Tag: return

If a parent exceeds parent-time by an hour or so, what can I do?

If a parent exceeds parent-time by an hour or so, what can I do? Our custody order provides that child visitation is 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. My ex and I agreed by e-mail to change it to 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. But now my ex picks up at 10 and returns the child at 4 p.m. instead of 3 p.m.Is there no recourse since the order says 4pm despite their agreement? 

Great question. 

If you were to take this problem to court for the judge to resolve, odds are that the hearing would unfold something like this and that the judge would do something like this:  

Argument from parents: 

  • Parent 1 “The custody order says child visitation is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Parent 2 asked to make it 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and I agreed, but now Parent 2 picks up at 11 a.m. and brings the kids back at 4 p.m. I want Parent 2 held in contempt of court!” 
  • Parent 2 “Parent 1 lies! It’s true that Parent 2 and I agreed to change visitation start and end times from 11 and 4 to 10 and 3, but I always bring the kids back by 3 p.m. Sometimes I may run into a traffic jam or something that causes me to run a little late, but I’m not trying to ‘steal’ an extra hour. I am outraged!” 

Judge’s decision:  

“Well, you both can’t be telling the truth, but it’s impossible for me to know which of you is lying. So, unless and until one of you has independently verifiable proof to support his/her argument, I am not going to reward one of you or punish the other on such a dearth of evidence and shaky evidence at that. Now both of you obey court orders. If there is a problem with Parent 2 going an extra hour over the court-ordered visitation period, and if Parent 1 has a problem with that, then Parent 1 may want to consider keeping a photographic or videographic log of pick up and return times to document the problem and provide the court with proof. If Parent 2 is being falsely accused, then Parent 2 may also want to consider keeping a photographic or videographic log of pick up and return times and a log of photos or videos showing that if and when Parent 2 is late it’s because of traffic jams or other things beyond Parent 2’s control.  

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277  

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Is it unreasonable to insist Dad/Mom provide clothes for the kids at his/her place?

QUESTION: Is it unreasonable for me to assume my kids would have their own clothes at their dad’s place?

He has been requesting that I send specific items with the kids for his weekends (stuff like swim shirts, church clothes, extra socks), and since he has been in a tight spot I have obliged. It’s come to the point where he has failed to return the borrowed items and I have to replace them, as he refuses to either compensate or return the items. Would it be wrong of me to tell him that I will no longer send the kids with anything?


No, it IS NOT unreasonable for you to assume that the kids would have their own clothes at Dad’s place.

Yes, it IS wrong to send the kids to him without clothes. The kids suffer, and they won’t understand that Dad’s to blame. Dad’s a bum, but the kids need clothes.


Dad should buy the kids some clothes for their use when they are at his house. Sunday clothes are a good example (that way they don’t get lost in transit back and forth). They aren’t that expensive (if you buy from a thrift shop, and the stuff at thrift shops is perfectly, perfectly good–no one can tell it’s from a thrift shop, if you shop carefully).

It only makes good sense for Dad to have some (not a lot, but enough) clothes on hand so that if the the clothes the kids packed aren’t wearable (stains, mud, rips, tears, loss, etc.), Dad has something for them to wear instead. Dad could easily buy a week’s worth of clothing for each child (not including shoes, and even then, he can get some flip flops or cheap sneakers in a pinch) for under $100 per child, and he can build up the “Dad’s place” wardrobe over time. Even starting out with just a single “outfit” for each child is a prudent emergency backup plan that Dad should follow.

Going forward, however, you can take reasonable, pragmatic steps to ensure he doesn’t hoard clothes in the future (these may seem kind of weird or inconvenient, but they aren’t; your attorney will thank you for doing this):

1) Take a photograph of each item of clothing you purchase, along with a photograph or copy of the receipt for the purchase;

2) Photograph everything you pack for the kids that you send over with them to Dad’s;

3) If the kids return with less than they left with, you can e-mail Dad the photographs of everything you packed, along with the photographs of everything you purchased, with proof of purchase, and tell him that you own these clothes, that Dad has them and has not returned them, and that if he does not return them, you will report them stolen and will seek to have him sanctioned by the divorce court.

Give the idea some thought.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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How common is it for lawyers not to take or return clients’ calls? Why?

How common is it for lawyers not to receive their clients’ calls or not to return calls? What are the reasons for this avoidance?

It is inexcusably all too common.

I am a lawyer, and while I do not treat people this way, I get treated the same way.

Where I practice you routinely get in response to your call to your lawyer’s office the extremely (and intentionally) ambiguous: “He’s/she’s not available right now” (which is almost certainly not true). You were likely taught that in such a situation the courteous thing to do next is to ask to leave a message requesting a return call. So you leave a message with your name, date, time you called, and your number.

And you don’t get a call back. Ever.

So you call back, get told “he’s/she’s not available right now,” and leave another message. After that goes on three times or more, you realize that another approach is needed.

So you call your lawyer’s office back the fourth day, get “He’s/she’s not available right now,” (if the office has a marginally intelligent receptionist, he/she will get creative with the excuses and go from “not available” to “in a meeting,” “with a client,” “out of the office at the moment,” “in court,” “in mediation,” “sick child/spouse/parent,” etc. and then ask when he/she will be available.

An inexperienced gatekeeper (also known as a receptionist or secretary) may be tripped up by being asked “when?” and may actually go and try to find out when the lawyer is available. But all it takes is once for the poor gatekeeper to realize that is not the appropriate response (the gatekeeper will be roundly chastised for such a slip and never go the extra mile again).

No, the appropriate response from a skilled gatekeeper, when you ask when the lawyer will be available, is either “I don’t know” or the more sophisticated “Would you like his/her voice mail?”

Undaunted, you try this on day five: “Hello, I’ve been told my lawyer is not available. I’ve been told to leave messages, which I have done for the past three days without a return call. I have asked when my lawyer will be available and have been told nobody knows, and I don’t want to leave another voice mail, so please direct me to someone who does know when my lawyer will be available to take or return my call.”

You may even simply ask to schedule an appointment to meet or speak with the lawyer. Ha! Now you’ve got them cornered!

Of course not. You will then be told either that the only person who knows the lawyer’s schedule is the lawyer himself/herself or that the lawyer’s assistant who handles his/her calendar is—you guessed it—unavailable (at which point you now have two vicious circles going). Asking if anyone is available to help you will result either in a repeat of what you’ve already gone through or result in someone picking up the phone to tell you, “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Make no mistake: lawyers who don’t answer or return calls know exactly what they are doing. They aren’t stupid. They aren’t unable in any way to answer or return a call. They graduated from law school and passed the bar examination; they can answer and return calls. Their support staff members are instructed to brush off, and how to brush off, calls.

And your lawyer actually believes you’re not wise to his/her machinations.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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