When you share parenting time with your ex, you understandably may want to maintain some line of communication with your child during your ex’s parenting time, especially if you or your ex have an extended period of parenting time. You may wonder if you have the right to text your child when they are with your ex.
Refer to Your Custody Agreement/Order
First, you should review your custody agreement or order to determine whether you may text your child during your ex’s parenting time. Your agreement or order may expressly prohibit you and your ex from calling or texting your child during the other’s parenting time. If you are barred by your agreement or order from texting your child during your ex’s parenting time, it goes without saying that you should not do so.
On the other hand, the agreement or order may specify how you and your ex may contact your child during the other parent’s parenting time. For example, you and your ex may be required to contact your child only through certain methods, such as phone calls, video chat, text messages, or social media messages. The agreement or order may also limit the number of times that your child may be contacted during any period of parenting time or limit the hours when your child may be contacted.
Issues with Texting Your Child During Your Ex’s Parenting Time
Even if your custody agreement or order does not expressly prohibit or place limits on your ability to text with your child during your ex’s parenting time, you should be mindful of these things:
- Avoid the temptation to excessively text or call your child. This includes refraining from calling or texting during times when your child (or your ex if you call or text your child through your ex’s phone) is likely preoccupied, such as during mealtimes or when your child should be doing homework.
- If you text or call your child through your ex’s phone, you may decide to get your child their own cell phone. Even if you simply want to avoid tying up your ex’s phone while you talk to your child, you should discuss the issue with your ex before you make a purchase.
- Do not try to pressure your child to divulge information about your ex, such as what your child and your ex do during their parenting time or whether your ex is dating anyone new.
- If you believe your ex is intentionally and unreasonably restricting your communication with your child (if communication is not prohibited or limited by your custody agreement or order), you should not try to take matters into your own hands to resolve the issue. Instead, inform your attorney who can handle the situation by contacting your ex and their legal counsel or advising the court and seeking a court order.
Tips for Communicating with Your Child When They Are with Your Ex
To help avoid you or your ex excessively communicating with your child during the other’s parenting time or to prevent one parent from feeling like the other is abusing their communication privileges, you could:
- Reach an agreement with your ex on a limit for reasonable communication with your child during the other parent’s parenting time. These limits can change as your children get older or as your custody arrangement changes over time. For example, you can agree that you and your ex can text or call your child every night between certain hours, with any texts or calls outside these times being considered excessive and subject to being ignored. This will not only help respect your and your ex’s time with your child but can also make sure that your child is not distracted during homework time or extracurricular activities.
- Consider using special applications to monitor or restrict communications if excessive calling or texting becomes a problem.
- If your child calls or texts you outside of times that you and your ex have agreed to, you should not ignore your child nor should you also engage in extended conversations in violation of your agreement with your ex. In addition, you should also inform your ex (through legal counsel if necessary) so that you can co-parent the issue.
Contact Us If You Have a Child Custody Issue or Dispute
If you have questions about your rights to contact your child during your ex’s parenting time, or if you feel that your ex is excessively or inappropriately contacting your child during your parenting time, call the Manhattan Beach child custody and visitation lawyers of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield at (310) 546-5858 or contact us through our website. You’ll get a confidential consultation where you can learn more about your legal rights and options.