If there is anything worse than two married people splitting up, it is two parents dividing a family. Child custody issues are difficult and can be ongoing and surface at unexpected times.
The following are some of the most prevalent issues relating to child custody:
- The anger and pain that a divorcing couple feels while undergoing a divorce can be overwhelming. It is not unusual for either party to use the children as pawns to get back at each other for real or imagined slights. This includes badmouthing the other parent and attempting to alienate them from the other parent. This solves nothing, but it will confuse the children.
- Parents need to accept that while they no longer wish to be together, each of them has the right to spend time with the children. While 50 percent access is not always practicable, spending equal time with each parent should be the goal. The children need to know that they remain a priority with both parents, even if said parents are no longer a unit.
- Having the children shift back and forth between two homes, and perhaps even schools, can be exhausting for everyone. It is the parents’ responsibility to devise a schedule that works best for the children. Such a schedule may require changes as the children grow and enter adolescents.
- Divorcees differ when it comes to seeking out a new partner. Some begin dating immediately, while others move at a slower pace. It may be difficult to see an ex with someone new, but a parent needs to accept reality. More importantly, said parent needs to help the children adjust to someone new. Regardless of how the parent feels, it does not benefit the children to hear their parent’s new partner maligned or belittled.
- The primary guardian may stop visitations with the other parent, especially in retaliation for non-payment or late payment of support payments, or if the other parent failed to follow court orders regarding when and where to pick up and drop off the children. If one parent continues to be uncooperative and non-compliant, the other parent may need to take that parent to court.
- Child visitations can become confusing when a parent, usually the one with custody of the children, wants to move to a different location. As this may deprive the other parent of his or her rightful visitations rights, such a relocation requires a court order.
- Many custody agreements specify the amount and time of virtual visits over the internet or phone calls between children and non-custodial parent. Issues will arise when the custodial parent won’t take the phone calls or will not permit the child to speak with the other parent.
- Even though they are divorced, the two ex-partners ideally should be working as a unit when it comes to making decisions regarding the children’s upbringing, medical needs, education, vacations, etc. Again, if the parents are unable to resolve the issues, a court may be forced to intervene.
- Whether unintentionally or out of spite, a parent may withhold relevant information about the children from the ex-spouse. This can pertain to schoolwork, friends, outings, or a health-related matter. When both parents have shared custody, they both have a legal right to all pertinent information regarding the child.
- A serious problem can arise when one parent has been granted custody but is not always a fit custodian for the children. The reasons include:
- Excessive drinking
- Other forms of addiction, such as gambling.
- Emotional or physical abuse
In the event of these serious problems, the parent should discuss the situation with and present evidence thereof to his or her attorney for the sake of the children’s safety. An experienced family law attorney will know the best steps to take to keep the children safe and change the custody agreement, if necessary.
If the parents are unable to reach decisions that are in their children’s best interest, a lawyer may recommend mediation with a neutral third party before referring the matter back to the court. Mediation issues can include disagreements regarding who gets the children for what holidays, weekends and birthdays, school functions, etc.
Lack of access to information regarding the children may be more accidental or due to forgetfulness. A mediator can help parents set up an information exchange for all school, medical, and other relevant information. There are apps on the market that can be used for this purpose.
Parents should unite to create one set of rules for both homes. This lessens the confusion and frustration that children naturally feel when being shuttled between two parents. Since children can be experts at dividing parents, a mediator can help to create needed unity for all.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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