I want to talk with you about trading parenting time with the other parents especially when it comes to special occasions. This issue comes up quite a bit in my practice and you know I thought it was worth making a video about. So several years ago I had a client who had a little girl and it was his weekend with his daughter. They had plans to go to the zoo and kind of at the last minute the other parent (mom) asked my client if he would trade weekends with her.
The reason that mom wanted weekends wanted on what would not normally be her weekend, is because her oldest son was coming home from the military after having been discharged for a few years. So the son who was coming home was my clients daughters half sibling and my client was annoyed, one because mom is asking at the last minute but two because it was his weekend and he had plans. So my client said no and what the other party did is she got her attorney and they filed a motion in front of the court.
The judge heard it on an expedited basis and basically read my client the riot act. What the judge told my client there are some situations where it just should be a no-brainer. When a child hasn't seen his or her half sibling for many years and that person is coming home from the military should be a no-brainer, an automatic yes. So that's what ended up happening against my clients will. I've seen other situations come up similar to that over the years of practice. At least a couple times a year it comes up so I just want to give you some illustrations of situations where I think it should be a no-brainer as far as whether you should swap with the other parent.
If the other parent has to go to and they're not going to be available to exercise their parenting time, that should be a no-brainer and the answer should be yes if the other parent has a funeral that they want to take the child to. The funeral is for a close friend or family member that's important to the child then the answer should be an automatic yes I'll swap with you. If the other parents requesting to switch parenting time say because an older sibling or even the parent or you know a step parent is graduating from college or graduate school or high school or grade school. Obviously that wouldn't be the step parent ,but if there's a graduation ceremony happening that's important and the other parent wants to swap, it should be an automatic yes.
If there's a special celebration an important birthday party somebody's reaching a milestone year, there's a milestone anniversary party and the other parent wants to swap that should be an automatic yes. Those are no-brainers in my opinion. I understand there may be times when the other parent doesn't give you the heads-up that you would have liked.
There may be times when you do have plans to go to the zoo or go to a special festival and you're going have to evaluate whether what was asked from the other parent is really something that doesn't happen that often or is only happening once in a blue moon and that the child really would benefit from going to. You have to make the call and there are many judges who wouldn't even hear an issue like this because they feel like it's micromanaging your relationship with the other parent. The other parent may not have a remedy if you say “No I'm not trading. “
Remember this whether you have sole decision-making or sole custody or joint decision-making or joint custody. The game of parenting is a you scratch my back and I'll scratch your situation. If you don't do a favor for the other parent when they need it, chances are when you need something and I promise you will, they're probably going say no.