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How to share custody with a parent you do not trust

People get divorced for any number of reasons, from adultery and loss of intimacy to financial stress and feeling lost. Whatever the reasons may be for your divorce, it is very likely that there is going to be a loss of trust.

This loss of trust can present a serious problem when divorced spouses share custody of their children, which is usually the case. Most parents in Massachusetts will share custody after divorce, as state laws acknowledge that frequent and continued contact with both parents is often in the best interests of the child.

So what can you do if you do not trust the other parent of your child? Below are a few suggestions.

  1. Get everything in writing. Everything from your parenting plan to changes in pick-up times can be important to refer back to in the event of a fight. Having these things in writing can make it difficult for someone to lie about a particular exchange or decision.
  2. Stay connected (within reason). Make sure your kids know when and how they can contact you if they feel scared or unsafe. Ask them about their day and keep an eye out for concerning behavior, but don't use your kids to spy or tattle on their other parent. Stay focused on your relationship with your children and their physical and emotional well-being.
  3. Avoid badmouthing your ex to your kids. It might feel like you are protecting them by telling them about how much their other parent lies or cheats, but you could just be causing your kids additional pain and stress. Let them have and develop their own feelings about the other parent, and then be sure you are there for support when and if they get hurt.

These are some fairly simple ways to cover your bases and set the record straight. They may not make your ex more trustworthy, but they can help you feel that you and your kids are more protected.

If your concerns about an untrustworthy parent go beyond inconvenient or frustrating and make you legitimately worried about the safety of your children, then you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. You may need to have the courts modify your custody agreement or seek protection from law enforcement agents.

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