are measures you can take to address this issue.

Keep a record of the missed parenting time

One of the first things you can do is to start tracking missed parenting times. This helps you note how often missed parenting times happen and any reasons the noncustodial parent gives. You may use tools like a calendar, journal or app to record the scheduled and missed times and any related communications. Preserving supporting evidence like this is valuable for legal or mediation purposes.

Attempt to understand their reasons

Another thing you can do is to gently reach out to your ex-spouse to understand why they’ve been missing scheduled parenting times. Maybe they have valid reasons why they are not meeting their obligations. But remember, you must keep conversations away from your child to avoid any further risks of trauma. The ultimate goal is to create the best environment for your child, which includes working out a schedule while shielding them from any potential heated arguments.

Other ways to hold them accountable

If communication with the noncustodial parent doesn’t work or is not possible, you may consider mediation, where a neutral party helps resolve parenting time issues, as well as counseling to manage emotional stress. Both can be found through local courts or family service agencies. However, not everyone responds to these methods positively.

Going to court

In such cases, you may file a court motion. This motion asks to enforce, modify or end the current parenting time order if the noncustodial parent hasn’t complied without good reason. After filling out forms for the court and sharing copies with the other parent, the court will notify you of a scheduled hearing where you can present arguments and evidence.

Parenting time is an integral part of your child’s life and well-being. If the noncustodial parent isn’t meeting their parenting time obligations in Massachusetts, you have several options to address this issue.