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What do you do when your ex is always scheduling fun and exciting events during your parent time? Your ex may not be directly preventing your child from seeing you. Instead, they just give you the burden of keeping your child from these fun and exciting activities. In a situation like this, you either have to tell your child that they can’t do something fun, or you have to go without seeing your child. It’s a circumstance where you may feel as though you cannot win. If you are currently going through this with your ex, it’s important to understand that you do have options.

People Make Mistakes

It may be frustrating to have dental appointments scheduled during your parent time. But assuming this doesn’t happen often, it could have just been a mistake. Or, that time may  have been the best time to schedule the appointment. The same may be true for vacations or events. If your ex is having a family reunion scheduled during your parent time, it’s likely that your ex doesn’t have full control over when the family reunion is scheduled. Though you do have the right to keep your child from these events scheduled during your parent-time without your consent, doing so without good reason or explanation could make you look bad in court. This is especially true if your ex does not normally schedule things during your parent time, or it’s something your ex had very little control over.

When a Pattern Emerges

If this begins to happen more regularly, It’s best to start with communication.  This would include apolite text or email requesting they consult you before scheduling things during your parent-time. Preferably, all communication regarding the issue will be in writing so it can be presented to a court if the issue continues. If you notice a pattern forming, it’s important to keep a detailed and accurate record of what has happened and how it interfered with your parent-time. Keeping a journal or calendar of these events along with the circumstances will help you gauge the significance of the pattern. If you do need to seek the court’s intervention, you will need to be able to demonstrate that this is a pattern. If this only happens occasionally, it’s probably not worth it to take your ex to court over it.

Solutions

Just because your ex has an event during your parent-time and requests more parent-time to facilitate their attendance, doesn’t simply mean loss of parent-time. Open conversation in these situations may afford both parents to work out an agreement to exchange parent-time or something else of value in order to come to an agreement. Showing the court that you are able and willing to discuss and engage in reasonable and rational discussion prior to simply denying a request will be beneficial should the issue be presented to the court later. 

Parental Alienation

In the most simple terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent turns the child against the other parent. This can mean that one parent is bad mouthing the other parent, one parent is making it difficult for the child to see the other parent, or one parent is making the child feel guilty about loving both parents. Parental alienation can also include parents who refuse to enforce discipline for the children, or put their ex in a bad spot by scheduling fun events during the ex’s parent time. If you have concerns that your ex is alienating your children, you should start documenting signs of parental alienation as soon as possible. Parental alienation is not well defined and can be difficult to prove; whether or not it’s happening is often up to the court’s discretion. Even if a court decides your child is being alienated, they may not intervene immediately.

Consequences of Parental Alienation

Depending on the circumstances, your ex may face consequences for continuously scheduling events during your parent-time. However, what those consequences are, will be up to the court’s discretion. You can ask the court to enforce orders and issue sanctions. However, the violation of the custody order will need to be proven to the court and you will need to be clear about what consequences you’re requesting. Though a parent can lose custody for alienating a child from the other parent, courts usually try not to change custody orders since it may affect the stability of a child’s life. For a parent to lose custody the alienation would need to be severe, making the benefit of a change in custody greater than the threat of harm in doing so.

Putting Your Child First

The most important thing to do in a case like this is to put your child first. Your child deserves to have a healthy relationship with both parents. Though it may be difficult to watch your child being used as a pawn by your ex, you should refrain from pointing this out to your child. If you tell your child that their other parent is attempting to sabotage their relationship with you, your child may grow up to see you as the alienating parent. Also, if you do go to court over this issue, and it comes out that you told your child that your ex was trying to alienate you, it can look bad in court. Instead, it is in your child’s best interest to keep them out of all disagreements and issues you’re having with your ex. If there are concerns about alienation it would be best to get your child into a counselor or family therapy to address those issues or concerns as soon as possible. Relationship and mental health professionals can help open up the lines of communication between parents and children to combat the effects of alienating behavior.

When You Need Help Protecting Your Rights

If you believe your ex is alienating you, it’s important to compile all the evidence you have and present it to an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can help you decide whether or not it’s worth it to go to court over this issue. At CoilLaw, our experienced family law attorneys are committed to protecting your rights in a custody battle. If you have concerns about custody, contact CoilLaw today. 

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