Parental Visitation is a Right not a Priviledge

A child should be able to visit their parent, as per court order.  There should only be an exception if abuse is involved – real abuse, not that cooked up by the angry spouse with custody.  It is unfortunate that some parents will make up abuse stories and this ruins a child’s emotional stability.

If a child is naughty, this is not a reason to hold them back from the parent either – out of spite.  The opposite parent, whether they are setting consequences properly or not has a responsibility to the child just as the one with custody does.  Having custody of a child does not mean you are the owner.  It means you have the most responsibility.  The other parent has the same when they are with the child, though if they only see the child on occasion it is generally fun time not a time for setting consequences.

**Grandparents have rights to see the child as well (from the side that does not have custody).  It is not fair to rob a child of their ancestry just because you don’t like your spouse.  The grandparents are not at fault (I am sure there are exceptions), for you and your spouse or partner ending.  Even if they are at fault, if they did not abuse the child they have a right to see the child.

What should you do? 

If you are upset with the opposite spouse, that is between you and them.  It is not the child’s fault.  The child needs to deal with the divorce or the split of the relationship with both of you, not just one parent.  The child has a right to know their grandparents and aunts and uncles too.  The person with the custody is supposed to be the more mature and wiser parent who was granted full custody because the judge thought you could be trusted.  There are also circumstances in which the opposite parent may not have the ability to accept full custody.  Most likely you and your lawyer made sure this happened.  Thus being the wiser and more mature parent, it is important to put your differences aside and think only of your child and their right to know their parent and extended family.

What happens if you don’t?

An emotionally healthy child will turn against you when they are out on their own and go out in search of the other parent and their family.  You will have some really hard teen years before they turn 18 though.  An emotionally unhealthy child will be angry and take out their frustrations on themselves.  Studies show that girls are more likely to end up pregnant and boys are more likely to end up in juvenile hall. There are also cases of kids who engage in cutting, suicidal ideations, addictions and other forms of self-harm.

It will be difficult for both types of children to be in relationships that are satisfying.  How can they have healthy relationships when their role models have been keeping them away from their families and they have not had a chance to learn more about themselves through their identity phase of adolescence?

What happens to you?

To quote an old cliche “You get to be right, not loved or anything else nice just right.”   When you put a lot of energy on your anger toward the opposite spouse, you bring in a lot of negativity and turmoil in your life.

Turning this around:

Talk to the other parent.  If they are not capable of having a mature conversation, talk to a mediator, family therapist or even lawyer if need be.  If you weren’t successful at being married (or in a relationship), chances are it will be even harder for you to be divorced or separated.  Professionals are a good choice to deal with this.  Don’t use the children to punish the opposite parent. Don’t use the children to have conversations with the opposite parent. Don’t punish the children for tattling on you to the other parent.  They are kids.

If you have evidence that abuse is involved – contact social services in your state. Let them do the investigation.  If you have concrete evidence e.g., marks, they will find it or the doctors will examine them. If you have knowledge that the other person is using while being with your children – contact social services and let them do an investigation.

When you end a relationship with someone and there are children involved, you are going to continue having them in your life for the rest of your life and the lives of your children. It is best to try and realize that now it is about your children, not whether or not you like your spouse (or partner).  It is not easy but the children must come first.

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2 thoughts on “Parental Visitation is a Right not a Priviledge

  1. But what about when the abuse is real? And it is against an infant? And our court system believes in reintegration and rehabilitation. I caught it early enough to save my child from many long lasting harmful effects, and early enough that at this point he probably doesn’t even remember his abuser. But if the courts have their way, he will gain back access and I will have to explain to my now toddler son, that the man he believes to be his father isn’t, and that the man we are forcing you to see is. But you can’t hang out with him much, and never outside of this building because he is a bad bad person.
    Someone tell me what possible benefit my child gains from such a relationship?

    Sorry, passionate on this subject. There are too many who were being vindictive and ruined the system for the kids who are in real danger. It’s tragic, really.

    • What you are talking about is a completely different article. I was trying to focus solely on Non-Abusive cases which is a different issue to be addressed. I share your sentiments because I have heard of these scenarios many times. It isn’t the people who have “ruined” the system that is effecting your situation and others. All cases are based on facts/evidence solely. I say this from sitting in court rooms for eight years with childrens services. In your situation I can only say that perhaps you need a different lawyer to help you. Hopefully you still have the documentation from the initial occurrence as an infant (or childrens services does). I don’t know whether this is sexual or physical but I would fight for supervised visits at the maximum if physical and none if sexual. Maybe get a guardian ad litem involved or a CASA worker involved to help you in this fight. Document everything! Get evidence on long term effects of abuse to infants also. I don’t know your state or the evidence but with a good attorney, and a CASA or guardian ad litem all working together, the judge has to rule in the best interests of the child (not the adult).

      However, all this being said, it is important to tell the child the truth about their parent the sooner the better. Dad in home is stepdad and dad out of home is birth dad. As a toddler your child doesn’t really understand either of these two terms so you have some time to think about how to explain. Little by little you can explain to your child – based on their level of maturity, your concerns about the birth dad. The reason I say this is that secrets in families never ends well. When the child becomes a teenager and is facing an identity crisis they will begin to question things. Children on some level always know something is not quite right.

      Good luck to you!

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