Divorce & Parenting: How to Resolve Conflicts After the Divorce

Posted April 13, 2010 in Your Family & The Law by

Sadly, many divorced parents find that the issues which contributed to their split continue to affect them—in the form of custody conflicts—long after the divorce is finalized. Particularly if your children are young, you and your former spouse will be in one another’s lives for years. Logically, it makes sense to try to get along. Unfortunately, emotions often trump logic.

How can you resolve custody conflicts with your ex-spouse after the divorce is complete? To answer that, in part, requires you to have some idea as to your former spouse’s intentions. Is she deliberately trying to cause conflict? Is he acting with malicious intentions? Even when your ex isn’t intentionally trying to cause problems, it can still be stressful, frustrating and infuriating.

When disputes arise, look to your custody order and parenting plan. Do these documents address the issue at the heart of the dispute? If you otherwise have a friendly relationship with your ex-spouse, consider sitting down together to review the documents and try to resolve the conflict together. Ideally, you should do this after you’ve both had the opportunity to calm down and in a neutral location without your children.

Enforcing Your Visitation Rights

If you are the noncustodial parent and have a custody order, how do you enforce it when the custodial parent doesn’t honor it? If it’s an occasional problem, try to be flexible and accommodating.

If the problem persists, you’ll want to document the violations before seeing an attorney. An easy way to document violations of a custody order is by making notes on a calendar about the time lost with your child and your efforts to reschedule the visits. After you can show a pattern of behavior, you can work with a lawyer to get the order enforced in court.

In many states, consistent violations of a custody order can be grounds for changing custody, especially if the custodial parent is alienating the children with negative remarks and withholding information about the children from the noncustodial parent.

In most states, the police will assist you in enforcing a visitation order. But think carefully about the impact the appearance of police officers on the doorstep may have on your children. Sometimes simply threatening to get the police involved will coerce the custodial parent into honoring the visitation order.

Solutions to Child Visitation Interference

Courts recognize that it’s normally in the best interests of the child to have the custodial parent nurture and encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child.

If the custodial parent interferes with the other parent’s visitation rights, the court may modify the custody and visitation arrangements. Some modification examples include:

  • Increasing visitation rights
  • Scheduling make-up visits
  • Requiring visitation to occur outside the custodial parent’s home
  • Changing custody from one parent to the other parent
  • Online or virtual visitation

A court will normally only change child custody to the other parent in extreme circumstances. The best interests of the child standard guides the court as to the level of modification of the custody and visitation arrangements.

Don’t Withhold Child Support or Visitation

One mistake many noncustodial parents make is threatening to withhold child support when the custodial parent withholds visitation. There is no legal connection between the right to see your child and paying your child support, and a judge may hold your failure to pay your child support against you when you finally make it to court to enforce your visitation rights.

Similarly, custodial parents should not withhold visitation or interfere with the noncustodial parent’s other rights in an effort to punish the noncustodial parent for something he or she did.

Like it or not, you and your child’s other parent will be in each other’s lives for years to come. If you can find a way to work through your conflicts, each of your lives will be less stressful .

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