Denial of Parenting Time and “Override Option” in Tennessee Parenting Plans
Denial of Parenting Time and an “Override Option” in Tennessee Parenting Plans – Part 5
What if the primary parent says no to a particular parenting time? The parenting plan may state that the parties need to go to mediation before going to court. Before anyone resorts to mediation or the courts, it is important to consider whether the denial of parenting time is reasonable — for example, if there is a sick child, or if there is a special event happening during the scheduled parenting time. Whether it’s reasonable or unreasonable, it can be argued that this parenting time can be made up at a later date. Defining what is reasonable is often a difficult task. A parent should only deny parenting time for a valid reason. Denying parenting time because of spite or because “you don’t feel like it” isn’t going to fly with your ex-spouse or the courts. Make sure you honor your parenting plan unless something unforeseen or special comes up. If you’re the non-primary parent and the withholding of parenting time was unreasonable, you may want to talk to your lawyer about the possibility of bringing the case back to court for a change in the designation of primary residential parent.
It’s especially important in long-distance parenting plans to keep in mind that there should be time that is not specifically set-aside for visiting but that it is open-ended. That allows a parent to “drop in” to see the children upon a few days’ notice, or a week’s notice, if possible. Sometimes the non-primary parent will be in the area and will want to see the children at their soccer game or karate class. There may be the need to have an “override option” — that is, affording mom very little notice when dad phones a few hours ahead to say he’s in the area. Parents should look at the parenting plan as a whole. It is meant to help guide the primary parent when relocating with the children, and it’s also meant to be fair to the non-primary parent while safeguarding the children’s best interests. Since this is the intended goal, along with telling everyone where they need to be at any given time and how they need to act, the “override option” should generally be expected in relocation cases and should be limited to a no more than 4 or 6 times per year. Flexibility and compromise are key components of these plans. Relocation cases are in a class of their own and require more give-and-take than most other types of agreements.
The primary parent should not withhold visitation with the children at their soccer games or other events just because there was little notice. This will work both ways — if the primary parent wishes to see the children at an event while they are with dad, they may find that there isn’t much time for notice. The best practice is for each parent to allow the visitation, even at the last moment if at all possible. Each parent should be able to spend some time with the children even if it’s at the other parent’s location, so long as it is not being used in a spiteful way or being used constantly. Perhaps limiting this to a few times a year for each parent is in the children’s best interests and in the interest of stability.
Additional Parts of Tennessee Long-Distance Parenting Plans: A Roadmap for Relocation:
- Smart Travel Plans for Parents’ Long Distance Visitation
- Resolving Children’s Travel Issues Before They Become Problematic
- Figuring out How Much Parenting Time is Feasible for Your Family
- Make-Up Parenting Time and Flexibility
- Denial of Parenting Time and an “Override Option”
- Including Time of Day for Travel and What to do in the Event of a Delay
- Scheduling Conflicts, Communication with Children and Special Needs