Hi Chump Lady,
Is it unreasonable of me to insist on meeting X at the midway point between our homes to drop off/pick up the kids? He moved to another city 20 miles away. He is making it sound as though I have a screw loose.
“X, I can drive the boys to exit so and so. We can meet you at the gas station right past the road salt silo. To drop off, you can bring them to the store located just off exit so and so on same highway. My cell phone number is the same, so please let me know when you are ready to pick up or drop off when you leave. Thank you, ChutesAndLadders”
“I don’t know what this nonsense is all about, but I will not be picking up or dropping off my children at stops along the highway. Your “proposal” does not meet any reasonable person’s definition of shared transportation. [Son] and I have tentative plans to get together today; if they are firmed, I will be meeting him at [son and my] home.”
The very last thing I want to do is drive way out of my way, through city traffic to his and his bimbo’s love shack, completely redone thanks to his recent inheritance and her own divorce settlement money to drop off my beloved boys when the whim to visit with them suits X. He has not followed the visitation stipulation once. Meanwhile, the kids and my home is falling apart due to 20 years of half-ass fixit jobs by X and because I was a dumbass who stayed home and worked out of our home to raise our children.
Thank you for your consideration, CL!
Evil me would like you to respond to him thusly:
“X, I’ll get back to you on that. Right now, I have tentative plans to drop them off at your house as you’ve requested. If those plans firm up, I’ll be in touch.”
And then, of course, don’t be in touch.
Give the douchebag a taste of his own medicine. Because the key word in this entire letter is “tentative.” He had “tentative” plans with your son. If they are “firmed,” he feels entitled to you to drop whatever you were planning (or not planning, really your job is to wait around for him with baited breath) and Do As He Ordered.
From what you report, he doesn’t exercise his court ordered visitation. He wants to see his kids when he feels like and have you drop them off at his door at his pleasure. Not. Gonna. Happen.
Just by way of reality check, I’ve been in this exact situation. I used to live in Pennsylvania and my son’s father lives in metro D.C. The half-way point was Gettysburg, Pa. Court ordered that I drive to an agreed upon stopping point (a coffee house) and do drop offs there. That happened exactly ONCE. Problem was my ex, like your ex, couldn’t keep to a schedule. Things were always in “flux.” Well, I was going to be goddamned if I spent hours waiting for him in Gettysburg, so I said, show up whenever, but you show up at my house. You can’t commit? You pick up and drop off over here.
And he exercised a little less than half of his visitation, and he did a lot of no shows or cancelations on me, but at least I wasn’t waiting hours from home for it.
So I suggest you do similar. I’m not sure what your court order says you must do, but failing a direct order from the court that says take kids to his house when He Feels Like It — I would issue an Emancipation Proclamation that says “This is your custodial time. It’s not “tentative” or optional — it’s court ordered. If you cannot abide by the order, I am under no obligation to be your taxi service.”
And then don’t be his taxi service. If he cannot commit, or wants to be Lucy Goosey about “firming up” his plans? He can drive to YOUR door. Period.
You need to DOCUMENT every instance where he deviates from the court order. You need to email him EVERY TIME it happens. “I’m sorry you were too busy cleaning gutters Saturday (or whatever the excuse was) to see Nathan. When are you planning on seeing him next?” Throw ball BACK in his court. Then when he does not respond — or responds tentatively, or pissoffedly — the court has a record of exactly how much he values his child and how reasonable you are being trying to accommodate his visits.
So when he invariably rattles that saber of taking you to court (and he will, oh these douchebags love to threaten) — you essentially say BRING IT. You’ve documented it. You’ve been reasonable. He is not exercising his court ordered custodial time. Period.
Your bigger issue CAL is that he still gets to you. Every time he says you are not being reasonable, there is a part of you that believes it. You’re so used to trying to please the Unpleaseable — it’s second nature to you. It’s gas lighting. It is completely UNREASONABLE of him to expect you to wait around for him to make up his mind or firm up his plans or WTFever. You have a life. He’s trying to control you, control your time, your ability to operate without his centrality. You need to shut that shit DOWN.
It may be time for another court order that spells this all out very explicitly. Talk to your lawyer. You need time lines in there about exactly when he must give you his schedule with the kids, and what happens if he does not. Mine has to give me 30 days notice before a visit. No 30 days? I’m under no obligation to allow a visit. Perhaps if a judge tells him to meet at a McDonald’s on some expressway he’ll see the “reason” in it then. In any case, you’d like to think you have the sort of partner you can work little shit like this out with — but you do not. So all you can do is document, document, document and get the most iron clad order you can get.
Upside? After a certain age (it varies by state), your child decides how much or how little visitation they want. I can’t imagine your kids are happy with the schlepping either.
Pay no attention to his caterwauling. It’s Very Unfair. He has his fuckbuddy and his inheritance and new house things. But he can’t have control of you. Too bad, so sad.