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Dealing with Custody When the Other Parent Gets in the Way

After a divorce, it can be difficult for parents to work together and adhere to the terms of the child custody arrangement. Minor deviations from the visitation schedule or other aspects of the order are almost inevitable. Unfortunately, many parents face more deliberate breaches. If you’re sharing custody with an uncooperative parent, try handling the situation with the following tips.

Avoid Escalation

No matter how frustrating the other parent’s actions seem, do your best to address them calmly and rationally. Try the following steps:

  • Explain what the problem is.
  • Ask about the reasons for the other parent’s actions.
  • Suggest a new approach to try going forward.Whenever possible, avoid accusing, yelling, or rehashing old fights. A combative approach usually won’t resolve custody issues, and it could even make the situation worse.

Whenever possible, avoid accusing, yelling, or rehashing old fights. A combative approach usually won’t resolve custody issues, and it could even make the situation worse.

Establish Written Records

When discussing custody issues or making requests, try communicating through email to create a record of the interactions. This ensures that, if you eventually need to address your issues formally, you’ll have proof that the other parent refused to cooperate with the child custody orders or your attempts to resolve the problem.

Follow Court Orders

When the other parent ignores court orders, you may be tempted to resort to similar tactics. Refusing to observe visitation orders or pay child support may seem like the best way to force the other parent to cooperate, but these approaches can backfire. For instance, if you withhold child support, you might be held in contempt of court and punished with jail time.

Consider Modifications

If the other parent has established a pattern of ignoring the custody order, you may be able to legally modify the order. When awarding child custody, Virginia judges consider each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent; generally children benefit from ongoing relationships with both parents. If the other parent’s attitude is impeding your relationship with your child, a judge may determine that modifications are appropriate.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re still facing issues with the other parent or considering requesting modifications, consulting with a family law attorney can be beneficial. Many parents think seeking representation is only necessary during the initial divorce. However, representation also can be invaluable afterward, especially if changing circumstances make enforcement or modification of the original settlement or divorce terms necessary.

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