In today’s video I want to talk with you a little bit about whether or not a parent who’s not actually seen or spending time with his or her child or children stands a chance of getting joint custody or equal parenting time with that child or children.
And the answer to that question is it really depends. It depends on a lot of factors and these factors are known as the best interest factors. If you haven’t already download my best interest factors checklist by going to commandthecourtroom.com, but whatever state you’re in you should research your child custody statutes. And in those child custody laws there’s going to be a list of factors that the court is required to consider in making a decision about custody and/or parenting time these lists of factors is commonly referred to as the best interest factors and not one factor controls.
Usually a judge has to look at the interplay between a bunch of different factors not one factor is going to outweigh all of the other factors. So, the fact that a parent may not be seeing his or her child is not the only thing the judge is going to look in deciding whether that parent is not seeing the child to get joint decision making or equal parenting time.
Now another thing I pose to you is you have to look at what the reason is for the parent not seeing that child or children. Is the parent not seeing the child with children because the other parent is getting in the way and impeding that relationship? And if that’s the case I think that’s probably not a very good thing for the parent who’s getting in the way of the relationship. At least in Arizona one of our best interest factors is—what parent is the one who’s more likely to promote a frequent meaningful and continuous relationship with the other parent. If one of the parents is not doing that then I would say that is a strike against that parent. Not all states may list that as a best interest factor in their laws or statutes but even if it’s not listed it’s something that you can bring up. You can tell the judge, “Hey, judge now I haven’t meeting my child because he or she, the other parent, hasn’t been letting me.”
The other point you have to look at is if the other parent is letting you see the child or if you already have parenting time that says you’re allowed to see the child but you’re not seeing your child, why not? You should be exercising all of the parenting time that you’re allowed to see with your child if it’s possible. If you are exercising less than the court has ordered that you can exercise then I would say that’s a problem for you. It’s hard to go to court with a straight face and say, “Judge, I want you to give me more time or I want you to give me equal time” if you’re not exercising what you already have. If you’re exercising what you have then by all means a good piece of evidence that you can take with you to court is a calendar. I often tell my clients keep a journal, keep a
Calendar, keep track of the time that you’re spending with your child or your children, this could potentially be good evidence when you go to court and you’re arguing about how much time you have or have not spent.
This also goes for the parent who is having their relationship with the children interfered with by the other parent. Keep a journal of what’s going on between you and the other parents so you can have a fresh memory if you end up going to court and you can tell the court what’s been happening and you have evidence to back it up. Which may you may or may not admit but you will have it there at least refresh your recollection.
So to the question if I’m not seeing my child can I get equal decision making or joint decision making and or equal parenting time? The answer is maybe. You have to look at all of the best interest factors. Specifically address with the court why it is that you’re not seeing your child, is it because the other parent is getting in the way of that relationship? Or is it just because you’re not doing it because you don’t want to, you don’t feel like it. And if you you’re not doing it because you don’t want to you’re not feeling like it then change that or change your position as far as asking for that equal time or joint decision making.