Friday, May 5, 2017

Why some Parents Should be Non Custodial Parents

On my business card is the statement, "Child custody decisions are not about the law, but are judgments based upon parenting skills and behaviours." This is the axiom to which I hold and is why I provide behavioural therapy designed to strengthen the parent-child relationship, mitigate conflict between parents, and demonstrate parental fitness to judicial officers.

In over ten years of doing this I have had the opportunity to encounter many parents and serve the needs of quite a few. As the motivations of parents seeking my help are quite broad and the requests far exceed my availability I first require the completion of an application for services. On the application I ask for the contact information of a person making a referral. I do this so that an attorney, other MHP, or professional who has had an opportunity to interact with this parent can attest to his or her credibility. This is followed by an extensive questionnaire and then an initial interview. Few people make it past the application process.

The most common basis for not providing services is a parent's failure to complete the application process. Then there are those who are not motivated to serve the best interest of their child but are instead seeking an additional resource whom can assist in their war with the other parent. Some are so hostile and self-centered that they clearly should not be a custodial parent and supervised parenting time may be appropriate. It is this type of person which is my focus in this posting.

The Indiana Code[fn1] provides that judicial officers consider what is commonly referred to as "the eight factors" when making child custody decisions. Those are;
(1) The age and sex of the child.
(2) The wishes of the child's parent or parents.
(3) The wishes of the child, with more consideration given to the child's wishes if the child is at least fourteen (14) years of age.
(4) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with:
(A) the child's parent or parents;
(B) the child's sibling;  and
(C) any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests.
(5) The child's adjustment to the child's:
(A) home;
(B) school;  and
(C) community.
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved.
(7) Evidence of a pattern of domestic or family violence by either parent.
(8) Evidence that the child has been cared for by a de facto custodian, and if the evidence is sufficient, the court shall consider the factors described in section 8.5(b) of this chapter.
In addition to these factors there is another which I have found through my discussions with them that most judges include. This is the general demeanor or personality of a parent.

Parents who demonstrate hostility in any forum, contemptuousness for the court or its processes, score keeping, or a generally negative attitude are viewed with disfavour by the court. What I intend in saying score keeping is those parents who measure financial outlays, transgressions, and calculate parenting time methodically without giving consideration to the welfare of the child.

In one case I saw a parent come into court after filing a Motion for Rule to Show Cause alleging among other things that the custodial parent had failed to provide clothing with the child[fn2] when sending the child for parenting time with the NCP. The judge was not pleased and did not find the custodial parent in contempt. While technically a violation of the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and subsequently the court's order when incorporated it amounted to petty score keeping.

In another instance a parent filed for a modification of custody based nearly entirely upon unfavourable behaviours by the custodial parent. Inclusive in the motion were allegations relating back to marital infidelity and other acts violating societal norms. What this father failed to do was demonstrate what had changed since the last custody order was issued and, more importantly, what he had done to improve himself and the opportunities he could provide for the child. What she did bad didn't make him better and again that type of attack is looked upon with disfavour.

As for an example of hostility I have the resource of my Facebook page and the contributions from Tami Sensmeier. Her comments were left under posts which I had made. Here they are;

Tami Sensmeier who gives a shit you two faces bastard

Tami Sensmeier yeah, ur full of shit, thatks for calling me back asshole

And from 04 May 2017 - Tami Sensmeier shut the fuck up shitbag, thanks for NEVER CALLING ME after ive left your sorry ass 15,000 messages

These comments are available to the public. I have no privacy restrictions on my page and my friends list is largely populated by parents involved in child custody cases. Sometimes both parents access my page.

Now doubt those are the ravings of a hostile person. I never received an application from her. Thus, there was no basis for me to call. Imaging having this person as a parent. What does the child of this person endure when he or she doesn't perform a task when requested. Imagine what a judge would think when he or she sees it. In a child custody proceeding it is relevant [see factor 6]. I long ago wrote about Social Networking sites making their way into the Courtroom and cautioned parents about what they post.

Whether a behaviour is directed to or involves the child is of no moment when a judicial officer is developing an opinion about the personality of a parent and the impact it may have upon a child. A judge seeing the words of Tami Sensmeier would rightfully conclude that this is a parent who is likely to berate a child and have a negative impact upon the child's emotional development and well-being. So I say it again; Child custody decisions are not about the law, but are judgments based upon parenting skills and behaviours.

1] Indiana Code - Paternity 31-14-13-2; Divorce 31-17-2-8
2] IPTG Section I(B)(3)

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©2008, 2014 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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