My law partner Tim recently blogged about missed parenting time. See “Stop Messing With My Parenting Time! What Happens When Parenting Time is Lost Because a Parent Isn’t Following the Schedule?“. From the fact pattern discussed in his blog, it was clear that one parent was consciously limiting the other parent’s time with the children.
But sometimes it is not so clear why one parent is not spending time with the children. In the absent parent’s mind, it may be clear that the custodial parent is denying them access. They may feel like they have made reasonable efforts to spend time with the children, but the custodial parent keeps preventing it. At some point, they just give up. They feel like all attempts to see the children will be denied to the point that they no longer even try. Months may go by with no contact at all, and no further attempts to see the children. What’s the point if the custodial parent will never allow contact?
The custodial parent may see things differently. They may say that they had legitimate reasons for not allowing contact. They may cite school activities, a family wedding, or other reasons. Anything, really. They will likely claim that it was never their intention to deny parenting time indefinitely (and cite some pretextual reasons) whether that was their true intention or not.
So, when a parent has not seen their children for a long time, it is not uncommon that the parties have different explanations for this. In short, they blame each other. The absent parent claims that they have been denied access to the children, and the custodial parent claims that the other parent is not even trying to see the children.
The best advice in this scenario is to document, document, document. If you are not seeing your children, send regular (but civil) emails following up on missed parenting and asking when you can see the children. Do not allow weeks or months to go by without initiating contact. Likewise, if the other parent is making no effort to see the children, send regular (but civil) emails confirming that the children are available for parenting time.
Admittedly, this blog might be a bit of an oversimplification of the issue. The point is just to be aware that there are often differing viewpoints as to why one parent is not seeing the children. The more documentation that you have, the more credible your position will be.
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