It is a worst-case scenario for many parents facing divorce. As emotions spiral out of control between you and your ex, they may become vindictive and attempt to damage your relationship with your children as a way to punish you.
Even if there is a shared custody order on record or if you have the right to visitation, your ex might start finding reasons to cancel your time with the children. The first few times one of the kids has the flu, it may not seem that unusual.
However, when you find yourself missing most or all of your parenting time due to the unexpected mishaps, you will have to start asking yourself whether the pattern reflects a real health issue or an attempt at parental alienation. If you believe your ex is intentionally diminishing the amount of time you can spend with your children, you should take action sooner rather than later to assert your rights.
Review the original court documents
Sometimes, disagreements about custody stem from confusion about what the terms of the order are. Before you attempt to take action, you want to ensure that you aren’t making a mistake about the terms of custody. Reviewing the order from the courts with an attorney can be a good way to understand what parental rights and responsibilities you have.
Try to calmly bring up the issue with your ex
It can be hard to stay unemotional when a situation threatens your relationship with your children. However, getting aggressive or angry might make things worse.
Bring up what’s been happening with the other parent and let them know that you feel concerned that they might be trying to cut you out of the kids’ lives. In some cases, just knowing that you have noticed the pattern might be enough to prompt some people to stop interfering with your parenting time.
Keep a record of all of your missed time with the kids
If you want to ask the courts to intervene and enforce your custody order, you will need to have documentation that your ex is not upholding the order. Keeping the details of each time you missed out on visitation or had a shortened time with your children will help substantiate your claims of intentional interference or alienation by your ex.
Decide now what goals you have
When you ask the courts to intervene, you will have the option to ask them to enforce the existing court order or to request a modification to the custody arrangements. It may be possible for you to assume primary custody of the children in circumstances with egregious and intentional alienation.
Reviewing the details of your situation with an attorney and discussing the potential consequences of different approaches can be a good way to determine what steps to take to uphold your parenting rights in Virginia and maintain your important bond with your children.