After years of fighting, you were glad to get divorced. You still aren’t totally free of your ex-spouse, however, because you have minor children together. Nearly every day, it seems like you’re dealing with a barrage of phone calls and texts from your ex about the kids.
Your ex doesn’t like what you fed the kids for dinner during your parenting time. They say that the amount of “screen time” you give the kids is unhealthy. They want to dictate how you spend the child support money you receive. The issues never seem to stop.
Do you have to humor them and justify your actions? Do you have to cave to their demands?
Here’s how to figure out how much control your co-parent really has
Generally speaking, your parenting time is your parenting time. Your co-parent has no authority over how you run your household, with few exceptions. Here’s what to consider:
- Are you in violation of your parenting plan? Get it out. Read it over. Make sure that your parenting plan doesn’t include some forgotten detail about screen time or your child’s dietary needs. You only have to comply with your co-parent’s wishes if the parenting plan says so.
- Are you putting your child in danger? If your “house rules” somehow put your child in danger, that could be cause for a custody modification to make your co-parent the child’s primary caretaker — not you. For example, if you’re feeding your diabetic child cake for dinner, that could be a major issue if your co-parent takes it to court.
- Is there any good reason to negotiate? If you choose, you may consider giving in to their demands in exchange for something that you want in return. If you’re willing to restrict your child from extra game time in exchange for the right to take them to your parents’ house on Christmas Eve, it may be worth it.
They may not approve of dessert before the main dish, but they cannot stop you. They may not like the movies you let the kids watch, but that’s your call. You are not required to justify the use of your child support to them or how you spend your parenting time — nor should you.