top of page

My ex has reduced my time with my child!

Time spent with your children after separation or divorce can be limited, so the time you get is so precious. You can’t wait to see your kids at your next scheduled time, when suddenly your ex decides the current arrangement isn’t working. They reduce your time or change the schedule days and times which no longer works for you.

It can be extremely stressful as you feel you have no say in the changes and worry that the children will think you have made the decision not to see them as much anymore.

You feel the panic rise as you think this may be a strategy by your coparent to ease you out of your children’s lives. You may not have a parenting plan in place and up to now a verbal agreement has been sufficient. Conversely, you may have a parenting plan in place that your ex once agreed upon and now are reneging on that agreement. You may even have consent orders that your ex is contravening which are legally binding.

Initially, you may feel angry, sad, and powerless, wanting to fight to see your children. Be mindful that launching into a fight can provide the ammunition to support your coparent reducing time. The key is to stay calm!

It is very important to listen to WHY they have said the child’s time with you is reducing.

Sometimes, we don’t listen to the reason and ONLY hear “the child isn’t going to see you as much” Then we react emotionally and fight to retain the current arrangement. The more we lash out, shout, blame or insult the other parent, the least likely they are to change their mind or just give validation their decision was warranted.

Step back and make sure you do self-care to calm down before working through your action plan. Your immediate reaction might be to engage a lawyer to fight your ex. This should be the last resort. To attempt to reach agreement together or with a family dispute resolution practitioner or divorce conflict coach will enable you to try to resolve the problem rather than escalate into conflict. It will also provide an auditable history of how you have attempted to resolve the situation prior to seeking legal action.

Reflect on why your coparent has reduced time with the child. What was the reason provided? There are a few common reasons they may have said -

“The child has started school now, so the current arrangement isn’t going to work”.

“The child has started doing a hobby on your day so they can’t be with you”.

Once you know the real problem, you have more opportunity to come up with a solution together. You may think the real problem is your time being reduced but that is the impact not the reason. The reason for the time to be reduced is what you should focus on.

If the child has started school, your ex may think it is a period of adjustment for the child, a new routine is needed so as not to affect their schooling, or the child is anxious about starting school, so the coparent wants to be with the child more to provide support. Pull out the key words – adjustment, routine, anxious, support.

If your child is going through an adjustment to starting school and needs time to settle into a new routine, they may need support to help reduce their anxiety about starting school. The solution may be the requirement for a temporary solution whilst they adjust which could then shift back to the old routine once the child is more settled. You may discuss with your coparent that you understand that the child may need time to adjust into a new routine and negotiate on how you can both support that with a temporary solution for a few weeks with the goal to returning to the original arrangement once your child is settled into school.

Instead of looking at the exact days/times you have the child, think of the overall number of hours you currently have the child and see how that might be able to be maintained in a different format. For example, if you had your child for a midweek overnight every second Wednesday night which is now deemed too disruptive due to schooling, you may agree that instead of current every second weekend Friday and saturday nights that you now do every Friday night and second Saturday night. This still maintains a 3 night overnight arrangement.

If the child has started a new hobby such as dancing on Saturday mornings which impacts your current parenting time. Your child is unavailable to come to your place. Your child would be disappointed if they weren’t allowed to go to dance classes with their friends.  The key words to focus on are unavailable, disappointed.

If your child loves dancing, the last thing you want to do is be the one that stops her doing what she loves as you would be seen as the parent who wouldn’t let her do dancing. Just because your child is unavailable on Saturday mornings for a couple of hours doesn’t mean that a solution cannot be established that enables you to be with her for the same amount of time.  

You could either be the parent that takes her to dancing and watches her enjoy her favourite pastime as she looks over to you to see if you are watching with a big smile on her face. Otherwise, you could pick her up after dancing and take her for time with you and add the extra couple of hours you missed out on as make up time. You could agree with your coparent that you both keep a register of make-up time to use in the future which could accrue for an extra day during the school holidays, or you may just extend the time after dancing by a couple of hours.

Ensure that you gain the support to help you come up with a solution rather than have conflict escalate and result in legal action. Reach out so you can both attend family dispute resolution mediation whereby you can explore the issues in more detail to uncover how as coparents what the intention of the change was and understand the impact. This will help both negotiate options and reach an agreement for a win/win solution for the whole family. If your coparent is not willing to attend mediation then you could have divorce conflict coaching for yourself to work on how to improve communication with your coparent, create solutions and de-escalate conflict. It only takes one person to change how they react to change the dynamic of conflict.

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

152 views0 comments


bottom of page