Needing to see your ex every few days because you share custody can be miserable. They may take every opportunity they can to pick a fight with you or try to ruin your day. They may ignore your children or bring them back late, disturbing your household routine and their sleep schedule.
You may sometimes want to fight back against their behavior or just spend a few more days without interacting with them. Although you may feel tempted to make up an excuse and cancel their parenting time, doing so could actually put your parental rights at risk.
The Texas courts expect you to cooperate
If you look through the Texas statutes on child custody, you will see that the law essentially requires that parents cooperate with one another and communicate honestly with each other about their children. Parents have a right to time with their children and to accurate information about them. They should also have a say in major decisions unless the custody order explicitly allocates legal custody to only one parent.
When one parent violates the custody order and does not honestly communicate with the other or deprives the other parent of access to the children, that can influence how the courts view them in the future. Especially if they engage in a pattern of denying parenting time or speaking poorly of their ex in front of the children, they may be at risk of the other parent accusing them of intentional parental alienation.
Parental alienation claims can lead to a modification hearing where your ex presents a laundry list of complaints, including a list of every time you canceled their visits, shortened their parenting time or wouldn’t let them talk to the children on the phone.
If courts determined that you have intentionally interfered in the other parent’s relationship with the children and tried to damage it, they could make major changes to your parenting plan. They would likely reduce your parenting time to reflect how you seem to have failed to put the children’s needs first. As frustrating as it can be, cooperating with your ex is the best way to protect you own parental rights unless they do something that endangers your children.
Understanding what choices can have negative consequences for parents with shared custody can help you focus on your family’s long-term needs after a divorce.