Most parents will find shared custody challenging when they first separate or decide to divorce. However, the vast majority of parents will eventually find ways to cooperate with each other for the well-being of their children.
With the exception of situations involving neglect or abuse, children typically need the love and support of both parents while adjusting to life after a major change to their family unit. The courts tend to respect that need by dividing parenting time between both parents.
Unfortunately, not all parents will put what is best for their children first. There are even those who will intentionally interfere in their ex’s relationship with the children. Parental alienation involves your ex separating you from the children and trying to turn them against you. How do you prove alienation when litigating a custody matter or asking for a modification later?
Show a pattern of disrupted visits
Sometimes you will have no choice but to make unexpected adjustments to your parenting schedule. A detention or a cold could easily derail your schedule for the week, and both of you should be flexible with one another about acclimating to those surprise situations.
However, if your ex cancels your parenting time, they should give you a chance to make up that time with the children. If they cancel your time and don’t reschedule, that damages your relationship with the children. Keeping detailed written records of each canceled visit can help you show that your ex wants to minimize or eliminate your time with your kids.
Keep notes of the negative statements your kids repeat
Discussing certain personal matters should occur behind closed doors whenever possible. You and your ex should not involve your children in your disagreements with one another. You should actively support one another as co-parents.
When your ex openly disparages you to the children, the statements they make about you can harm how the children perceive you. It can damage your relationship and also affect their self-esteem. Whether you hear your ex saying something after a custody exchange or your child mentions a specific accusation made about you, keeping a record of those angry statements could help your case.
If a judge agrees that your ex has tried to alienate the children from you, they may give you more parenting time or at least order your ex to allow make-up time for the previous canceled visits. Holding your ex accountable for misconduct that affects your shared custody arrangements requires going back to court but will ultimately protect your relationship with your children.