When parents share child custody, or one parent has custody and the other has visitation rights, it will be necessary at some point to move the child from one parent to the other. These “swaps” happen every day in Virginia. In theory, a parent with visitation rights is entitled to spend time with his or her child, regardless of any disputes he or she has with the custodial parent, such as allegedly unpaid child support.
In reality, outside tensions between the parents sometimes affect child custody handoffs. The parents may still be dealing with resentment following a bitter divorce, or they may not feel the custody arrangement is fair. Some parents will not bring the kids to the handoff as a way to “punish” the other parent.
Other times, the parents cannot be civil with each other long enough to complete the handoff. Arguments, name calling and even violence has been known to occur in front of the kids.
Witnessing their parents yelling or fighting with each other is never in children’s best interests. This is not to minimize any continuing legal problems the parents may be having. However, those issues should be worked out through the legal process, not with raised voices, threats or outright violence.
For instance, the law recognizes that circumstances can change, and that a child support order or custody arrangement that made sense at the time may no longer work for one or both parents. It may be possible to get the court to amend the order, especially with the assistance of a family law attorney.