Custody and parenting time myths, Part II

by Annette Burns on October 7, 2015

Here’s part 2 of 2 on custody and parenting time myths.

  1. Since we argue a lot, sending messages through the children is the best way to communicate.

Using your children as a messengers is always a bad idea.  It’s harmful to them, and it’s usually strictly forbidden in your court orders (because judges know how harmful it is).     Doing this puts the children squarely in the middle of your conflict with the other parent.   (A great online parenting program, Children in Between Online, shows vignettes of this happening, and offers better solutions.)

A child should never be asked to negotiate a change in the parenting schedule or notify the other parent of something like a doctor’s appointment or a school function.      Your goal as a parent should be to ensure that your kids don’t have to worry about things like that.   The parents need to find some method of communicating that doesn’t involve the children, and email is often a great way when the parents can’t talk in person or on the phone.    If the parents can’t even communicate civilly by email, then intervention by a co-parenting counselor is probably a good idea.

  1. And a similar thought: When I have bills, receipts, medical invoices, and requests for him to pay me back for something, it’s okay to put those things in an envelope and send them with the kids.  The envelope is sealed, so the kids can’t see what’s in there.

Your kids know exactly what’s in that envelope, and they shouldn’t have to witness the other parent opening it, reading what’s inside, and reacting to it.    Reimbursement requests can be mailed, hand-delivered (by someone other than your children), or emailed, if that’s permitted by your court orders.

  1. If we’re having a problem at exchanges, or with telephone calls, I’ll just call the police.       Almost always a bad idea.  Police officers are not enforcers of parenting time orders (which are civil, not criminal orders).   Calling the police during an exchange of children shows the children that one of their parents (or, actually both) is a bad person.  Maybe it even tells him that he himself is bad.    While most police officers are very well trained at dealing with domestic situations, all they can do is speak with both parents and try to get them to be reasonable in front of the kids.   Unless there’s a specific court order telling them to take a child, they can’t physically remove a child from one parent and hand him over to the other.     And calling the police because you can’t get through on the telephone to talk to your child is just plain silly, and you’ll look unreasonable the next time your judge hears about this.

9.   The other parent isn’t paying child support, so she doesn’t get to see the kids.

In Arizona, the obligation of child support and the right to parenting time are completely separate issues.  While the court can consider a modification of parenting time if someone is in contempt of court orders for payment, that’s rarely done and it’s a last resort.    A parent cannot deny parenting time because a payment for something is late.

  1. I have the kids more than half the time, so I can move out of state whenever I want.

 This is almost never the case.  When the parents have joint LDM and essentially equal parenting time, a request to move out of state must be carefully considered by a judge before it happens, and the judge may decide that your child’s best interests require that he remain in Arizona (even if you move anyway).     Even if a parent has sole LDM, if the move will interfere with the other parent’s parenting time (which is almost a certainty), the parent who wants to move still needs permission from the court.   Even a much shorter move (like across town) may be scrutinized by the court, especially if the moving parent wants to change the child’s school as a result.

  

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