It may be tempting to keep your children away from your ex when you are angry with her, or he is behind with child support.
Are your thwarting time with the other parent for the children’s sake, or for yours?
Be clear on the motivation behind your actions. A parent may think that they have good reasons to stop visitation, however youngsters need both parents in their lives.
One may be angry at what a jerk a former partner is, however they still have the right to maintain a parent-child relationship. There are even programs to help inmates maintain a positive relationship with their kids while they are incarcerated.
Kids are shrewd and will get it at some point that one parent is hampering contact with the absent one.
One young woman completely cut off ties with her father after realizing the wall he built between her and her mum was due to his lies and manipulations. A child did not feel close to her mother because of her frequent putdowns of her father and bursts of anger.
Interfering with a child’s relationship with the other parent can come back and bite you on the bum. Instead, model generosity in sharing them with their other parent and being flexible if plans need to be tweaked for special occasions.
Various studies have shown that kids who have both parents in their lives do better on cognitive tests and have less behavioural issues. The US Department of Health said children who have contact with both parents have stronger academic skills and more emotional control.
A Swedish study found that stress caused headaches, stomach aches and insomnia in kids. In two parent homes when children had close contact with both mum and dad, these health issues were reduced.
I have also seen kids with these aches in my school nurse’s office when co-parenting was confrontational or the other parent was not in the picture.
There are legal consequences to be faced when obstructing court mandated shared care. The other parent can haul you before a judge in contempt of court for violating the parenting plan and divorce decree.
A court order (amount of shared care) is a binding legal decree and not a suggestion.
A parent may lose custody or have a decrease in shared care time by hindering visitation.
Parental alienation is when one parent is trash talking the other one and persuading the child to turn against the absent parent. Slander is a serious charge and is when a person makes false allegations against someone else. This can end up as a law suit.
If there are legitimate concerns of abuse, neglect, or child endangerment, follow an appropriate course of action and not take the law into your own hands.
In an urgent situation, call the police. Otherwise, share concerns with the Cafcass officer, your solicitor/mediator, or domestic violence shelter. Document any perceived abuse. Inquire about setting up supervised visitation or having it at a Children’s Contact Centre. These are ways to keep your child safe, ease your anxiety, and foster a relationship with the co-parent.
People that make the news are not the parents that follow the directive of shared care, but the ones who do a runner with a kid or throw a spanner into the works of visitation.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.