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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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In my divorce agreement, we agreed that my mother in law would

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In my divorce agreement, we agreed that my mother in law would be the childcare provider. If either wanted to change then we would have to agree in writing. Our setup has been that she would watch the kids in the AM, wherever they were and get them on the bus at my house. After school they would remain at my house until I got home at 5:30 from work. My would get them Wed, and every other Thursday at 6:30. Recently he has introduced his step daughter into the schedule and wanted me to move the bus stop to his house to make it easier for him. My kids would have to wake up earlier and on days that I am off or work from home I would have to take the kids to his house to get on the bus. This was very inconvenient so I now have my live in cousin getting the kids on the bus every morning. After school now my mother in law will take the kids to my ex's house where I was to pick them up. I asked to have them stay at my house when they get off the bus because it was inconvenient for me to go to his house every day to get the kids. He refused and said that it is the choice of the primary childcare provider to decide where she would like to take care of this kids. Now she gets them off the bus takes them to my ex's house then brings them back to my house at 5:30. My way is less traveling for my mother in law but she will do whatever her son asks. My questions are how does the switch up of adding the step daughter into the mix of the childcare affect our agreement and how do I an the primary custodial parent have no right to say where my kids should be during my time with the childcare provider. THank you in advance for any advice you can give.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

Adding your stepdaughter to the rotation should not in any way change the arrangement between you and your ex regarding the care for your children from that relationship - with the caveat that your ex-mother-in-law has no obligation to provide care for your stepdaughter unless she agrees to do it. You can both make changes to the agreement if you agree. But one of you cannot change the agreement at will because the other made an agreed change. Does that make sense?

If your ex is not complying with the divorce agreement, and there is no written agreement to change, you have the option of going back to court and asking the judge to find him in contempt. Your right to insist that the children stay at your house after school stems from the fact that this was the agreement that was made and you did not agree to change it. But, if there wasn't an agreement, then it is the custodial parent that has authority to make decisions regarding child care.

One option is to send a letter explaining to your ex why he's in contempt of court, and giving him one chance to change the arrangement before you go back to the judge. Judges tend to like it when parties try to work things out on their own before filing contempt motions. Also read your divorce decree to see if it says that, if one of you has to bring an action to enforce it, the other must pay their attorney's fees. That's a fairly standard clause. But you would not need a lawyer to file the request.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I don't think I am entirely confident that I understand fully what my next steps would be. I am going to apologize now, this is not my area of expertise so I really do appreciate your patience with me. Our agreement states that she would watch the children however the place of where she watched them was not specified. After school and on days off have always been dependent on whose day it is to have the children. So unless it is part of his holiday or summer vacation time, those days are at my house. Because the place is not specified, can I really tell him he in contempt of court if his mother is still watching them.

If it doesn't specify, then you may have more luck with a Motion to Clarify Agreement - asking the judge to make it explicit that, on your days, the kids go to your house. However, if you have custody on those days, and he is not respecting that by insisting that his mother take the kids to his house instead, he is technically still in violation of the custody order. You get to decide where the kids go/what they do on your days, and he gets to make that decision on his days.

The one problem that you might run into is that the judge doesn't have any authority over your former mother-in-law. He can tell your ex what to do, but he can't tell her what to do. So if he talks her into refusing to watch the kids at your house, that could cause bigger problems - you'd have to prove it, and you might wind up needing to find another caregiver.
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