Am I legally obligated to send my daughters for their visitation with their father if he keeps changing the schedule?

I am ordered to let my daughters fly to their dad’s house every summer 3 days after school is out. We have been doing this every year with no issues until he recently became angry about other matters. He did not fly the children out at the scheduled time but proposed a later date. I agreed to the later date, but then he said he wasn’t flying them out at all in a text message to them and I, then said he did know maybe he was. It is now less than 2 weeks from the designated date and he will not return texts or calls from me or his daughters. At this point am I still legally obligated to send them? This is disruptive to our whole house hold, we can make no summer plans, and frankly it has devastated my daughters thinking that their dad doesn’t want to see them. He has not followed the court order and keeps changing plans, am I prisoner to his last minute whims?

Asked on June 21, 2016 under Family Law, Washington

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are only legally obligated to do what the court has ordered you to do.  Nothing more.  If the final order provides a set date for the summer visits to begin and that date has passed because of his actions, then you are not legally obligated to send your children.
If you agreed to one date, because the order provided for it and you agreed to it....you should still honor the agreement.  If the date you agreed to has now passed, then you are not required to send the children. 
If you agreed to one date, but that date has not passed... but he is now rejecting that date or withdrawing the agreement for that date... then you are not required to send the children.  To cover yourself, send one last email that reads to the effect:  'since you have not confirmed that you will or will not be picking up the children on  _____ date, I will not be preparing the girls to go with you on that date this summer.' 
You are not a prisonor to his whims.  You are only bound by the final order.  In the future, stick to the provisions in the order to reduce conflicts and stress on your family.
It sounds like dad has multiple issues.  For what ever reason, his issues are now affecting the kiddos.  Your ex- may not be open to discussions since you indicate that he has cut off all contact.  However, his failure to communicate creates problems for everyone.  As an olive branch, you may want to see if he would be open to meeting with a parenting facilitator.  There are facilitators that will meet with the parents via teleconferencing and skyping.  Until the root issues are resolved, these issues will continue to effect your children and they don't deserve to be in the middle... and you and your family deserve to have a life. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.