Expert Advice

Visitation Rights

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q
My second-grade daughter doesn't want to stay overnight with her dad and his new wife during the week (they get her every other weekend). It disrupts her routine for school -- they live 40 minutes away. This was never an issue until he recently remarried and he feels it is his legal right to enforce this. Is this the best thing for my daughter?
A
If this is visitation ordered by a court, it is his legal right and you can only change it by going back to court. You cannot refuse to let your daughter go to see her dad.

You and your ex-husband can agree to a plan that best meets your daughter's needs, however. Try to talk with him when you are both calm and explain your concerns about your daughter's need for routine during the school week. If he insists on having her during the week, you will have to let her go.

After a few weeks of this routine, talk with your ex-husband again about the situation. Your daughter may have adapted and may be doing fine with it at that point. If she is unhappy about it, her father will probably realize this, in which case he will most likely be willing to go back to weekends only. If she is also having problems with it, ask for a conference with the teacher, your ex-husband, and you. The teacher cannot take sides, but can share information about the effect the plan is having on your daughter at school.

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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