Childhood taunts seem to be in the air these days. “I know you are but what am I?” “I’m rubber and you’re glue; your words bounce off me and stick to you.” If you find your ex-wife stooping to the level of a schoolyard bully in dealing with parenting time, try these four solutions.
It’s Not “Just a Threat”
In a divorce or when working out parenting time schedules, no threat from the opposing party (the mother of your children or your ex-wife) is an idle threat. If she says (by which we mean any expression, including texts, emails, snail mails, or writes it in lipstick on the rear window of your ’72 Gremlin) she is not going to give back your children after her parenting time, take the threat seriously.
The police are not necessarily your knights in shining armor on this, and if you are looking for quick justice, we are going to disappoint you. Don’t expect squad cars to come screeching up your ex-wife’s driveway, or a SWAT team to deploy from a Bell-Huey UH-1 Iroquis over her house (though, honestly, that would be so freakin’ cool to see).
No, you need to take her threat and your court-approved visitation schedule to your local police station to report her threat. She is openly defying a Virginia judge’s ruling, and that compels the police to act.
Maybe they won’t act tonight, or now, or with guns drawn.
But they will have you fill out some paperwork and, possibly, send a cruiser around to your ex-wife’s house to have a word and remove the children. This process can feel like a wait into the infinity of time; meanwhile, your children are essentially held as her prisoners.
Don’t Negotiate – Call Your Attorney
Without resorting to Yo’ Momma jokes, you can try to reason with your ex-wife or the mother of your kids. Find out why she is trying to hold the kids, threatening to do it, or has done it. If necessary, go through your attorney to alert her attorney as to what she is doing. She may not understand the seriousness of her actions, but her attorney will.
Threatening to keep the children past her parenting time is a common ploy. She may be building a case in which she tries to turn you in to Virginia’s Child Protective Services (CPS) as an unfit parent. She may claim she is holding the children to prevent them from being harmed by you.
Do not panic. CPS is accustomed to getting false reports from slightly enraged or erratic parents, hoping to get the other parent in trouble. Your best recourse is to document, document, document everything, so you come across as the reasonable, in-control parent and she comes across as, well, “Yo mama so crazy, whenever she goes running she takes the psycho-path.”
File a Show Cause
A second avenue available to you is to have your divorce or child custody attorney file a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause. Here you are asking the court (alerting them as a concerned citizen) to force your ex-wife or the mother of your children to explain her contempt of the visitation order.
Sure, you are “snitching” on her for violating the visitation decree, but that is precisely the point. If you, the injured party, did not speak up, who would stand up for your children?
This course of action should be considered when she has repeatedly altered, ignored, or defied the visitation schedule. If you do ask your attorney to file a petition, be sure your attorney knows to request that the court make her pay all court and attorney fees you incurred by compelling her to do what’s right.
If you want to get in your ex-wife’s face and help her to gain real legal clarity, you can inform her you will press charges for parental kidnapping. Under Code of Virginia, § 18.2-47, this is a Class 1 misdemeanor, or a Class 6 felony in some instances:
If an offense under subsection A is committed by the parent of the person abducted and punishable as contempt of court in any proceeding then pending, the offense shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor in addition to being punishable as contempt of court.
Always start with the calmest, simplest solution when she threatens to withhold your children. Only escalate if she persists in her threat, carries it out, or repeatedly disrupts the court-ordered visitation schedule.
The Firm For Men is here for Virginia’s men. We defend your rights, protect your financial stability, and secure the special bond you have with your children. Contact us online or telephone our offices at 757-383-9184 to speak with an attorney today.