Keep tabs on cancellations; they may provide powerful ammunition in custody court
Are your children often dejected and dismayed because the other parent continuously misses scheduled visitations? Are you dealing with an absentee father or a missing mother? If your situation involves a parent who gets a joint custody or visitation order and then ignores his or her own rights, then you need to maintain very careful and detailed records.
If a parent legitimately needs to cancel custody or visitation time with the child because of a scheduling conflict or an emergency, you should acknowledge the cancellation gracefully. But even if the cancellation is justified by legitimate circumstances, keep a detailed record of the date and time of cancellation and the communications between the parents. By chronicling the cancellations, you may be gathering powerful ammunition for a future custody or visitation dispute in family court.
For example, consider a visiting father who files a petition in court for an increase in his parenting time. He argues – among other things – that the mother obstructs his access to the children and rejects his requests for additional time with them. The mother, by contrast, has been maintaining good records of the father’s cancelled visits. She argues to the judge: “Your honor, you awarded him plenty of parenting time the last time we were in court, and he has cancelled 13 times in the last six months. As I can document from my weekly calendar entries, most of the cancellations were made only one hour before the visit was scheduled to begin, leaving our son quite upset and confused.”
Testimony such as this can be very powerful, and can rip a hole in the non-custodial parent’s request for additional time with the children. So, while it makes sense to acknowledge and accept the occasional cancellation, every such cancellation should be noted, with details, and should be maintained on a calendar or record book for possible use in a future custody proceeding.