Trying to find a fair way to share parenting time can be exceptionally difficult. In many cases, parents are able to work together to create the best life for their child, putting aside their own preferences and weaknesses. However, some parents face the nightmare of what to do when their child's other parent is abusive to the child, or allows the child to live in an unsafe environment.
If your child's other parent abuses or mistreats the child, it is completely reasonable to petition the court to change a custody order for your child's best interest. However, creating a safe and healthy environment for your child goes beyond taking legal action.
Also, it is important to note that abusive parents still maintain many of their rights as parents, even if a court restricts or diminishes those rights.
Whatever you choose to do, know that you should not have to do it alone. Enlisting the help of an empathetic, qualified attorney can allow you to safely explore your options and provide the best life for your child.
Your child's safety is the court's goal, but parental rights also matter
If you suspect that your child's other parent abuses your son or daughter, or creates an unsafe environment, then it is wise to document as much as you can before petitioning the court.
The court generally makes its rulings based on what it believes will most benefit the child, so if your former spouse or partner is dangerous, then he or she may lose rights to unsupervised visitation.
However, it is unlikely for a parent to lose all visitation rights. Rather, the court would probably modify the abusing parent's visitation rights and require supervised visitation at specific times and places.
The supervisor may be either court appointed, or someone that both you and the other parent mutually agree upon.
In the courts eyes, this arrangement keeps the child safe while maintaining the other parent's right to visitation privileges.
Know how to care for yourself to keep your child safe
If you have broken free from an abusive relationship, the abuser can still exert control over you if you are not careful.
Even if you are successful in limiting the time and manner in which your ex visits your child, it is important to take personal steps to ensure that you are no longer controlled by him or her and that you are creating a safe and healthy environment at home.
This may mean educating yourself and your child about what emotional abuse and bullying look like, and how to respond to them. It may also entail changing the way that you interact with your child's other parent, to change the dynamic of the relationship.
While this is always difficult, it is well worth the effort.
Don't fight the battle alone
These matters are always difficult, but they do not have to also be lonely. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can rest assured that your child's best interest and your rights as a person and a parent are in good hands.