In August, I wrote about the Parent that Used to Be Absent. This is a follow up article to that post about re-establishing parenting time and what to realistically expect when trying to do so.
Often I speak with a parent that hasn’t seen their child in a long period of time, for whatever reason, but wants to get back in touch and re-establish parenting time. It may be that the parent never established a relationship with the child at birth but not is in a position to do so. It may have been that the parent had his or her own things going on that had to be addressed. It may be that the other parent made things so difficult during parenting time that he had given up on seeing the child. It may be that the parent didn’t have transportation, was ill or had family issues that kept him/her from the child. Whatever the case, if that parent seeks to re-establish parenting time, and there is no good cause to keep him or her from doing so, the Court will allow the parent and child to begin parenting time.
The most important thing to understand is that if there was no prior relationship, or if there has been a large gap in time during which you did not see the child, you cannot simply jump right back into a large amount of parenting time with him or her. There should be a “warming up period” with the child during which you have parenting time in short, regular visits and you have a chance to get re-acquainted and rebuild the trust of a parent-child bond. You will need to create a schedule that allows a re-introduction and slowly builds back up to whatever you have as an end goal for parenting time. This will make the transition smooth for the child. It will likely remove any ability for the other parent to say that things are not going well because it is too overwhelming, too soon, etc. If you go into this understanding that, I think that you will have a realistic expectation of what should happen.
What you think is a “warming up period” for parenting time will likely differ from what the other parent, or even the Court, feels is a proper period. It’s best to consult with an attorney that has experience with such cases and knows what the Court will accept as a proper schedule for parenting time in this situation, particularly if you expect that the other parent with resist your efforts to obtain parenting time. If you find yourself in this situation, please call me to discuss your case. We will work together to build a plan that re-establishes your parenting time with your son or daughter and puts you on the right track for success.