October 21, 2021 | Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
When relationships breakdown and children get caught in the middle there has to be a way out. The solution is usually imposed on the parties by a so called neutral party. A Family Court or a Custody Court is asked to be an arbiter. The name of this body vary from country to country. In the final analysis it is said that it is the best interest of the child that is being catered to. Is this really so? We will explore.
Can the court be trusted to be really objective? Why should we trust them? The reality for many is that these courts seem to have their biases and in the end can infuriate one or both parties. Why not just toss a coin and let this method settle the matter. You can call it the luck of the draw.
There have been horror stories of an ex spouse trying to compete with the other to win over the favour of the child. It is like a tug and war event. Poor Suzie or Richard, hypothetical names just chosen for argument sake to bring over the point. There can be confusion and a messed up child who has no choice but to endure this mental torment which is said by society to be in the child’s best interest. Under normal circumstances one party would not even ride alone in an elevator with spouse X who is babysitting a Co-Parenting youngster.
“I would not want that beer drinking, chain smoking or weed puffing individual around my child. I am very upset”.
A forty five year old single dad lamented, leaving a Custody Court in New York, USA.
Then there is the situation of a friend relating to me in my investigation for this story of a Trucker in Canada, who refuses to be fully clad when his partner’s daughter comes for the weekend. The biological father has no power to change such an unhealthy situation.
A certain case of iPod use in a household that the Co-Parenting boy has to endure as related by a disgruntled biological mom. Is the court saying that this substance abuser, who now becomes the assistant parent of my child is fit and proper to have my child for say a weekend? A drug use/habit which can have deadly consequences for all parties involved is the sad reality. It is said: ” Children live what they learn.”
What is the Answer?
There seems to be no perfect solution to this potentially unfortunate state of affairs. Parents too often hate each other, yet the best interest of the child is being prescribed. This imperfect state of affairs is ultimately in whose best interests? That is the 64 million dollar question. The Custody Court says it has ruled in the best interest as they are limited as to what to do, but must act. They try to strike a balance.
A Disgruntled Father
Victor, not his right name, told me that his ex is pregnant with a child for her new man. His daughter goes to their house on some weekends and is burdened with household chores. His daughter is 13 and needs to spend adequate time studying. Victor, an executive in a small enterprise is very upset each time his daughter has to be dropped off. The child usually returns to him tired and hungry. My advice to the biological father is to send the child with a box of cooked food and groceries and keep in touch with his daughter over the weekend. It has worked and the issues are less stressful to his daughter and himself, he has since reported.
A three term MP currently serving in the Jamaican parliament was involved in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband. She took their child from overseas to Jamaica. The courts overseas had to order her to return the child to the father. It was costly and must have mentally scarred the child.
This was a nightmare for this father. The MP was forced to obey the court. It ended well. Some partner will stop at nothing to have their own way. What is your perspective on that MP’s conduct? You be the judge.
There is no silver bullet that will solve all the thorny issues of Co-Parenting. Try to obey the law even as you strongly believe this imposed arrangement is not in the best interest of you or your child. So sad, but for starters there is no better way. It is better than for some distraught partner to get upset and flee town and even go overseas as stated above, and you have to be worried where to make contact with your child.
This is a true story that sends shivers down my spine as a parent. Was this MP’s conduct in the best interest of the child? The final position on this thorny issue of Co-parenting is yours.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist and senior international journalist and parent of four girls. He writes for Vision newspaper.