Concerns Regarding the “Other Parent’s” Parenting Time

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image3562352One of the hardest things for people going through custody fights, whether they were or were not ever married, is the desire to try and control what is happening during the other parent’s parenting time.  Usually one parent takes on more of a primary-caretaker role for younger children.  They make the doctor’s appointments, feed the child their meals, help them complete their homework, and put them to bed.  Parties are often concerned about whether or not their “rules” are being followed during the other parent’s parenting time.

The harsh reality is that you typically have little or no control over what happens during the other party’s parenting time.  The bedtime at your home may not be the same bedtime as at the other home.  You may fix very nutritious meals; the other parent may feed the child McDonald’s.  While the best interests of the minor children are at the forefront of the Court’s concerns in visitation disputes, the Court certainly is not going to micromanage what you feed your children while they are in your care, or what time they are put to bed (with certain exceptions for extraordinary circumstances, of course).

One thing that parties can do when they are trying to determine a custody or visitation schedule is try to set ground rules, either by their own agreement, or while working with a mediator.  Perhaps the parties can agree that the children will only eat fruits and vegetables as snacks, or that the parties agree they will limit the children’s intake of fast food to only once per week.  The parties can agree to whatever parenting time rules they want and incorporate it into a joint parenting agreement or custody judgment.  However, unless there is a danger to a child or a medical reason to set some of these guidelines, the court is there to resolve legal issues and is not there to micromanage every aspect of a parent’s time with their children, whether the other parent likes it or not.

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