Are There Any Circumstances Where Keeping a Child Away from the Other Parent Is Warranted?
Child custody issues are always contentious when it comes to divorce and legal separation. This is why the courts typically intervene and ensure that parents can make arrangements that are in the best interests of the children in question. Of course, there are always circumstances that can influence the outcome of custody cases or immediately dictate which parent will get custody of their children.
Several potential circumstances could warrant a child being kept from one of their parents. A history of abuse or neglect, mental health or substance abuse issues, and even the inability to hold a job that allows the parent to provide for the child could all be reasons that the court denies custody.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that getting sole custody becomes easy. In fact, it will probably become an even longer process and include more challenges. After all, if one parent is involved in any of the above issues or has any legal matters that could impact their parenting ability, the court usually wants to figure out if the other parent is involved in any way.
For example, in the case of an abusive spouse, the victim would likely retain custody of the children because it’s likely that the other parent would abuse the children if he or she abused their former spouse.
The biggest problem is that while certain issues warrant keeping a child from a parent, the courts always want to do what they can to bring the family back together. Even if the parents aren’t together, it’s largely believed that children that have healthy, engaged relationships with both parents will be more stable than those who are only raised by one parent or who have limited time with them.
Reasons to Deny Custody and/or Visitation
If one parent is being denied shared custody or isn’t being allowed to see the children at all, it could be for any number of reasons. The most common include:
- Jail: If a parent is in prison or jail, they’re incapable of providing a home and caring for their child so custody is impossible.
- Relocation: If a parent is trying to move out of state or even out of the country, the courts may decide the parent that is staying gets sole physical custody for minimal disruption to the child’s life.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Anyone with a history of substance abuse or ongoing substance abuse problem will typically be denied custody of their children until or unless they attend a recovery program or get sober otherwise.
- Violence/Abuse: Adults who have a history of domestic violence or abuse toward their children will be denied custody in most cases. The courts will also consider whether there was neglect, which is deemed just as damaging in the eyes of the courts, psychological professionals, and legal experts.
- Mental Health: Some severe mental health conditions could prohibit someone from being a good parent or being capable of taking care of a child. Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality Disorder, and conditions like Major Depressive Disorder could impact parenting abilities and the court’s decision regarding custody.
The caveat here, of course, is that if a parent is undergoing treatment, seeing a therapist and psychiatrist regularly, and working to become capable and self-dependent, they could be awarded joint custody or given visitation to see how they interact with and care for the children.
What If I Don’t Want My Spouse to See the Kids?
When divorce gets ugly, things get contentious. It’s natural for you to want the best for your children and right now, you feel like your soon-to-be ex might not be that. Unfortunately, courts don’t rule in favor of parents just because they feel one way or another. Like anything, family courts are looking for the best interests of the children and that’s assumed to be shared parenting unless it’s deemed that one parent is not fit for such an arrangement.
It doesn’t matter how much you dislike your spouse or whether you think they’re a good parent—unless, of course, you can prove your feelings to the court. If you can provide actual proof that the children would be better off with you (or not with the other parent), the court may reconsider the custody arrangements. However, they aren’t going to rule in your favor just because you don’t like your ex right now.
Leave it to the Courts
The best thing that you can do when there’s a contentious situation surrounding parenting and custody arrangements is to leave it up to the courts. That makes the judge the “bad guy” and ultimately relieves you of that role. Whether you can prove that the other parent is unfit, or you just don’t like the idea of them having custody makes a big difference in the eyes of the law.
Make sure that you are clear about your concerns and direct about what you think is best for the children. Don’t make accusations that you can’t support, or they may look at you negatively, which is the exact opposite of what you want. If things aren’t too ugly, you might even want to try mediation to see if you can work out an arrangement that the courts can approve rather than leaving it up to the judge.
Talk to a Lawyer
In addition to letting the courts do their job, you should also invest in a divorce and child custody lawyer who can do his or her job in providing you with the best legal representation in your case. They will also be able to help you understand the custody laws and best practices in your county so that you know what to expect when it comes time for mediation or court.
If the situation is contentious and you want to avoid conflict as much as possible, hiring a custody lawyer that is experienced with family law is the best choice. Contact the Modern Law team to find out how we can help you with your custody case when the other parent is a concern.