Child custody battles are an unfortunate fact of many divorces. You may never want to see your ex again. But with kids, that’s not usually an option. In most cases, parents share the power to make decisions when it comes to raising their children. This is often complex in the best of times, but what about when a step-parent enters the picture and muddies the water?
Rick Jones, our founding partner, makes regular appearances on KZOK 102.5 FM on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show. He answers caller questions about divorce, child custody, and other family law matters. One caller is having trouble seeing eye-to-eye with her ex and his new wife when it comes to raising their child and over who has decision making power. Does she have any options?
Here’s how the call went:
Kim – “I’ve had shared parenting for quite awhile, and from the get-go, the dad and stepmom have always changed the parenting. I’m supposed to deal directly with the dad, and he always makes me deal with her and talk straight with the stepmom, and we don’t see eye to eye. I remind him all the time that the parenting is between me and dad, but he’s kind of vacant and lets her do all the parenting, which ends up in a lot of arguments between us. Is there something I can do about that?”
Rick – “Probably not in a legal fashion.”
Danny – “REALLY?”
Rick – “I assume there’s nothing in the parenting plan that talks about specifically about communication methods and directs it to the father does it?”
Kim – “It does.”
Rick – “It does? So it sounds like this was a problem you perceived even before you finalized your divorce, right?”
Kim – “Correct.”
Rick – “What you can do, especially if you’ve got some examples, some smoking guns, maybe some nasty emails from her or something like that.
You can go back to the court and seek what’s called a motion to enforce. basically saying: ‘Hey, the parenting plan says to do this, he’s not doing this, court please order him to do this.‘ That’s your real angle. Unfortunately, when it comes to things like this, especially in the absence of specific language, this is one of the things that becomes a problem in split households.”
Danny – “I will tell you this Kim, I feel your pain. When I moved out of my, what is now my ex-wife’s house, I don’t know how to…I’m a drunk recovering drug addict has been. I don’t know how she moved DOWNHILL, but she DID, to this horrible guy! So I straightened up and became the good catch, and I thought, I am not dealing with this guy once about my kids, and luckily it never came to that. So I just want to say, Kim, I feel your pain.”
What is a “Motion to Enforce”?
Motion to Enforce and/or for an Order to Show Cause Regarding Contempt: This kind of motion asks the judge to enforce the order and to hold the other party in contempt for not following the court’s order.
If you have questions about divorce or child custody, contact Goldberg Jones at our Seattle office.