Snow days can wreak havoc on a visitation schedule. First, read the custody order. Does it say anything about snow days or days when school is not in session? If so, follow the order.
If the order does not address snow days or days with school is not in session, see if it talks about being able to modify the schedule “by mutual consent” or by agreement. If so, and you and your ex communicate at all, contact the other parent as soon as possible, and ask how they want to handle the situation. If possible, communicate by email, copied to your attorney. Be polite, don’t make threats, see if they have a solution to the problem. If they don’t have an answer, suggest a solution, such as trading weekends or other make-up time. Maybe all you need to do is change the time and place of the exchange. Treat the other parent the way you would like to be treated and find ways to make up for the missed time. Think about what you would want if the kids are at your ex’s house when the storm hits and can’t make it home safely at the scheduled time. Assume that a judge will read everything your write to your ex. If you can’t communicate in writing, under NC law, if you are both in NC, you can record the conversation without telling your ex. However, I often tell my clients to tell the other person they are being recorded because it prevents yelling and cussing.
If you and your ex are not on speaking terms, try to contact your attorney about making a temporary change to the schedule. If you have a parenting coordinator assigned to your case, contact the parenting coordinator. Remember that their schedules have been thrown into chaos too, so try to contact them as much in advance of the storm as possible.
The bottom line is, if the weather makes travel unsafe, act in the best interest of your children and don’t travel. You will need to document why you made that decision if you think your ex will take you to court for cancelling the visitation. Keep a copy of the weather report downloaded from the internet with any travel advisories. See if the state highway patrol has issued a travel warning and make a copy of that. Take a picture of the road outside your home. Keep copies of your communication with your ex for your records. You may want to research the number of car accidents reported that day.
If your ex is insisting that they can drive in the snow, and they want to come over to get the kids, again, act in the best interest of your children. Maybe your ex has a safe car and lots of experience driving in the snow, but that does not mean everyone else on the road does too. If you are afraid of what your ex will do, call law enforcement and ask for an officer to be at your house when your ex arrives. Chances are pretty good that the officer will have an opinion about whether the roads are safe.
Contact your attorney as soon as possible after the situation has been resolved. You may be able to modify the order by agreement to address the situation before the next snow storm or other unavoidable change to the custody schedule.