Parenting Time: Keeping the Peace

What do you do when your child returns from a parenting time visit with troubling information about the household of your ex-spouse?

As family law attorneys, we help our clients make good decisions about custody, parenting time and parenting time plans. During the divorce process and after, information between parties — and between households — can cause difficulties when information is insufficient or inaccurate. How do you tell the difference?

A July article in the Star Tribune discusses a common event among divorced parents. Children moving between households share partial, or maybe too much, information, with the other parent. In the article, a stepchild is described as mentioning a stepmother with a potential drinking problem where none exists.

As an involved parent, you wonder what steps to take — if any — to respond to troubling information you hear from your child.

Before your react, think about these tips:

  • Consider the source: Children of all ages are capable of delivering highly colored information disguised as facts. While you have a responsibility to respond to disturbing information, you also have a responsibility to allow your child to speak their current truth without being triggered by it.
  • Listen: There are many reasons children pass on information about another household. Understand a need to vent, or praise, the other parent, or step-parent and hear them out without comment.
  • Act: If information you hear concerns you and you have reasonable supporting evidence, contact your ex-spouse and ask before you go further. Maintaining reasonable communication between households quickly sidelines questionable accusations of children in stressful situations and shows your child his or her parents remain united — even if they are no longer married.

If you have concerns about abuse, neglect or parenting time violations in Dakota or Washington counties, follow up promptly with qualified legal counsel.

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