Custody issues are often the most contentious part of negotiating a divorce. Custody issues or parenting plans are also a common reason for divorced coparents to petition for a modification. The petition can be due to changes in the needs of the child, a parent wishing to move for a new job, a parent remarries, or there are physical or mental health challenges that make responsible parenting difficult.
Parents strive to give their child a loving and safe home, and there may be anxiety if they feel the coparent does not have the same standards for what that means. There may be frustration if they feel the parenting plan is not working or a coparent wants to change it.
Avoid these mistakes
Hopefully, they can come to a new agreement, but sometimes the disagreement can escalate. This may cause parents to do or say things that they could later regret. These include:
- Not paying support: Regardless of how a coparent acts, a parent cannot legally withhold child support, nor should they weaponize it by threatening to withhold it unless they meet some new condition.
- Missing obligations: A single working parent’s life is complicated, but that is no excuse for missing prearranged pick-ups and drop-offs or spending time with the children when it is their turn.
- Bad parenting: Everyone makes mistakes, but actions that endanger the child, show bad judgment, or be regarded as abusive could jeopardize parental rights.
- Taking the kids on an unapproved trip: A parent with custody must sign off on travel plans, even during the co-parent’s time with the children.
- Causing parental alienation: Some parents consciously or unconsciously attempt to sour or wreck the co-parent’s relationship with their children. This may be done by sharing true or untrue details about the marriage or generally speaking disparagingly about their ex.
- Introducing a new partner: Dating and getting remarried are likely, but parents need to be careful how and when they introduce a new partner to the children.
Changes may not come easy
Parents should always try to work out their differences and then finalize major changes to the parenting plan with a petition for modification. If the coparents cannot agree among themselves, taking legal action is the best option. It can help minimize disruptions to the family and formalize any necessary changes.