Things happen with Parenting Time and sometimes, parents have to miss an hour or two here or there. So do they get to make it up?
If you forfeit Parenting Time, and you don’t have a right of first refusal built into your Divorce Agreement, you made your choice. You’re lucky if the other parent can take the kid, but they don’t have to provide you with makeup time.
But in every other circumstance, makeup time is essential. Some parents get very caught up with making up minute-by-minute of missed time with their children. It’s great that they want to be with their kids, no doubt! But when does it cross over into crazy, competitive or even vindictive?
There are cases where making up missed Parenting Time is relevant, and there are times when people purposefully deny Parenting Time to the other parent. Then, it’s a consequence for the parent withholding time from the other, and it’s imperative that they get to make it up.
Even when the kids are whining that they don’t want to go to the other parent – it’s important to make it happen. In fact, it’s the responsibility of the parent they DO want to see to get them to the other parent and coax them out of the car.
In the eyes of the court, Denying a Parent Parenting Time is a thing. And they don’t look kindly on the parents who do this.
The court says that if you deny a parent Parenting Time, it must be made up, and in fact, the other parent gets to choose when. The other parent does not have to agree – they actually have no say in the matter! – and the parent due the time only has to give notice of one week to the other parent.
If it’s a holiday or weekend makeup time, they have to give 28 days, and they have to do it within a year.
I’ve had clients who play games and hold it over their ex’s head, but if they don’t use it in a year, it’s gone. Even if it’s not your fault, you’ll suffer consequences if it goes to court.
So what can you do to get on an even keel?
Appeal for family therapy. Use your resources. Ask the court to support that and make it court-ordered. Get referrals.
Ultimately you want your kids to try to work on their relationship with the other parent, and that parent to work on their relationship with the kids. You don’t want kids avoiding things that are difficult. That’s not going to help them in life.
I’ve had so many parents say, “Well my kids are happier now that they’re avoiding going to another parent’s house.” Ok, well is that a good message? Sure, we’re all happy when we don’t have to deal with a problem. But that’s not how life works. Managing conflict, addressing your feelings and working through difficulties in relationships are important skills to develop!
If a kid is caught between their parents, it’s often easier to be in one home and feel settled. So parents: pay attention to your role in promoting this division!
When it comes to holidays and school breaks, there’s not makeup time. I sometimes write into a Parenting Agreement a no-three-weekends-in-a-row rule. That’s too much time to be away from one parent. What’s the solution? Two and two and fix the discrepancy.
One more thing. It’s not really makeup time, exactly. This is all about making sure one parent doesn’t get a massive stretch of time with the kids and deprive the other parent of their rightful time with their children.
I’ve heard some pretty crazy stories. A parent demands makeup time if their child has a sports event or activity during their Parenting Time. Nope!
A kid goes to sleepaway camp, and a parent demands to make up the time missed while they were away. Nope! Neither parent was with them then. Deal with it.
This is your kid’s life. Not yours to play with and mold. These are all examples of parents only looking at themselves, and not recognizing that their child has a right to their own interests, pursuits and growth.
Parenting Time is supposed to be about parents enjoying time with their children. Not parents gratified by having their children around. The child is the focus. Always.