Unreasonably Withholding Consent When You Are Sharing Custody

Nov 04, 2017

I want to talk with you about this notion of unreasonably withholding consent.   I bring this up because I see it come up again and again in my cases.  I saw it come up recently in one of my cases where the father in the situation wanted to take their child to Disneyland during a weekend when the father’s parents were coming in from out of state.   They came in just so they could all travel to California and go to Disneyland.   

In this particular situation my client didn’t give father an answer about Disneyland for days and he was asking her via email and text messages.  He repeatedly was asking “Can we go? Can we go?”.  She was addressing other matters and she was trying to get other things from father related to other situations they had going on. But she would not address this Disneyland issue and in my mind mother’s failure to address this issue promptly was the unreasonable withholding of consent.

Ultimately she said yes but it was literally the day before the trip was supposed to happen.   In my mind if mother didn’t have any plans that she could have changed the answer should have been an immediate and a simple yes because that was best for their child.   I see the unreasonable withholding of consent come up in situations where one parent wants to travel to another state or another country even over the holidays and one parent won’t sign for the paperwork.   You know that you need to show the airline authorization the other parents to travel with the child.  Again if the parenting plan allows for both parties to have a vacation and it allows for both parties to travel to another state or country then not signing what needs to be signed amounts to the unreasonable withholding of consent.  

Another example is a situation where the parties’ daughter normally was in daycare all day. Then there was a period of time when the mother’s family came from out of the country and wanted to spend time with their granddaughter while normally she would have been in daycare.   So during father’s time he disallowed this contact between the daughter and the grandparents.   So essentially the grandparents who were here from another country to visit their granddaughter just sat in an apartment all day while the little girl was in daycare.   You know it’s not like she was in kindergarten or first grade or even preschool where she was missing out on work.   She was in daycare so that is another example of the unreasonable withholding of consent. 

Now there might be some situations where a parent asks you for a concession or a favor and you may have a other plans already made that cannot be changed and if that is the case and that saying no to that would not be the unreasonable withholding of consent.   But I would just ask you to be careful and be mindful of when the other parent asks for a favor and you aren’t giving an answer quickly or you’re not giving an answer that is reasonable.  Because if you do end up in court one of the things that the judge is going to look at is which is the party that’s more likely to allow continuing and consistent access to the child.   If you’re the party who’s unreasonably withheld consent then it could be a strike against you in the overall custody battle.

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