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My child's other parent does not spend enough time with the child

It can be frustrating when you share joint custody of your child or have limited visitation rights and the other parent does not spend enough time with the child. It is time you wish you could have with the child instead.

Common scenarios in which this can occur with joint custody situations: Your co-parent often leaves the child in the care of a babysitter, romantic partner or grandparent; your co-parent spends much of his or her time on the phone instead of focusing on the child; or your co-parent lets your child stay in his or her room a lot. In a situation where you have limited visitation, this scenario could include all the above plus others, such as boarding school, camps and the like. Can you do anything about it?

Re-evaluating parental responsibility options

If you share joint custody, it may be best to do nothing legal (that said, it never hurts to consult with a lawyer to get other opinions). The reasoning for leaving the situation alone is that children benefit when both parents are involved in their lives, and it can be harmful to try to limit your child's time with the other parent. After all, from the other parent's perspective, you could also be doing things indicative of not spending enough time with your child. One approach is to suggest the right of first refusal, meaning if the co-parent makes plans that do not involve the child, you have the right of first refusal as to babysitting. You can get this added to the parenting plan. If you are still going through the divorce process, this provision is good to include from the beginning, if possible.

If you have limited visitation, you can meet with a lawyer to explore joint custody options. For example, if the other parent has the majority of the time with the child because you had an addiction you have since overcome and it has been a few years, you could have a good case for joint custody.

In either case, a frank discussion with the other parent about your concerns and why the parent has made the choices he or she did seems to be in order. Avoid casting judgment and blame. For example, boarding school can be a great choice for many kids.

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