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Once your divorce was finalized, you probably heaved a huge sigh of relief - while you still have to deal with your ex as you manage your children together, you no longer live under the same roof and deal with your ex’s obnoxious mood swings or annoying habits. Yet you may be surprised by how much time you spend thinking about your ex - if only to make sure that your children are safe in their company.
For many divorcees, particularly women, the choices their ex makes following a divorce seem clearly not to be in the best interests of the children. Whether it is new partners who regularly come and go or your ex’s “friends” who sit on the couch and smoke marijuana all weekend, you may be wondering whether you can intervene on your kids’ behalf. Here are three things you can do if you are worried about your children’s safety during visitation or parenting time with your ex.
While you may find your ex’s decisions during parenting time to be irresponsible or even distasteful, that does not mean they put your children in danger. Doing drugs in front of the kids or inadvertently allowing the kids to access alcohol is a serious situation that requires legal action. Feeding the kids junk food and sleeping in all weekend is not. Without making the kids act as a go-between, make sure you really understand the situation before you take more drastic action.
While this option may be off the table for spouses who do not get along or who have a history of abuse, sometimes having a conversation with your ex is a great first step toward making necessary changes. You could share what your kids are saying about their time visiting your ex, especially if they are expressing hesitation about visiting. You could also show how your ex’s choices impact your parenting; for example, if the children are allowed to stay up late and play video games with your ex and his friends, it may make it impossible to get homework done over the weekend, leaving you with more work.
If your ex is truly endangering or neglecting your children, you need to take action right away. If laws are being broken - for example, if your young children are being left alone for hours at a time or if your ex is driving drunk with the kids in the car - do not be afraid to contact the police or file for an emergency Order of Protection that removes the children from your ex’s possession. An attorney can help you neutrally assess the situation and decide what action to take.
Depending on the behavior of your ex and their new partner, you may need to petition a court for full parental responsibilities and parenting time for your child. To learn more about whether this may be possible in your case, schedule a free consultation with the DuPage County child custody attorneys at Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. Contact us at 630-920-8855.