Ex plays fast & loose with supervised visits

There’s no winning when kids are in the middle
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My wife and I work very different schedules and have designated Wednesday night as our date night.  We have, for the last five years (but for the pandemic closures), gone out for dinner every Wednesday night. In part that is because I have custody of my daughter from my first marriage. Her mother has supervised visits with a professional supervisor Wednesday nights for three hours.  

Recently my ex has begun cancelling her Wednesday visits claiming the supervisor was sick or unavailable or she didn’t have money to pay for the supervisor that week. I have suspected the cancellations were really because she is drinking again. My daughter is 12 and is comfortable staying home alone when her mother cancels last minute, so my wife and I have continued our tradition.  

Two weeks ago, my ex cancelled again. My wife and I went out as usual and we saw my ex sitting at the bar of the restaurant we were in. She came over to our table and confronted us alleging child abuse for leaving her “baby home alone” while we went out for dinner. It was embarrassing but she also began threatening to call DCF and our daughter’s school and have her taken away. She also threatened to take me back to court and get her mother custody of our daughter.

How should I be prepared if she carries out her threats?

Sometimes your best defense is a good offense. You should file a complaint for modification seeking to pause her parenting time on Wednesday nights until she is healthy enough to resume. Presumably your daughter expects to have those visits on Wednesdays and would like more predictability in her schedule. Knowing Wednesdays won’t happen also allows you and your wife to plan your lives differently and maybe you can change up your date night to some other night you are both home if necessary.

Your daughter is 12 — that is the age when kids often start babysitting close to home for other people’s children (usually when their own parents are home for backup). You are not talking about leaving your daughter home alone for a long weekend. You are talking about a couple of hours to go on a date with your wife. DCF has far more pressing situations to investigate than the facts as you have presented them. But, if you file an action with the Probate Court and DCF comes calling, they will usually defer to the Probate Court to address the issue in such situations, giving you another reason to take this before a judge.

Finally, while I know nothing about your former mother-in-law, it does say something that she is not the regular Wednesday night supervisor. In order for her to gain custody of your daughter, you and your ex would need to be declared unfit. While your ex sounds like she fits that bill — you do not. Do not give this threat another thought.

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