Visitation Issues in Family Court

Visitation Issues in Family Court

By M. J. Goodwin

 

The most difficult issues in Family Court are those involving children. The best outcome for all children is to have two emotionally stable, healthy, active parents in their lives, even if their parents are not together. Sometimes this is easier said than accomplished. Often times, parents who have been through bitter, protracted litigation are mistrustful of one another and cannot get over it, even if their getting over it is what the child needs.

The situations I am addressing in this blog are petty nuisance type visitation disturbances, such as being late or being too early for the visitation exchange, making last minute demands for some change in the schedule or place, looking for trouble with the other parent’s new partner, refusing to accommodate special circumstances, constantly bickering over many different issues and other similar childish behavior.   More severe examples are false allegations of abuse and exaggerating issues to the point of involving law enforcement and DSS[1].

A good attorney will counsel a client against such behavior. The Family Court frowns on it and it’s not good for the child. A good parent will make every effort to be cooperative with the child’s other parent, even if that means allowing the other parent to have certain liberties or control in certain limited situations. A good parent will never say a derogatory word about the other parent.   The best advice I can give parents in these situations is that it takes two people to fight. If my client refuses to engage in the bad behavior, it makes for a more pleasant situation for the child.

I have drafted many Court orders to address certain behaviors, such as specifying where the child will be exchanged. It is my preference to avoid the Sheriff’s Office, as that teaches the child that it is normal for parents to be so hostile to one another that law enforcement is needed. (It’s not normal!) I have also drafted Orders that require the custodial parent to notify the other parent of school events, even though SC State Law provides that both parents are entitled to such information. Sadly, restraining orders against derogatory comments about the other parent are now the norm. While any lawyer is happy to charge clients for services, these particular services often seem silly and not really necessary if adults could behave properly where their children are concerned.

It is sad for the children involved when the adults cannot get along and continue their petty disputes long past the end of their litigation. Such parents can be sure that they are the cause of their own misery and their child’s misery. The parents will likely spend a lot of time (and money) in Family Court and their children will likely spend a lot of time in therapy.

If you need help with a visitation case or any other Family Court matter, you can reach me by email at mj@mjgoodwin.com

Email inquiries are typically answered within twelve hours.

 

 

 

[1] This blog does NOT address legitimate reports of abuse or neglect of children.

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