So what if you are a child’s mother/father, I take better care of the child.”
“I was all alone when I gave birth to this child and so I don’t think you are fit, physically, financially, or even emotionally, to take care of the child.”
The above are explanations or ‘voices of distrust’ that emerge when the child lives with one parent and the other parent expresses the desire to see the child. Now, if you are the parent who is separated from the spouse and living with the child, you will likely object to the other parent’s visit to the child if you believe that you have sole rights over the child.
As against your belief, however, you can not stop the other parent to see the child, unless there is a court order to prevent such an action. There have been cases where despite the court’s granting of visitation rights, a parent prevents the other parent to see the child or the other parent violates the parenting times as set and ordered by the court.
Preventing a child from visiting his ‘other parent’ may be considered as ‘gatekeeping’.
On what pretext, you may be called a gatekeeper?
You may be a gatekeeper if the other parent you know is under ‘substance abuse’, is physically or emotionally incapable, in other words, possesses a lack of anger management skills or parenting skills and you prevent the child to see the other parent.
This gatekeeping usually arises out of your unresolved conflicts with the other parent, whether the act of preventing the child to see the other parent was justified or unjustified.
It is important, therefore, to understand the types of gatekeeping.
Types of parental gatekeeping in child custody cases
There can be three types of gatekeepers — protective, facilitative and restrictive.
Protective parental gatekeeping
You are engaging in protective parental gatekeeping if you are a parent who knows and understands the history of your former partner quite well such as the other parent’s long-term use of drugs or alcohol, lack of anger management skills, lack of parenting skills and you are then trying to prevent the other parent to see the child.
Facilitative parental gatekeeping
If you are a parent who is supportive of the other parent’s meeting with the child and engages in gate-opening behavior to ease the process of child-parent meeting, this would be called a facilitative parental gatekeeping.
Restrictive parental gatekeeping
If you are a parent who prevents the other parent’s visitation to the child or parent’s involvement in the child’s welfare, without any justification, you are then engaging in restrictive gatekeeping.
Now, when it’s a restrictive parental gatekeeping by you, you actually make an attempt to project your feelings on to the child-parent involvement, the feelings that you might carry about the other parent such as lack of care and concern towards you in the past.
This could also turn out to be revengeful if you begin to put up false allegations on the other parent in court and when the child’s legal custody battle is on. You might also poison the child’s mind with negative ideas about the other parent.
In such cases, it becomes the duty of the other parent to inform the court of restrictive parenting behavior and seek remedial action.
Irrespective of other parent’s ability to parenting a child and dedicate time and resources for child care, you do not have legal control over the other parent’s visitation to the child.
We now come to the most important aspect of other parent’s visitation rights or your rights to legally control the visitation.
Rights as a parent to control the other parent’s visitation to the child
As a parent, you might justify the other parent’s bad behavior based on the previous history but that still does not give you the legal rights to stop the other parent from seeing the child. You need to wait for the court orders.
If the court passes an order where appropriate arrangements have been made to make visitations, you need to comply with them. You may be violating the order of you do not comply with the child custody order and prevent the other parent from seeing the child. Several examples can be cited in this regard when the mother is found guilty of her failure to comply with the court’s order.
In case you find the other parent to be an offender of a child’s physical, sexual or emotional abuse that may endanger the child’s physical or emotional health and safety, you may contact the police, child protection agencies, or the court so that appropriate actions can be taken against the offender. In case of an emergency, emergency services for child custody relief can be accessed.
If the other parent, when prevented by you to see the child, does not seek the court’s help, this inaction will result in court deciding to grant full child custodial rights to you.
The child custody attorney based in Tacoma city, Washington can have the court grant full custodial rights to you if it is found that the other parent spends very less quality time with the child and is not interested in a child’s welfare.
The Bottom Line
It is best to contact an attorney when faced with the dilemma of parental rights over a child, whether it’s you or the other parent of the child. It is only the righteous parent who believes in the practice of family law and seeks refuge of capable family law attorneys.
If you live in Pierce County and seeking legal advice for your better future, contact the child custody lawyer based in Pierce County, Washington.