When parents break up, their main concern is to maintain as much stability for the children as possible. Much of this stability comes with a solid parenting plan that provides structure and predictability. Knowing what to expect is important for children, especially when they may be feeling anxious following the breakup.
These days, maintaining that stability is not so easy. If you had a parenting plan that was working well, you may be frustrated when events beyond your control prevent you from sharing access to the children with your former partner. What are your rights? Can you violate your custody order when you feel you have no choice?
Perhaps you and your partner disagree about what is best for the children in these uncertain times. You may have genuine concern about the well-being of your children if you continue to exchange custody as normal, especially if members of your ex’s household do not practice methods of precaution to your standards. On the other hand, you may feel your former partner is taking advantage of the confusing circumstances to deny you time with the children. However, you can take some simple steps to protect your rights to custody, including:
- Continue making regular efforts to see your children as often as possible, or be flexible in allowing your ex access to the children.
- Communicate with your children electronically if you can, or allow your co-parent to contact the children through video chats or other means.
- Try to find a workable temporary custody solution with your parenting partner.
- When communicating with your children, be positive and hopeful, and avoid dwelling on the crisis that is preventing them from seeing both parents.
If you are missing time with your children because of uncontrollable circumstances, you will want to document the time you are missing. Your documentation should include the dates and times when your ex denied you access to the children. You can also include the efforts you made to remain in contact with the kids and any difficulties you encountered from your former partner. This information may be helpful if the courts allow you to make up the time you are missing once the crisis passes.
In troubled times, you may not have access to family courts and other resources in Washington that could help you protect your children and your court-ordered parental rights. However, you can still reach out to an attorney for advice and guidance when you are dealing with disruptions to your parenting plan or child custody orders.