What do you do when there is uncooperative parent custody issues going on? Do you fight hard or do you give up and give in to the demands of your contrarian ex?
One of my clients came to me extremely upset due to the uncooperative nature of her soon to be ex-husband.
"He takes every opportunity to make things difficult for me. He refuses to pick up the kids when I can't get them from work or brings them home two hours late from his weekend visitation! Since he refuses to sign the divorce decree there is nothing legally binding for him to keep his word. I am at a loss and don't know what to do!"
Do you have a situation like this? Perhaps your divorce papers have been signed and your ex is still being uncooperative regarding custody and visitation agreements.
Uncooperative parent custody issues usually means one thing: Your ex is very angry at you and he or she is letting you know it by their oppositional behavior. In my client's case, I saw this as a way for her husband(soon to be ex) to have some kind of interaction with her, a way to hang on. And when she responded with anger and a fight ensued he got what he was looking for, to have any kind of connection with her that he could possibly have.
If you respond in any way to this negative behavior then you are giving attention to it, thus providing them with an incentive to be difficult. So if your (ex)spouse try and change your behavior and hopefully they will eventually change theirs.
Stay Calm and State the Facts
Here are a few suggestions that may help:
1) If they change your mutually agreed-upon custody arrangements or refuse to be flexible if the need arises first describe their behavior in acalm but truthful way.
"Our arrangement is for you to bring the kids back at 5:00p.m. It is now 7:00p.m."
2) Stay calm and try to discuss just the facts in a peaceful manner. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in an argument even if you feel your blood boiling! Just state the facts and your expectations.
"You have brought them home late for the last three weeks. I expect you to bring them home at the time that we both agreed upon."
3) If the conversation starts heading south and you feel you are being pushed to a blow-up, cut off the conversation immediately.
"This conversation is becoming unproductive, perhaps we should talk at a later time."
The goal is to set up a pattern where you cut off communication(and the interaction) when fights are about to get nasty. By doing this, you will be letting your ex know that you will not engage with them in their uncooperative behaviors. Slowly, they will begin to realize that if they want any connection with you at all, it will be for the positive things they are doing and not the negative.
Some times working with a therapist to help improve communication can be beneficial dealing with uncooperative parents. Check out Psychology Today to find a therapist in your area.