The Court wants specificity in its parenting agreements. You no longer see language that says parenting time will occur weekly at reasonable times. What is reasonable? No two people can agree, especially parents that are divorcing. So the courts have imposed new guidelines that require specificity in orders. You’ll now see language stating that the parenting time starts on Friday at 5:00 p.m. and ends on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. The drop off place is clearly detailed as well. “The pickup and drop off location is at the Walgreens on 5th and State Street.” No detail is too remote to add to the parenting order. Family lawyers are taught that the more specific you can make an order, the less fighting there will be, and the more likely you will be able to enforce the order. Non specific orders are hard to enforce.
But what about the couple who take the letter of the order too far? If both parties live close to the Walgreens, then it is a good idea to make that the drop off/pick up location. But what if both parties are at their son’s wrestling match, and intend to stay for the award banquet? And the exchange time falls right in-between the match and the award banquet? Is it ok to exchange the children after the wrestling match, right there at the event? Or do both parents have to drive a half hour to the Walgreens, exchange the children, and then drive back where they started from to go to the award banquet? It seems fairly simple to just exchange the children right there, but some parents cannot let go of the direct written order, and it starts bordering on being silly.
It is important to follow the court order. But it is also important to use your head a bit and try and get along with the other parent. Flexibility is going to be important, and without it, you and your ex are destined for a lifetime of misery. No one can be that exact all the time because life happens. There could be a snow storm, or your child may be late getting out of the wrestling match. It would be nice if you could call your ex and see if an agreement can be reached to change the pickup location, or if some extra time could be allocated. It is important that the flexibility goes both ways however. You cannot be the only person who is always buckling on the schedule, only to be met with rigidity from your ex. But if both parties could be flexible, could be reasonable, then you both will see how much easier you’ll get along with each other, as well as how much more pleasant your time is with your children.