My partner and I separated and we are co-parenting our two children. We have agreed times for her to pick them up when they are scheduled to stay with her. She is always late. I’m not talking a few minutes late; I’m talking 30 to 40 minutes late. I’ve asked her repeatedly to be on time. One time she was over an hour late! What can I do to no longer be held hostage this way?
It might help to regroup with your former partner. Find out if the times selected are simply bad times for them. It might be difficult for them to disconnect from work, get out of a meeting etc. Being flexible with times to meet may clear up the problem. At the very least it will demonstrate your desire to work with them for a good fit. If time management has always been an issue with your ex, this could simply be an extension of their overall inability to manage their time. They may not understand the effect it has on the children or you. Having a conversation or meeting together with a family therapist might help your ex to understand. This may help to resolve the issue. Your annoyance with your ex is fair. Even so, be sure to keep your own frustration in check when the children are around. Friction between parents is always difficult for children, even more so, if they feel they are at the center of the tension.
If you can’t make any headway outside of the legal process, check your custody agreement. An effective agreement will contain specific dates/times, including a specific allowance for being late. I can’t give you legal advice, but you may want to speak with a legal advisor. If your ex is later than the custody agreement allows, do you need to continue to wait? If not, meeting in a neutral place, may allow you to leave and get on with your life for the day, with your children. I would suggest that you objectively document your ex-partners tardiness. It may help you to have emails or a signed schedule that specifies the agreed time for pickup. If you choose to meet at a neutral place, such as a fast food location, or a mall, a timed receipt is an objective “time-stamp.”
If you have no agreement in place, you may want to work on one that would define what the waiting period is, and what your option are when the waiting time is over.
Good luck. I hope that simply discussing this with your former partner, with or without a family therapist will solve the issue for you.