When parents cannot make their relationship work, the children often pay the price. Custody of the children is a highly emotional subject for the parents. Unfortunately it is the parents who are highly involved in the children’s life who will most often fight over the custody of the children. Parents also may try to use custody and visitation to punish the other parent. When the parents are fighting over custody and visitation, the children are the ones who suffer the most.
Both parents are entitled to be a part of their children’s lives and should be encouraged to have an active relationship with them. It is in the child’s best interests for the parents to find a way to work together to establish a custody and visitation schedule that works for both parents and the children. If the child grows up knowing that both of his parents were involved in his life, he will be much more secure and confident in his own relationships. A young girl who is encouraged to have a strong relationship with her father will be much less likely to end up in an abusive relationship later in life or to seek male attention in ways that are not healthy. If the custodial parent is blocking the other parents relationship with the child, the court may decide that it is in the child’s best interest for the other parent to have custody. This is commonly referred to as parental alienation.
Some of the most common reasons for the custodial parent to try to deny visitation to the other parent has nothing to do with what is best for the child. A parent may deny visitation because the other parent is behind on support payments. While making support payments is important, there are other remedies that do not punish the child. Another reason that a parent may attempt to limit visitation is that the other parent has a new relationship. Whether the custodial parent is uncomfortable with the new person involved or does not want the child to be exposed to the new person, the noncustodial parent has the right to determine who the child will interact with during visitation.
If you are involved in a custody dispute, take a step back and try to decide what is best for the child. Then figure out a way to make it work. In the Bible, Solomon, when asked to make a custody determination, order the child to be cut in half and each person claiming custody to be given one half. When one person said “let the other person have custody”, he knew who to award custody to. Be the person that puts what is best for the child before your own interests.
If you need assistance in a custody dispute, contact Hampton Roads Legal Services at 757-276-6555. I will meet with you and seek to find a way to avoid splitting the child in half!