It sounds like it’s time to get your best negotiation and diplomacy skills in order. Just because the marriage is over, it’s important to remember that raising the children isn’t. Here are some suggestions:
If your ex is inflexible, try writing kind and thoughtfully-worded letters that reflect your requests. A dialogue on the subject may spark an altercation. Respectful correspondence is a great start — assertive is fine; aggressive is not.
If you do contact your spouse regarding any schedule changes by phone or discuss the request in person, be polite and courteous at all times, especially if he or she isn’t. This approach could play a major factor in getting you what you want.
- Calendar Credits
If letters and calm conversations don’t do the job, try a bartering system. Some type of “trade-you-this-for-that” is very effective. Issue your ex a ‘credit’ (put it in writing), for the time slot he or she is changing for you in exchange for a time he or she may want from you in the future. Let your ex ‘bank’ these credits and cash them in. Most importantly, practice what you preach. Be flexible when asked to redeem these credits. This approach helps the parent who makes the sacrifice feel as though he or she is getting something in return–and getting it right away. With credits in the ‘bank,’ your extends to feel a sense of power. If you’re using a barter system, be certain you honor your ‘credit.’ Also, don’t ask to trade too often. Abusing the process will only create tension.
- Legal Intervention
Your last resort is to contact your divorce attorney. Only do so if it seems there is an extended period of time in which your ex won’t make any reasonable schedule changes. Using a lawyer can become stressful and costly and land you in court. Best to exhaust the other options instead if you can.
Stacy D. Phillips is a Certified Family Law Specialist and a founding partner of Phillips, Lerner, Lauzon & Jamra, a Los Angeles family law firm. She specializes in a diversity of complex, high-asset marital and paternity cases.