(The state of jurisdiction is Nevada; we live in California, the mother lives in Nevada). We have won full physical custody of my partner's two boys (6 and 7). We won the appeal with the Supreme Court as well. The court order allocates a significant amount of time for the kids’ mother to spend with the kids, however also indicates that she can have additional visitation with the agreement of both parties if it is arranged 7 days in advance. She used to arrange visitation with us, as required by the court order, where she would show up at the kids' school and would volunteer and then afterwards spend time with the kids. We would facilitate/offer all the visitation/volunteering. We still regularly offer to organize visitation, but she ignores any offers that we make and instead makes arrangements on her own. Over the last several months, she has started just arranging visitation/volunteering with the teachers directly rather than going through us and not asking us for permission/agreement sometimes with little warning. It is becoming creepy and frustrating!
She occasionally also announces that she is showing up to the kids' soccer games and demands visitation afterwards. If we say no, she then says that she will show up and the kids will feel "bad" if we don’t let them spend time with their mother. So she was essentially blackmailing us, until we just stopped going to soccer games, in order to avoid such situations.
As one may expect, the random, disorganized visitation is negatively impacting the kids’ behavior at school, causing emotional disturbances in the kids, and creating general social havoc as well. In short, it’s been nothing but damaging to the kids and distracting for the professionals rather than pleasant, drama free, productive, and fun for the kids as it should be.
My questions are as follows:
1. What can we do, if anything, to stop her creating her own visitation on her own accord? Is she allowed to do this? She argues that the soccer field and the school are in public places so she can do whatever she wants. But there is visitation in place for a reason. Just because we are at the park, or at the mall, or wherever else, doesn't make it okay for her to come out and do her thing, right?
2. She also argues that the court order stated visitation and that volunteering at the school is not visitation therefore she has no rules/guidelines around volunteering at the school. We feel school volunteering is visitation and should follow the same rules. Is volunteering in the boys’ classrooms’ considered “visitation”?
3. Is the school then liable for allowing her to come in and volunteer when they know that she was not authorized to visit? What can we do from that standpoint?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Some things are pretty obvious, some a bit obscured.
If Nevada still has Exclusive Modification Jurisdiction, because the decree was here and a party remains, then anything formal will have to be done here.
The most important thing would be EXACTLY what the existing orders state -- both the family court and NV Supreme Court paperwork. That creates the rules within which your matter is handled.
First step, of course, would be to negotiate rules of behavior that everyone can live with. If that fails, then consult with a family law specialist -- after that person reads all the relevant orders -- and yes, of course the court can modify visitation terms. Before you get to that step, however, a question would be are you REALLY sure that a third party (i.e., a judge) would find whatever contacts are occurring harmful? If so, public or otherwise, they can be restricted (that is why we have stalking and harassment laws). If not -- if you think there is some possibility that a judge would find that you are over-reacting and yourself causing the problem, you might want to respond in some other way.
It is sad to terminate child sports and activities because the grown-ups involved are not, well, grown up, so I do advise a consultation with an appropriate specialist, and taking whatever actions are required to deal with the situation, so that the kids are allowed to be kids.