Hoo-boy, the schedule, eh?
This is one of the trickiest aspects for those going through a separation or divorce. Making a schedule is tough enough, but adhering to one is just a bridge too far for some people. Sometimes you can have a schedule on paper but not agree what it means in real life, and that is where the rubber hit the road.
Separation or divorce can be hard on children and the last thing they need is to see their parents in a screaming match on their schoolgrounds regarding whose day it is to pick them up. I can assure you that laying on the hood of the car while the other parent tries to get away with the kids is not the ideal way to negotiate whose holiday weekend it is.
Is there anything about a parenting time argument that says Happy Birthday to your child? Some children come to dread Christmas and their birthday because of toxic parenting. While it may be super-painful for you to not be spending Christmas morning with your children, do you really want them to grow up with post-traumatic stress because of the annual holiday hostilities?
I kid you not that I had a client who called me while on the way to their almost-former spouse’s new home to pick up their child knowing the pick up was going to be an issue. I told them not to bang on the door, which they of course immediately did. I super told them not to enter the house, which they proceeded to do. The next call I got from the client was an hour later from the police station, dumbfounded as to why they were being detained.
Calling the police to ensure the transfer of care is likely not going to improve the situation. The police may try to negotiate with your ex and you, but unless you have a specific police enforced court order, they are not going to force a transfer of care, particularly if a child is unwilling to go, which is often the case once the conflict has gotten out of hand.
My best advice is to have a schedule that works for the children set out in a Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan, and then to use the plan as a guide. Look ahead every few months and see if there are holidays, birthdays or PD days to accommodate. Confirm the special occasions in writing (by email or on a google calendar, for example). Be flexible and try to put the kids’ needs above your own. If the other parent wants to take the children to visit his great-aunt Helen who is suddenly visiting for an afternoon, try to accommodate. Remember, it will cut both ways and you too may need a favour from your former partner or spouse during your allotted time with the children, so it is best to have some kindness and goodwill in the bank for when that time will no doubt come.