We all have friends who are very nice people – except where their ex-spouses are concerned. Then the bitterness of a harsh separation wins out, and the best thing for them both is to stay well away from each other. But many spouses are also parents. Can either spouse make their child stay well away from their ex-spouse too?
This is all too common in bitter breakups. Each spouse thinks that their ex is bad for the child, and will fight tooth-and-nail to ‘protect’ their child from the other spouse. Both mean well for their children. But they forget that a child’s relationship with both parents can be much different than their parents’ relationship with other.
The Maximum Contact Principle
This is why the maximum contact principle is so important. This says that a child must have as much contact with each parent as possible as long as that is in the “best interests” of the child. Contact with each parent is valuable and important. It’s also first the right of the child, not the right of the parent.
A child should have a relationship with both parents, even if the parents can’t stand each other. They don’t have to see each other. The child can see them individually at different times.
Spouses Are Parents Too
A former spouse who tries to keep an ex from seeing their child will have to have a very powerful reason to keep them apart before a judge will even consider stopping a parent from seeing a child. In many cases, judges will consider limiting contact before preventing it altogether.
No matter how bitter the differences between spouses, they should remember that they’re parents as well as ex-spouses. Just because the parents don’t need each other does not mean that their child doesn’t need them both.
When separating or divorcing, parents do well to seek professional legal help. An experienced family law lawyer can provide guidance on child custody and access arrangements.