What happens to a parent's visitation when a child is sick?

Filed under: Just For Moms, Just For Dads, Divorce & Custody, Activities: Babies

Do you think a child should have to go for visitation when he or she is sick? Children of divorced parents spend a lot of weekends in the home of their non-custodial parent, so what happens when they get sick or don't feel like going?

This was an issue that came up for me that actually caused the judge to get upset with me. My visitation order was the standard order that a lot of people have where my son spent every other weekend at his dad's house, from Friday when school was out until Sunday evening. I remember one particular week where my son had a virus and ran a high fever for several days. I had taken him to the doctor but it was one of those things like the flu where it just has to run its course. Kyle was barely able to get out of bed and go to the bathroom when he felt like vomiting, much less ride in a car.

I called Kyle's dad and told him that Kyle was very sick and that Kyle had been running a fever of about 102 for a few days. I asked him if he could postpone his visitation and possibly reschedule for the following weekend when Kyle was feeling better. He refused and we had a very heated argument in which I explained that Kyle was doing nothing but laying in bed or on the couch sleeping and vomiting. "Well, he can lay on my couch just as easily as he can lay on yours," he told me.

This was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard, and I told him so. I asked him to please be rational and think of his son and whether or not it was practical to make him ride in a car for an hour when he felt so horrible. He screamed at me that if I did not have Kyle ready to go at the designated time in the court order, he would take me to court for contempt and violation of the visitation order. I met him at the door and told him that Kyle was too sick to go and I was not going to force him to ride in the car when he couldn't even stand up without vomiting.

Any mother would think that a judge would be reasonable and get upset with a father who would behave this way, right? Wrong. I learned a lot about the law during these years. The judge told me that I had no right to tell Kyle's father when he could and could not see Kyle and if Kyle was sick, it was his father's place to decide if he wanted to exercise his visitation or not.

I was held in contempt of court, paid a fine and had to give my son's father additional visitation as makeup time for that weekend. I was also told that if I continued my behavior, the judge would put me in jail next time.

Telling this story still makes me angry, even though it happened over 5 years ago. Sometimes when I share some of these stories with you, I am shocked at how many problems could have been avoided with simple cooperation and logic. I learned a lot about the law during all of my "adventures," and amazingly, the law does not always seem logical. The moral of the story is: If you are a divorced parent living your life by a visitation or custody order, that piece of paper outweighs anything else, include logic and reason. Hopefully, you won't make the same mistakes I did.

Shouldn't parents work together to the best interest of their children and not because a piece of paper says it's their turn to see their child? How is that possible when one parent refuses to cooperate? What do you think?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.