Ev - posted on 12/02/2015 ( 98 moms have responded )
I have read many posts on custody issues, child support issues, and visitation issues. I have also read many posts where the mom wants to be the one to determine the father's role in the life of the child/ren. I know a few other ladies who have also read them too as they have answered a good deal of the same ones I have. I thought it might be wise to post something that might be of help to all who are coming to terms with these issues.
1) The child or children have a right to a relationship to both parents. It is not up to one parent or another to decide when or if the other parents sees the kids. It is called parental alienation if you keep the child or children away. The other parent can take it to court and mom or dad can loose custody to the other parent trying to see the kids.
2) When you find yourself pregnant with a child plan to set custody, child support, and visitation as soon as you can after the birth of the child. This helps to define the roles of both parents and what their obligations are to the child or children, gives the children set times to spend with each parent to establish bonds and relationships, and makes sure all adults are party to the expectations set for them by the court.
3) No piece of paper you and the other parent come up with and have notarized is legal. Its just a bargain you two have made and has no bearing in court unless you do bring it to the judge to sign off on to make it a legal document about the custody etc of the kids. At this point either parent can keep the kids and not give them back. And police will not do anything unless there is a court order involved in the situations.
4) Stick to the court orders. To not do so can land you back in court and getting in trouble with the judge and he or she can make changes they feel are good for the children in their eyes.
5) Visitation and Child Support are separate issues and have to be handled alone. Just because a parent does not meet the child support does not mean the other parent has the rights to withhold the visits for non-payments. Visitation can be something the judge sets in stone or is on a suggested schedule given from the court that lays out the visitation process. In some cases, the parents can alter it to fit their needs due to work or other instances beyond their control or to give each parent more time with kids. In the instance that the judge sets it in stone, you have to abide by it totally.
6) Joint custody--Joint custody as an option is definitely better for the kids. It might be set up as half time with one parent for the month and half time with the other parent the other half of the month and could be done 2 week intervals or 1 week intervals. There are other forms of joint custody where one parent has majority primary care but both parents have legal say in what goes on with the kids. Sometimes legal say is left to one parent. These choices are dependent on the laws, the judge's concerns for the interest of the children and the parents' cooperation. Joint custody does not have to be hard on anyone. In a real sense it could be the easiest of the whole custody setups.
7) Primary custody is not solely given to the mother anymore. I know this for fact. When I divorced back in 2002, the lawyer I had said that dads were starting to gain primary care more and more. Its not because the mother is bad and or unfit. Its because the judges are seeing that fathers do have just as important a role in the child's life as the mother. So ladies who think that the man is not good enough to take care of a kid because she feels he is immature, can not do it or whatever reason for not wanting him to take the kids for even visits; those reasons are unfounded. A mother does not know what a father is capable of. He has to learn to care for a child just as you had to learn the day you gave birth. A mother is not all knowing the moment her child is born. She has to learn to care for a child. If a man wants to father his own child, he can do it. He just needs the chance to learn how and the chance to do it.
8) Moving the kids away. Usually when either parent decides it is time to move and they have kids with someone else, it just can not happen right then and there. The parent wanting to move has to get it cleared through the court and with the other parent. Moving kids away can make the visitation harder for the other parent if they can not afford to make the trips for pickup and drop off of the kids and even other reasons such as not having their scheduled time if the move is several hundreds of miles away. The other parent can contest the move and the judge may just not allow it. Unless the judge deems the reason for the move a good one, most likely it can not happen.
9) Step parents. This does happen all the time. Each parent moves on and sometimes marries again. That is not a bad thing. But what needs to happen is that the step parents and parents be on the same page for the kids' sakes. Its not about the adults and how things fit in their lives and so on but what the kids needs are. All of them should sit down and discuss the visits, vacation times, and holidays and come up with a way to work out getting the kids back and forth, who will do the pickup and drop off, and anything else that pertains to this. In perfect world, it would work all the time but it does not. It is primary work of the parents to decide when, where and how things need to work. Step parents are a support. Also on the subject of step parents, they are now part of the family and should be treated at the least respectfully by the parents. They are not a babysitter. They are not supposed to drop their plans to handle a situation with the kids unless they agree to it. They do have say in their house on how they expect things to be and to be shown respect by the kids. THey should be allowed to attend any and all functions the kids have going on. They should be allowed to voice anything they see as concerns or ideas to the parents and then let the parents make the final choices. They are a support for the families. I am not saying you have to like them, be the best friend types, or anything else: I am saying to be polite and respectful towards them as they are now part of your kids' lives.
10) Girlfriends/Boyfriends. This should have been before the step parents but its here. When a parent starts dating again, they need to keep in mind their kids. Do not start introducing every date to kids. Its not fair to them because they can attach to someone so easy. And then if that person suddenly is not there anymore, they get heartbroken. Wait until you have dated a time before an introduction, 6 months or a year. Give yourself time to get over your previous relationship as well. It is hard for these changes to take place with breaking up the family and so on let alone having a new man or woman in your life.
11) Calling the step parent "mom" or "dad". It is an issue for a lot of people. Calling a step parent mom or dad can be quite upsetting to either parent. If a child is young (under three or four years) they will call anyone mom or dad. If they feel close to this person they will say it. Its is up to parents to talk about this issue and decide ahead of time how the kids will address step parents or even BF or GF. If a child is much older, a first name is good enough. No need to force the issue with them.
12) Living together unmarried. As far as I have heard, in most custody and or visitation orders, parents should not be cohabiting with someone they are not related to or married to. If it is in the orders follow it. It sends a lot of weird messages to the kids. I know that a lot of people disregard this and do it anyway.
13) Talking about the other parent. Talking about the other parent is okay as long as it is not in the negative. The kids do not need to hear this as it upsets them. My kids had to hear it from their dad and step mom about me for example. I had to pick up the pieces and my kids were in their teens and preteens at the time. Its not easy having your parents divorce or split, but it makes it worse when the parents are talked about in a negative way.
14) READ CAREFULLY: This is the most important thing I am going to say here about kids and divorce or split families and custody. THE KIDS SUFFER THE MOST. They never had a say in any of this nor did they ask for it. Its harder on them because they have to do as they are told such as which parent to live with for example and which parent they will see only on weekends and vacation times. Their worlds have been torn apart by the adults in their lives. They have had to maybe move to a new place to live and start over. Their emotions are raw and open wounds. They want their parents together again though it won't happen. They can not understand the reasons why their parents are not together anymore. Keep them in the foremost part of your mind during this time. They need you more than you need a man or woman in your life.
NOTE: This is just advice. Its not legal advice but just a general idea of how things are done and should be done. If you live in one state and the custody is set there do not try to do it in another state to get the kids with you. All states have their own laws on family law especially divorce, custody, visitation and child support. Just work it out in the state the family was in first and go by that state's laws. It is better than a messy case in two states that do not agree on who has the kids and who does not.
ALSO: Kids are not pawns or objects that are owned. If you do not want to parent a child with someone in particular, then do not get married to them or sleep with them for you will be attached via the child for 18 years at the minimum.
I did not do this to attack anyone. I did this to make some points and offer some insight. Kids deserve better than what they do get.
If you feel something has been left out please by all means add to it.