Custodial parents have a lot of power over their children. Not only do they oftentimes dictate where the child will live, but they can also manipulate what information the child receives and who has contact with the child. In other words, the custodial parent is oftentimes a gatekeeper. This can have a tremendous impact on you as a noncustodial parent, as well as your relationship with your child.
How parental gatekeeping works
Parental gatekeeping can take many forms, and it can be used as a manipulation tactic to distance a child form his or her other parent. For example, a custodial parent may neglect or refuse to inform a custodial parent about a child’s extracurricular activities or medical conditions. Then, when the noncustodial parent doesn’t show up at an extracurricular activity or medical appointment, the child is led to believe that the noncustodial parent’s failure to appear is indicative of his or her lack of care for the child. A custodial parent may also refuse access to the child, then blame the noncustodial parent for the limited contact.
Not all gatekeeping is intentionally harmful to the child and the noncustodial parent. Sometimes the custodial parent takes these actions out of a sincere belief that he or she knows what’s best for the child. They oftentimes fear that the noncustodial parent’s involvement in the child’s life will be detrimental, so they think that they are actually protecting their child by serving as an aggressive gatekeeper.
Protect your parental rights
Yet, you have rights as a noncustodial parent. If there’s a custody and visitation order in place, then the custodial parent needs to stick to it. The onus is on you, though, to hold the custodial parents’ feet to the proverbial fire. This may mean taking legal action in the form of a contempt or modification proceeding. If you’d like more about how to pursue those options, then please consider reaching out to a firm that is experienced in this area of the law.