Give the Non-Custodial Parent a Freebie

Posted December 16th, 2016.

Categories: Child Custody, Custody Tips, Family Law.

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Often, a child custody case is so contentious that parents fight over every little detail. So this piece of advice may seem contrary to common practice. But trust me on this one: It’s not a bad idea, every once in a while, if the parent with primary physical custody of the child (the custodial parent) gives some extra time to the non-custodial parent. Toss in a freebie here and there: an extra day of visitation after a holiday visit, a few extra hours on a summer night, a Monday when the child has no school. I’d be interested to know if anybody has done this, and what results you’ve had.

By giving the non-custodial parent an unexpected freebie, the custodial parent demonstrates a non-confrontational willingness to work together as parents in raising the child. The gesture reflects trust and fairness, and if carried out in good faith, may open up channels of communications that were clogged before. By allowing some extra visitation time, the custodial parent may also be building a reservoir of favors she can call in at a later time – for example, if she needs to request an extra day or two to take the child on an extended vacation.

Perhaps most importantly, once parents begin to “massage” and “tweak” the visitation schedule on their own, without filing a motion or a petition in court, they have made a major step toward reclaiming personal control over their children’s lives (reclaiming it from the judicial system, that is).

If the custody case remains contentious, then the custodial parent still has a tactical benefit she can employ when the non-custodial parent complains about her alienating behaviors. “That’s not the least bit true, your honor,” says the custodial parent. “In fact, as the court can see, I invited the child’s father to take the child for unscheduled visitations on at least six occasions last year…six times that I wasn’t ordered to do so, simply so that father and son could spend some quality time together.”

Have any custodial or non-custodial parents dealt with this situation?

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