Even after ending a tumultuous relationship involving mental or even physical abuse, Courts still award at least some visitation to the other party. Unfortunately, abusers will sometimes use a co-parenting situation to try and continue to exert control over their former spouse or partner. However, there are steps that can be taken to minimize confrontations and ensure the safety of everyone involved.
1. Choose a Designated Exchange Spot. The Court can order that visitation occur at a certain location- this does not necessarily need to be at a residence. In addition, certain counties will also have what are called safe zones for custody exchanges. For example, in Chesterfield County, there is a “blue zone” outside of the courthouse where parties can meet. There are cameras monitoring all activity.
2. Bring a friend or relative to the exchange. We often advise clients if they feel uncomfortable meeting the other parent to bring another person to the visitation exchange. At a minimum, this will at least bring another set of “eyes” if there are any issues.
3. Have a list of potential supervisors before you come to court. If you are requesting that the court award supervised visitation, come up with a list of several individuals who you think will be agreeable to both you and the other party. It is important to try and choose someone who is as neutral as possible. If you’re unable to select a person to supervise the visitation, there are companies that will provide these type of services. In the Richmond area, there is a company of retired sheriffs who will provide supervision for a fee.
4. Minimize interaction with effective electronic communication. If it is difficult to communicate or co-parent with the other parent, there are options to try and minimize (although not entirely eliminate) verbal or text based communication. Here are several good programs to share information with the other parent:
A. My Family Wizard or AppClose: These are programs that document correspondence between the parties, allow for a shared calendar, and grant permissions to both parents to edit documents concerning the children. This information can be shared with third parties such as grandparents as well.
B. Google Calendar: Google has a free program called Google Calendar which allows for both parties to share events.
C. School based programs: Many schools have an online system to share information. Both parents should have access to this and be checking it regularly.
5. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. An abusive relationship takes its toll psychologically and emotionally. There many support groups and counseling options out there- make sure you avail yourself of these. If you want to be there for your children, you have to make your mental health a priority.
For more information about any of the above, or for any family law, criminal law or personal injury matter, please contact the firm.
This post is provided as an educational service and should not be construed as legal advice. Readers in need of assistance with a legal matter should retain the services of competent counsel.