HOW TO HANDLE AN UNCOOPERATIVE EX-SPOUSE
Copyright By Merlene Bishop
If you are a non-custodial parent with an ex-spouse who is uncooperative and unpredictable regarding visitation, you do have some choices other than going back to court. A first approach would be staying out of conflict by asking questions of your ex-spouse when he or she puts up obstacles to scheduled visits by the children. This can be done by asking a question after he or she gives an excuse about why the regular visit can't be done, assuming of course that the children are well and there are no family emergencies or car problems.
When you ask him or her a question about the situation, be polite and maintain a level tone of voice. After you ask the question, be silent to give the other person a chance to come up with their own answers. When the answer isn't sufficient, suggest a possible alternative to the situation. Sometimes this will work if they think you are open to compromise. Quite often he or she will come up with a solution if they feel that you are listening and they don't feel pressured.
If that doesn't work and he or she is being hostile, suggest a time to talk about it later that day or the next. The most important thing you can do in the situation is to avoid arguing. You may think that it is unfair that you are making most of the effort, but for the sake of your children it is best to avoid conflict.Children can sense when their divorced parents are in conflict and it is extremely hard on them. They want to love and be loyal to both of you, so when you two are tense and angry they feel confused and upset. They may even feel that the conflict had something to do with them.
Children are naturally self-centered, so when something is not right with their parents, they can feel that they did something wrong. If you have to postpone the visit, be sure you avoid saying anything negative about that to your children when you see them again. It is hard on their self esteem when parents say anything negative to them, so be positive about the other parent.
If you have to go longer than usual without seeing your children because of an uncooperative ex-spouse, find ways to stay in contact with them. Send cards telling them you miss them, or make phone calls. If your work schedule is flexible, you can also have lunch with them at school. Make it a point to go to special evening school activites when you can.
Consider going to their sports games; These are usually on Saturday, and children feel very proud to have parents there when they are doing their best at something that they enjoy. You don't have to sit near your ex-spouse. Bring your own chair and sit somewhere on the sidelines. Make it a point to talk to them during halftime, and be sure you are positive.
Your ex-spouse may be going through a stressful and difficult time that is causing them to be
uncooperative. If you make an effort to be patient and cooperative with him or her, things may go more smoothly in the future. Your children will benefit from your efforts in the long run.