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Is my ex trying to make me contravene our orders?

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

There can be situations where you may feel your coparent is making it difficult for you to adhere to your consent/parenting orders.

Your orders may stipulate that you have a facetime call with the children twice a week at a designated time for a set period of minutes. Your coparent is to initiate the call so that the kids can talk to you but they let it ring twice then disconnect the call. You try to call back but they don’t answer. You try to call again 5 minutes later, then again but they don’t pick up and you miss out on speaking to your kids. You may resort to texting them asking what is going on, when are you going to get to speak to the kids, which escalates in tone. It goes unanswered or you receive an abrupt text advising you didn’t pick up so it’s your fault. You feel disappointed and annoyed you didn’t get to talk to the kids. Meanwhile, your coparent stands by their actions that they made an attempt to call you but you didn’t answer. Their proof would be that their phone records show they made the call at the designated time but no call time duration occurred.

On other occasions the time of the call has been impacted by the coparent taking the kids to a busy location. It may be hard to hear over the phone due to bad mobile phone reception or there are major distractions as the coparent took the kids to McDonalds for dinner, making it hard for the children to stay engaged on the call. The designated 30-minute phone call is fraught with constant disruption and eventually cut short as it was too difficult to maintain the children’s focus to sit and talk to you. You may find this very frustrating and a heated exchange may occur with the coparent that they should have had them in a quiet location at their home so you could get to speak to them without disruption. Your coparent feels they enabled the call to happen and whether you cut the call short due to disruptions is up to you.

Another situation may be that you are on your way to drop the children back at your coparents place by the designated time when your coparent rings to let you know that you need to bring your child’s soccer boots as they have soccer training that week. You decide to turn the car around to go home to collect them, but this makes you 15-20 minutes later than your designated drop off time in the orders.

These situations may be deliberate in order to contravene you in court to demonstrate you are not a reliable parent so that they can build a case to gain more parenting time. Conversely, it may be that they are trying to make it difficult as a tactic to frustrate you into becoming emotionally or verbally abusive to use your reaction against you to seek a violence order.

It is important to keep a record of these events in a journal in case you need to recall what happened on specific dates if you are contravened. Calm written communication via email outlining the problem and a possible future solution is an artefact that will demonstrate that you are attempting to resolve the situation. It is important to highlight how your solution will benefit the children. For instance, in the situations above you could outline that the children couldn’t hear you on the phone as the phone reception was bad or they were pulled between talking to you versus playing with the other children in the McDonalds playground. The children have designated times to talk with you which needs to be in a quiet location, so they talk freely and in a calm environment.

As for the soccer boot incident, you may decide to advise your coparent at that moment that you are already on your way to drop the kids off so you will drop the soccer boots over on another day before the training. Otherwise, if the training is the next day, you need to advise your coparent if you go back and get them then you will be late in dropping the children off. Follow up with a text or email outlining that to ensure that your child had their soccer boots for training as requested by coparent whilst you were in transit to drop off the children, you needed to turn the car around and return home to collect them so as not to impact your child being able to attend soccer training the next day.

It is important to ensure that you are seen to be a problem solver and communicate calmly to offer up suggestions to avoid chaos and conflict.

If you feel your coparent is not responsive to resolving issues, then you could suggest to your coparent that it would be beneficial for you both to engage a Parenting Coordinator to help you implement the orders to avoid contraventions to avoid going to court. By having a monthly meeting with a Parenting Coordinator who is a neutral party helps to resolve day to day issues, improve communication and gain an understanding of the impact on the children.

If your coparent is not supportive of engaging a Parenting Coordinator as they feel they are adhering to the orders so they feel there isn’t a problem, then you may want to engage a Conflict Coparenting Divorce Coach to work with you individually to help you through the challenges with techniques and strategies to resolve the issues, improve communication and maintain a calm composure.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce & Conflict Coach, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, NMAS Mediator & Parenting Coordinator

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