Q I am in the middle of a nasty custody fight. At the moment my Wife and I have temporary shared parenting of our children transitions happen when they get off the school bus. On Thursday when the snow storm hit, they were supposed to go to her after school. There was no school. I offered to bring them to her at 8 AM when they would otherwise leave my house for school. Driving across town then would have been fine.
My wife works from home so she declined because she could not work with three kids under foot. I assumed that was the end of the discussion and they would be with me until they went to school on Friday. Not so. She began calling and texting at 3:15 demanding that I drop the children off to her at 3:30 when they would normally get off the bus.
On a good day it takes me 20 minutes to get across town to her house. There was no way I was going to do it in a blizzard. So I refused. She somehow got her lawyer to send my lawyer a nasty email threatening contempt if I didn’t drive the children to her that afternoon. Needless to say, I didn’t budge.
Should I be worried?
A You should be worried, but not about a judge finding you in contempt. Last Thursday the first major snow storm of the season hit Massachusetts forcing the closure of essentially all schools. The fact that your wife wanted you to drive your children during the peak of blizzard like conditions speaks volumes about her intentions here. The Governor asked all people to stay off the roads if at all possible. By asking you to drive the children across town to her, she asked you to put yourself and your children in harms way. Not cool.
Your take away here is that she will not negotiate in your children’s best interests. The goal here is to make you pay for whatever perceived wrongs you committed – even if that means using the children as a means to that end. Negotiating your divorce is going to be an uphill for you. Your children will suffer the consequences so you need to be ready. Make sure they have someone to talk to whether it be a school social worker or an outside therapist.
If you are lucky enough to reach a full resolution of your divorce outside of court – make sure there is very tight language about just who is in charge in the event of unforeseen school closures or if a child becomes ill at school. Not every case needs these provisions but yours surely will.
As for the threat of legal action here, if she presses forward and brings you to court on a contempt, you should welcome that appearance as the judge will get to see her true colors shining brightly – something that ought to help you in the long run.