One of the most interesting aspects of a family law case is that there are so many situations, circumstances, and emotions that you will encounter that you previously would never have considered. We all focus on things when involved in a family log case: their children, your property, your sanity, and focusing on getting the case done and over with. So much else in your life will take a backseat to these primary considerations that she may look up at the end of your case and realize that there was so much more to consider.
From common sense and familiar perspective, I think that one of the major aspects that will change in your family as a result of your case will be how your children react to going in between your home and that of your Co-parent. Some children acclimate quite well to two of their parents living in separate households. Others are not so adaptable, and you may find that your children fall somewhere in between either of these two extremes. The key for you and your family will be to have the ability to engage in dialogue and work through any problems that your child may be experiencing regarding managing their time and emotions, one going in between two homes.
It is not uncommon for you as a parent to encounter a child who does not want to see your ex-spouse during their periods of possession. At first glance, this may strike you as not being a huge deal at all. After all, it's not you that your child doesn't want to see, and the time spent with your ex-spouse could then be spent with you at your home. Theoretically, doesn't this stand to benefit you in the long run? Won't your relationship with your children benefit from being able to spend more time with them if they do not want to see your ex-spouse?
Why your child not wanting to spend time with your ex-spouse could end up being a negative for you
while you may have spent the better part of your divorce or child custody case in a virtual competition with your Co-parent when it comes to being awarded possession time and conservatorships rights, the reality of your life after the family law cases that you and your Co-parent R better off acting as teammates rather than competitors. Everyone has an ego, and it is completely reasonable for you to have ill will towards your co-parent after a difficult family law case. However, it would help if you remembered that raising a child with this person is your main objective.
Competitions with your Co-parent over issues ranging from conservatorship rights to possession time, legitimate or petty, should be set aside in favor of doing what is in the best interest of your child. The state of Texas presumes that it is in your child's best interest for them to be able to build a meaningful relationship both with you and with your Co-parent. The whole point of favoring joint managing conservatorships over other types of arrangements is to allow both of you to be able to spend time with your child and make decisions for them.
This is a team activity. Ideally, you and your Co-parent would be living in the same house and would be in a committed relationship with one another. However, the reality of most people's lives is ample opportunity for that idealized scenario to be upset by any number of factors. If you find yourself about to go through with the family law case involving you and your children, you should consider that your children's lives will be hurt if they are not able to take advantage of time spent with both parents. Even if you do not believe that your children stand to benefit from a relationship with both parents, the truth is that for most children having two parents in their life works better.
There are two ways that I wanted to approach this subject in today's blog post with you. The first is that there is more pressure on you when you are the only parent involved in your child's life. All of the responsibility of caring for your child, making decisions for them, providing for your child financially, being emotionally available to your child, and many other considerations are felt more acutely when you are the only parent involved in the life of your child.
If nothing else, having a Co-parent who is active and involved in your child's life is beneficial for you simply because it takes some of this pressure off of your shoulders. There are times as a parent, and I can confirm this as a parent of three children myself, that you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Wouldn't it be better for the weight of the world to be borne by two people rather than one? You don't have to like this person, and you certainly don't have to love them, but having a decent amount of respect and tolerance for the other person would allow for you to be able to have more ability to raise the child well given that nobody does better under stressful circumstances.
For example, everyone has emergencies come up in their lives that requires some degree of time away from the family. What if your mother were to get sick 2 towns over and you needed to go to the hospital or see your family for caretaking reasons? Wouldn't it be nice for you to be able to leave your young children for a short period with your ex-spouse where they can be safe and out of harm's way? Seeing your children more frequently is something all parents want but shouldering the entire burden of parenting in your circumstances is not in your best interests, nor is it in the best interest of your children.
Another factor to consider is that you should not have to bear all the responsibility for making decisions for your children. If your child were to need to be enrolled in special education courses and you had a wide variety of courses to choose from and curriculum to follow, it would be beneficial to get the perspective of the other parent who also knows your child well and whom you trust.
If you find yourself in circumstances where you cannot trust your Co parent's opinion and do not know your child well, you are robbing your children of an opportunity to live their best life by not encouraging that relationship. Again, you should not view your co-parenting relationship as a war to be one at all costs. Wiping your Co-parent off the battlefield, so to speak, and then salting the earth so that they could never recover as a parent is not what you should be going for. The life of your child will suffer, and ultimately, your life will suffer as well.
