“Mom knows best!” But does this include knowing fully what her child really needs after she and her husband decide to end their union through divorce?

One very important issue that divorcing couples need to settle is child custody. Whatever decision will be reached by the spouses or by a family court judge regarding who keeps custody of the child, the certain things is, this will affect the child for the rest of his or her life: the way he or she would think, behave, socialize, perform academically, and so forth. The Mayo Clinic emphasizes the need to ensure that it is important to share similar rules between homes, for consistency for the child.

Psychologists, counselors and other child custody experts know how vital it is for a child to have a strong relationship with, and be affected by his or her parents. This is why courts would rather decide on granting both spouses joint custody to allow them to enjoy equal time with their child/children, as well as share decision making duties in everything that will affect their child’s growth and development; joint custody, of course, becomes possible only if the court sees both spouses as “fit” parents, otherwise, custody would be given to just one parent or to whoever the court sees will be able to provide what the child really needs.

As explained in the website of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield, any agreement or decision regarding child custody and visitation rights issues, whether amicably agreed upon by the spouses themselves (through the process of divorce mediation) or decided by a judge (if the divorce process is the traditional court litigation), is binding and will have to be complied with by both spouses. Many times, however things end up other than what the court expects. This is due to one or both parents becoming neglectful in his/her or their obligation, either in the performance of their parental function or in recognizing and respecting the other parent’s rights and person-hood. Most often, though, it is the custodial parent who fails to properly perform his or her function, doing everything possible to separate the child from the non-custodial parent. This failure is known legally as visitation or custody interference and it can be committed by the custodial parent through any one or a combination of any of the following:

  • Alienating the child from the non-custodial parent by creating situations that will render scheduled visitation rights impossible;
  • Severing the child’s affections for the non-custodial parent through negative comments, ill-talks and/or false accusations;
  • Turning the child against the non-custodial parent by consciously and systematically sullying his or her reputation or by spreading hurtful information against him or her. This attitude is more commonly known as Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).
  • Secretly moving to a distant location or another state in order to keep the children away from the non-custodial parent. This is actually a violation of a divorce decree stipulation which requires custodial parents to inform non-custodial parents regarding plans of moving to another residence, whether in the same city or in another state.

In the event of visitation or custody interference, the non-custodial parent may request the court for a modification in its original decision regarding custody. There are other reasons, of course, as mentioned by the Arenson Law Group, PC, why a request for modification may be made, like the custodial parent re-marrying, passing away, developing a health problem which can limit his or her capability in performing his or her duty in caring for the child, going on active duty, becoming unfit due to dependence to alcohol or illegal drug, getting involved in serious legal problems, or if the child reaches the age of 12 and personally requests for a change in living arrangements.

Seeking modification in custody and visitation agreements or decision is much more complicated and challenging than it seems.