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Advice plz: Other Parent forgot major school project and refuses to bring it

Started by this2shallpass, Apr 26, 2013, 08:45:26 AM

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My children's father and I have been divorced 7 years. The main tension in our relationship then and co-parenting now is that he has ADD. It is his excuse for forgetting everything from physical belongings of the children to doctor's appts to child support payments. This has been exacerbated by the fact that I live in State A, he lives in State B, and his new girlfriend lives in State C. We are all roughly one hour apart.

Before I say anything else, let me be clear that I am not jealous of the new girlfriend. I began dating post-divorce before my ex did, had the opportunity to remarry (a wonderful man in the military) but declined, and genuinely hope that my ex remarries because he'll benefit from the help of a life partner.

However, this particular girlfriend's living situation and custody order are a problem. She and my ex have their kids on opposite weekends and different nights of the week (except one night). She also has a no move away clause and a clause prohibiting overnight guests of the opposite sex when her kids are present. As a result, they are under a lot of stress about being able to spend "alone" time together. My ex asked me to switch weekends, but my kids do not want to have to share their weekend with him with her kids. So right now, my ex and his gf only have Thursday nights alone. On Thursday mornings, my ex drops our kids at school in State A, goes to work in State B, and then drives after work to State C to spend the night with his girlfriend since her kids are with their dad.

Almost invariably, my kids call me in a panic on Thursday during the day because they realize they have left some important item (homework, part of a sports uniform, etc.) either at my ex's apartment or in his car. He consistently refuses to get these items to the kids until Friday evening. They are 8, 9, and 11, so it is age appropriate that they may leave an item behind in the morning rush. But their father refuses to drive back to State B where he lives in order for me to come and get it.

Yesterday, our middle child got to school and realized that that he had left his long term science project in Dad's car. He called Dad who was at work in State B to say he needed it. The response was "I'll bring it after work on Friday." After school, my son told me and I called my ex. I said "Please bring it. It is going to be marked down already for not being in today and will be marked down another 10% if not brought tomorrow morning." He said no. I said "May we come to State C to get it?" He said "No, this is our private time." I reminded him that the project could earn no higher than a B if our son couldn't turn it in until Monday. Our kids all get straight As. He still said no and stopped answering phone calls or texts from me or my son.

I explained to the school and the teacher was sympathetic, but legally has to follow the rules about late work. Our son is now angry and doesn't want to visit his father this weekend.

What can I do, informally or formally to resolve the current situation and prevent this in the future?


When was parenting plan made? Has either of you moved since the last order? If he can not handle getting the kids to school on time with the proper materials then maybe his overnights on school days should be addressed. Document this incident, if possible with the teacher (emails? will he write letter? or keep grade and reason it was a B). At the same time, give kids a check off list before they leave dad's. Any important things in the future, you bring to school or hand in early on your days. Hard lesson learned.

As for not going to dad's. Not an option until court ordered is changed. Tell son, he needs to go to talk about it and that he will always be his father. Tell him you will come up ways so this does not happen again.


Dear Ocean, thanks for the advice. The parenting plan was made when the kids were babies/toddlers and not yet in school. It included 3 phases (pre-school, elementary school, and secondary school) that we have implemented on a timeline. I definitely will document what is going on and look into a modification. Is it true that when NCP loses school week visitation, that time must be made up during summer? A friend just returned from court a few weeks ago and the judge ended her ex's mid-week overnight but gave him 36 extra nights in the summer. She considered it a fair enough trade-off because her daughter may have to repeat 9th grade English (ex allowed her to sleep in every Wednesday morning so she missed the class too many times to earn credit).
Meanwhile, my ex just dropped the project off about an hour ago. We happened to be outside using my iphone to record my daughter doing her dance routine when he pulled up. As a result, I was able to capture visually his interaction with our son. The project is damaged! The board is bent and smudged. Some of the written material will have to be replaced. Some of the specimens we glued on are missing or damaged. It will take the entire weekend to replace and repair. My son was devastated. He started crying when his dad handed it to him. I handed the camera to my oldest child and walked over to see what ws going on. My ex says that he "didn't remember it was back there" and tossed his gym bag on top when getting in the car this morning. He blamed my son for leaving it in the back seat on Thursday morning and said it was no big deal since "it's not going to get an A now anyway."
After our middle son ran into our home crying, he tried to get the other two kids to say that they wanted to go with him to get Italian ice. They both declined and he got angry and left. Needless to say, all four of us were upset by what happened. I just wrote it all down and will need to take photos of the project.
I definitely want to try whenever possible to finish things early and turn them in on my mornings. Our biggest challenge is that our school gives a different subject each night (except reading, which they have 4 nights) so we almost always have something major that must be done (or atleast finished) on my ex's night.


You can ask for the modification based on the fact that you are now an hour apart away and ex is having trouble getting kids to school with items they need. You do not have to automatically give him those days in the summer but  giving him more time then would be "fair" or add on school holidays instead (all the Monday's they get off so he is not involved with school). If you add on to the summer, just make sure you get in writing that you will have a 2 week non-interrupted period with kids for vacation with you.
Follow the court order and have the kids go when scheduled so he can not use that against you.