You go to the school to pick up your daughter.
You do this every day, and you have for years.
Today, you drive in the parking lot and go to the pick-up areas.
Your daughter isn’t there at the pick-up point.
You know why.
Your ex has done this before.
He’s been on a powerplay over the last couple months, and picking up your daughter from school when it’s not his time is part of that powerplay.
Now, you have to call him and go pick up your daughter. It never goes well. There’s always a conflict because your ex always makes things harder than they need to be.
You’re not alone in this. It happens all the time.
But what can you do to keep it from happening again and again and again?
Here are a couple things we’ve found that are helpful.
Discuss the problem with your ex.
Unless there is history of domestic violence or a real safety concern, this is always where you should start.
During the conversations, don’t accuse. Just talk, ask why your ex is doing what he’s doing, and say that following the divorce decree is the best thing for everyone.
You’d be surprised how often a problem like this can resolve after a conversation or two.
Talk to the school about the problem.
Communication with the school about matters like this is crucial. Make an appointment to talk with the principal or vice-principal, and explain to him or her what is going on. Bring your divorce decree and point to your parent-time provisions. (It helps if you’re the primary parent, so make sure you point that out too.) Explain how disruptive this situation is to your daughter. Ask for help and a plan to ensure this won’t happen again.
This is usually the most effective and lowest cost option.
File an order to show cause with the court.
Sometimes, if your ex simply won’t stop, it’s necessary to file something with the court to make him stop.
An order to show cause is, essentially, a motion for contempt. You’re alleging that your ex is in contempt of the divorce decree because, by picking up your daughter when he’s not supposed to, he’s violating the decree and taking time away from you.
What I’ve found it filing an order to show cause usually solves the problem and the behavior stops.
That said, orders to show cause take time, can be stressful, and can be expensive if you hire an attorney.