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Challenges that Single Parents Face

The “best interests of the child” is a legal term you often hear during divorce. Courts in Texas heavily weigh the child’s best interests when arriving at decisions for parenting.

In fact, the Texas Family Code (Title 5) states: “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.” Conservatorship and possession refer to child custody and time spent with the parent.

In most cases, the court has found that it is in the child’s best interest to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. This is true as long as the parents have shown their ability to act in the child’s best interests.

What If Your Child Doesn’t Want to Spend Time with the Other Parent?

A child’s refusal can be problematic. And, forcing your child into visitation can create even more stress. It also can make parents suspicious of each other. Why doesn’t the child want to spend time with the other parent? Is a parent doing something to cause this reaction?

However, suspicion isn’t always warranted. In addition, suspicion can make matters worse. Sometimes, visitation simply reminds a child that their parents are divorced. And, divorce is a painful memory for some kids. The upset over divorce may be the reason your child is balking at visitation.

Sometimes children don’t like a new environment. If your child doesn’t like the other parent’s new house or apartment, perhaps other locations for visitation will solve the problem.

What Should You Do?

The most important thing is to make sure that you’re not doing or saying anything that is contributing to the problem. For example, you shouldn’t talk to your kids about how your ex is causing or caused stress in the marriage. Nor should you make critical remarks about your ex or soon-to-be ex. Doing so can influence your child’s outlook.

There’s a term for actions and talk that alienate a child from the other parent. It is “parental alienation.” Parental alienation is psychological manipulation of a child. It involves saying and doing things that lead the child to look unfavorably on one parent or the other.

Courts take issue with parental alienation. The parent causing parental alienation could lose custody rights. Or, the parent may lose the opportunity to gain custody.

What Actions Can You Take that Are in the Best Interests of the Child?

Positive actions you can take are to communicate with your ex and your child and keep the other parent involved. Set aside time to talk with your child and stay in good communication. Really listening to your child and trying to understand the child’s point of view can help overcome obstacles.

Sometimes, therapy can help. You can learn how not to put the burden of divorce on your children and find ways to deal with divorce constructively.

Are You Facing Child Custody Issues?

Attorney Thomas Little can answer your questions about child custody. He can also answer any other questions and help you start making the right decisions.