Our Civil Code is very big on family. And even though it was first written over 200 years ago, a basic principle of our family law is that children benefit from the care of both parents. The law requires that parents make an effort to foster good relations between themselves and their children. Parents are required to take care of their kids, and, incidentally, children have a duty to take care of their parents.
Somehow, though, when the subject of visitation comes up, there always seems to be an excuse as to why the other parent should not see their children:
“I’ve never gotten a dime in child support!”
“He/she doesn’t deserve to see his/her kids!”
“We always argue when we see each other, and it’s better if he/she just stays away.”
I find that a lot of parents are mistaken on issues of custody law. A parent with physical or domiciliary custody over his or her children does not have the right to put up barriers that keep children from knowing both parents. It doesn’t matter if one parent has been negligent in paying support or if you still have your differences since breaking up. The law wants you to work things out for the benefit of your children, and the law will help to facilitate the mending of broken family ties.
The child support question and “earning” the right to see a child
Does a parent have to pay child support? Absolutely. Does a parent’s failure to pay child support affect his or her right to visitation? Not at all. These are two entirely different matters in the eyes of the law. Although frustrating to have a parent withhold support, the law provides a process by which child support can be collected by the State, so as far as it’s concerned that issue is being taken care of. In the meantime, the law still requires parents to facilitate a relationship between children and both of their parents. In other words, failure to pay support is not an excuse to remove visitation privileges.
Parental conflict as a barrier to parenting
Obviously if a parent is talking to me instead of the person he or she had a child with, there’s a conflict problem. I certainly try to minimize conflict between parents when I can, and emphasize the importance of clear communication when dealing with the children they have in common. The reason I do that is the law requires parents to not only communicate, but takes into account the extent to which a parent is willing to reach across the divide and keep the relationship between the child and the other parent alive.
Now, please understand that I am not talking about domestic violence here. If you are in a situation where you or your children are in danger of harm because of violent behavior between you and the other parent, allow the court to resolve the issues involved. You may need a protective order to help keep the peace, and supervised visits may be ordered to protect the children if the court feels it is necessary. The court may also want to order counseling for you and the children to help the family cope with and prevent family violence.
You need a caring, trusting advisor in child custody and visitation cases
No matter what the underlying problem is, the two of you have a child together, and until that child is grown you will both have to make concessions in the best interest of that child. That’s hard advice to swallow, but with a caring, trusted advisor on your side you can make the tough decisions the law requires you to make.
Meneray Family Law does nothing but work with family members to resolve these and other important family law matters. Call Liz Meneray for a consultation today at (504) 330-5522 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And enjoy your kids, they grow up so fast!