Friday, 23 November 2012

My work schedule has changed and now I can’t see my children at the time stipulated in the parenting order. What do I do?

Unfortunately work schedules can often change and this may affect your ability to see your children. If you have a parenting order or agreement with specified times and dates for parenting time, when your employer changes your work schedule you will have to try to amend the parenting order or agreement. Ideally the other parent would understand that you have little or no control over your work schedule and would accommodate a change to the parenting order or agreement with little formality. 

It may be helpful for you to bring up the possibility of your work schedule changing at the time that you are creating your parenting order or agreement. It is wise to build in provision into your parenting agreement that allows for the schedule to change if your work schedule changes. For example, if you see your children 30% of the time you could change the dates in the order to accommodate your new work schedule and still see the children 30% of the time.  Essentially, you and the other parent may agree to have a term in the order or agreement that allows that you each have the same proportion of time with the children regardless of your work schedule changes.

Another option is to structure your parenting order or agreement without specified dates for each parent, but with a guideline of how much time each parent will have parenting time (with the children).  That way, if either parent's schedule changes, or other events arise, the order or agreement is already sufficiently flexible to accommodate those unforeseen changes.  This kind of an agreement is much more flexible, but requires both parents to have good communication and co-parenting skills.

It is important that both you and the other parent remember that you are working together as co-parents, for the best interests of your children, regardless of the fact that you are now separated or divorced.   It may require some cooperation and some extra effort on your part or the part of the other parent, but it is usually considered in law to be in the best interests of children to have as much parenting time as possible with each parent. With this in mind, when a parent’s work schedule is changed, the children should not lose out on their time with that parent. 

If the other parent is not accommodating or willing to change your parenting order, you may seek the assistance of a family mediator or a collaborative lawyer to help to create a peaceful resolution. Should you need to go to court for assistance, a change to your work schedule would be sufficient grounds for amending a parenting order.

For even more family law tips & information, listen to Lisa's Radio Program, “Family Law Answers for Real Life” on demand at:

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