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'Parental gatekeeping' after divorce can harm the child

When parents in Texas divorce, it is not always a friendly case. Many times both parties harbor a great deal of anger and resentment towards each other, something that can eventually work its way into the parties' relationship with each other as parents. In the worst of scenarios, a concept some are calling "parental gatekeeping" takes place, adding more stress to an already heated situation.

Unfortunately, "parental gatekeeping" is an all-too-common situation. In general, what it refers to is one parent drastically restricting the child's access to the other parent, despite a custody and visitation schedule being in place. This can be much more than not timely honoring visitation pick up or drop off times. It includes disparaging the other parent, making scenes at drop off or pickup times, keeping the child away from the ex-spouse for weeks or months at a time and engaging in other alienating behaviors. Eventually the parent-child relationship between the noncustodial parent and the child has eroded so much, it may be irreversible.

There are some who claim that "parental gatekeeping" can be just as harmful as other forms of child abuse. Some people believe that there should be laws that address parental gatekeeping, in essence stating that a custodial parent who unreasonably restricts the child's access to the noncustodial parent in a manner that is not in the best interests of the child and has harmed the child's relationship with the noncustodial parent may face losing sole custody.

Of course, "parental gatekeeping" that keeps a child away from an abusive parent is not the same as preventing an otherwise healthy parent-child relationship from taking place. Still, it is important to remember that it is in the child's best interests for any existing custody and visitation agreements be honored. Children have the right to develop a loving relationship with both of their parents. This includes spending meaningful time with them, and having children keep in regular contact with the noncustodial parent through phone calls, emails and social networking sites. In the end, if the best interests of the child are kept at heart, it can go a long way towards helping that child move through the divorce in a healthy way.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Are Child Custody Laws That Treat Parental Gatekeeping Like Child Abuse Long Overdue?" B. Robert Farzad, Aug. 12, 2014

Source: The Huffington Post, "Are Child Custody Laws That Treat Parental Gatekeeping Like Child Abuse Long Overdue?" B. Robert Farzad, Aug. 12, 2014

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