Mom Lost Joint Custody Because of This One Common Mistake

Uncategorized May 01, 2017

I was just in a continuing legal education seminar and there were a lot of topics and a lot of panels that were presented and one of the things that really struck me was a presentation where the speaker was talking about how a parent who shares joint custody with the other parent had gotten custody taken away from her.

What happened was she started making major decisions about her child without including the other parent in that conversation. As I thought about it I thought you know this is not the first time I've heard about something like this happening.

In fact, it's come up in my practice a lot and it actually just came up last week. I had an interaction with the woman who lived in Arizona and she shares joint custody with a guy and based on what she's saying he's not the best dad. He was not an involved parent doesn't interact with their daughter at all. So she decided that she needed to move because she had more support in another state.

So without asking for permission from the court or without getting the approval of the father she just left. She left the state of Arizona and this is a big problem. I think it's a big deal and I talked to her about it and I said I understand he's not the best dad in your eyes but there's a proper way to try and do this especially when you share joint decision-making with the other parents.

The proper way is to actually talk to that person about what it is that you're thinking of doing whatever it is. Whether it's moving to another state; whether it's moving your child or children to a different school; whether it's to put your children on medication or whether to get your child counseling for some issues that he or she is having. These are major decisions and when you share joint decision-making with the other parents you have to that parent in the conversation. If you don't, you risk really upsetting a judge.

The judge could determine that it is clear to him or her that you cannot co-parent with the other parent and because of that he or she is going to give the other parent sole custody or sole decision making. This has happened and it does happen and I don't want it to happen to you. As much as the other parent may not be involved; as much as they may be a jerk or create conflict you have to try.

I would recommend that you document your attempts at having that conversation. If you can put them in an email or put them in a text message. If you meet with the other parent send an email of recapping your meeting but just make the effort. It’s really important in the eyes of the judge that you make the effort. So if you share joint decision-making talking to other parents if you have sold decision-making over your child I think you should still talk the other parent even though you may have the final say over what ultimately happens on the big issue.