Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Are you having problems with your ex regarding these issues?

When you decided to file for divorce in a California court, you understood that your decision meant that life for you and your children would never be the same. You were quite hopeful, however, that you would be able to move on to a new lifestyle that would still include healthy living routines, family customs and all the things you consider important for your kids.

If your main problem since finalizing a divorce is one your ex is causing, there are several things you may be able to do to rectify your situation. If the problem is really just that you and your co-parent can't stand each other, then you might just need to get creative in how you interact to avoid contention. If, on the other hand, your ex is impeding your parent/child relationship or trying to undermine your parental rights, that may be a more serious problem.

Lack of cooperation versus disobeying a court order

Children fare best if they witness their parents' willingness to compromise and cooperate for their sake after divorce. There is a difference, however, between dealing with an ex who grates on your nerves and refuses to bend when it comes to minor, non-essential issues, and one who refuses to adhere to the terms of an existing court order. You can't control your ex, but you can definitely control your reaction to his or her actions.

Is consistency the issue, or something else?

It's understandable that you want to maintain a sense of normalcy in your children's lives after your divorce, so it can be quite frustrating if the rules at their co-parent's house are a lot different from your rules at home. This is why it is critical to make sure your co-parenting agreement contains specific writing to address any and all issues you feel must be set in stone. If something is happening at your ex's house that you believe is detrimental to your kids, you can bring it to the court's immediate attention.

Protecting your rights

If you call your former spouse to discuss a problematic issue and your efforts are not successful, you must decide whether the issue at hand is merely personal preference, or is violating your rights as a parent or somehow placing your children in harm's way. The court always has the children's best interests in mind and will act accordingly to protect them. If you're unsure what your rights are in a particular situation, you can discuss the matter with someone well versed in family law. 

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