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Making Joint Custody Work

Making Joint Custody Work

Developing a joint child custody arrangement that works for both parents is never an easy task. It takes a lot of coordination of schedules and management of each parent’s needs, combined with ensuring the children’s needs are met.

When you have a joint custody arrangement finalized, there are some steps you can take to make sure it works for the long term so that you don’t have to constantly renegotiate the terms of the agreement. The following are a few tips:

  • Be kind: Never badmouth your former spouse or partner. The things you say will be internalized by your children, and it is unfair to kids for you to say things that could potentially damage their relationship with their mother or father. Keep your negative feelings to yourself when around your children.
  • Remember that custody is not about you: Custody is about the children. You should always make the children the focus, rather than your ability to “win” them or their time. You and the other parent must remember to put aside your egos for the good of the kids.
  • Be realistic and open about your schedule: As much as you might love to be with your children on certain days or for a certain percentage of the time, you also have to be realistic about your own schedule and commitments. If there are certain commitments you simply cannot sacrifice, you should be open about this when developing a custody arrangement.
  • Figure out the best way to communicate: Communication is crucial for joint custody to work. Find a method of communication that works for you, whether it’s via phone, texting, Google Drive, online calendars or any other platform that you both will use.

When Is Parental Kidnapping Legal?

Parental kidnapping can involve snatching a child and fleeing the country with the intention never to return, deliberately failing to return a child on time to a custodial parent, and everything in between. Parental kidnapping is the deliberate violation of a custody order. It need not involve violence, threats or even removal of the child to a different location. Simply frustrating the custodial parent’s efforts to exercise rightful custody is a crime, and parents who commit parental kidnapping face serious consequences including jail time — unless, of course, that kidnapping is legal.

But when is a crime legal? When an old legal principle called necessity comes into play, justifying an illegal act as necessary to prevent something even worse from happening. The defense of necessity has four parts:

  • The harm the accused sought to prevent is worse than the prohibited act he committed.
  • No reasonable alternative existed at the time.
  • The accused ceased the prohibited conduct as soon as the danger passed.
  • The accused did not create the danger he sought to avoid.

Courts recognize necessity as justification for parental kidnapping under very limited circumstances that create an immediate need to keep the child away from the custodial parent. For example, if your child tells you about physical or sexual abuse, you can hold the child while you pursue an order of temporary emergency custody from the court. Or if you are dropping your child off at a neutral site and notice the custodial parent is intoxicated and incapable of driving, you are justified in holding onto him or her.

However, you must be aware that the court is going to scrutinize your actions very carefully. You must be prepared to show an immediate danger to your child’s health or safety and that you sought a legal remedy as quickly as possible.

Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer

If you have a question about child custody question or if you need to collect back child support, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506