Another consideration that I think you need to make when it comes to your child not wanting to visit with their other parent is that the shoe could very readily be on the other foot if you are not careful. As you likely have figured out by this point is apparent, children's opinions regarding certain subjects can fluctuate very quickly over time. If you establish a precedent that your children determine who they get to see and who they do not get to see based on their preference at that moment, you may find that in a few weeks, months, or years that you are the parent who does not get to see your child because of their desires at that moment.
I wish I could figure out a way to say this to you more eloquently, but at a certain point, you likely need to determine who is going to do the parenting in your home: you or your child. If you want your children to be able to make the decisions in the home, then that is up to you. However, that is not a path that most parents would want to go down, given the immaturity and changing children's priorities. Rather, it is likely best for you to set up a predictable and steady pattern of possession and Visitation in your house after a family law case.
Understanding the motivation of your children is important.
We can spend all day and all night talking about Texas family law, the specific factors involved in your life, the ages of your children, in the other circumstances that are relevant to your situation. However, the best advice that I could probably give you is meaningless unless you figure out why your children do not want to see their other parents. Not only will it be instructive for the current circumstance that you find yourself in, but it will be important to learn to avoid future circumstances where your child may not want to see you or their other parent.
Ultimately, there may be some lingering or long-lasting impact related to your family log case that are rearing their ugly heads at this moment. I also understand that there is a fine line between you being in charge of your household and ordering your child to do something that will harm them over a long period. this is not an easy circumstance to deal with, and it is delicate, to say the least. However, I would recommend you allow your child to express him or herself why they don't want to see the other parent.
You may find, and it probably is likely, that some of the issues discussed with you are pretty skin deep and not that convincing. Remember: kids can be swayed by which parent is more enjoyable to spend time with or even which parent can buy them more fun activities or experiences when your children are with them. Later bedtimes, yummier food, fewer responsibilities, and greater freedom mean that one parent can pretty easily gain an advantage in certain areas over the other just by being more permissive.
On the other hand, you may find that your child has legitimate concerns over spending time with the other parent. It is up to you to decipher which of these concerns are legitimate and which of them are based on your child simply being a little kid. You will likely encounter both, but it is up to you to help guide your child and steady them as they continue in their post-divorce or post-child custody life. Remember that you are the guidepost for your child, and they will likely act in a way based on how they see you acting.
It is not uncommon for a child to try to play the victim to get their way. For instance, if your child does not want to see the other parent because they have rules that they don't like, then this would not be a valid reason, in my opinion, for you to allow them not to see the other parent. On the other hand, if your child has legitimate fears about going to the other parent's house, then you need to take action in an immediate sense to ensure their future safety. Incidents involving abuse or neglect of your child should be taken seriously and discussed with your Co-parent as soon as you are able.
To have these types of discussions with your child, you need to be comfortable spending time discussing things that are not always the most pleasant. It is easy to discuss what ice cream flavor they want to get at the store with your child. However, it is less pleasant to discuss a subject like what is going on at the other parent's house. Part of being a parent is being equally willing to have either discussion with your child. The discussion about what's happening at the other parent's house is more important and should be a focus of yours once your child brings it up.
Another key part of this discussion is how parents can manipulate their children through alienating behavior after a divorce or child custody case. It is even possible for you to engage in this type of behavior when you are unaware of it. For instance, you should watch the language you use about your child when discussing the other parents' home. Talking about the other parent using negative words or imagery can impact the way your child views that parent.
Even if you truthfully are sad and lonely when your child visits the other parent, that is not necessarily the language you should use around your child. Even if you don't mean it to be manipulative or alienating simply knowing how you feel about their visitation with the other parent is enough to cause a child to feel guilty about seeing it otherwise loving and caring parent. Choose your words carefully, and remember that your child is not there as a source of comfort or counseling.
This certainly is not an easy subject to discuss with your child and is one that requires a great deal of introspection by you before withholding your child from the other parent during court-ordered Visitation periods. Keep in mind that withholding your child from the other parent is technically in violation if done over one of their periods of possession. In some cases, your rationale for doing so may be justified, such as if abuse or neglect of your child has occurred. However, the waters become much muddier in other circumstances where your child does not want to see your Co-parent.
The best path to take in situations like this may be to work with your co-parent directly to determine a solution that you all can use consistently. Rather than leaving it up to the courts and involving attorneys, you may be able to work out a solution with your Co-parent if you see this as a problem that may reoccur over time. The more you and your Co-parent worked together to create solutions for your family, the better off your child will be in the long run.
Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material in today's blog post; please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the circumstances in your life, and how the law will impact them.