Parenting Without Child Custody

Visitation and Contact It is very important that the term 'visitation' is replaced with 'contact'. This acknowledges the fact that people can keep in touch now without meeting, and this has been facilitated to a great extent by digital medium and its overall presence in our lives. Similarly, the word 'custody' is being replaced with 'address'. This indicates that the child would be sharing the same address physically with the parent concerned. Often, the beginning of this physical division is the first thing to create complications in the parent-child relation.

If a parent is normally irresponsible, all he or she has to do is not turn up anymore, or when convenient. This is hellish for the child, who lives in the expectation that mummy or daddy will come in any moment. On the other hand, if a parent wants to be vindictive, this is a golden opportunity to keep the child away from the partner who has lost the custody case.

The problem lies in the fact that adults often end up using the children as weapons against each other. In the bargain, their childhood gets butchered on the battle field of two immature adults. It is very important, in the light of all this, to develop a standard of contact between the parties, and then to strictly adhere to it. A Few Guidelines A few quick guidelines for parents who want to do a good job, even without custody:

  • Regularity ? As mentioned above, a serious parent would establish and maintain a set of rules concerning visitation.

    It is vitally important to visit the child regularly ? a let down can have far reaching consequences.

  • Internet ? Those who want to keep in touch, always can, and no distance is far enough if the heart is eager. The internet is an affordable and viable way of maintaining contact, and a child would actually feel more comfortable conversing in the informality of a chat room.
  • Involvement ? Just knowing the child's activities is not enough, one needs to keep abreast with all that's happening. It would be unforgivable if the best friend's name is mistaken, or the parent fails to turn up on the day of the big match.

  • No revenge ? The children are neither spies nor weapons as far as the ex is concerned.
  • Friendship ? For a growing child, a friendship is a better idea than a typical parent-child relation. A child always needs a confidante figure in his or her life. When a parent is not there to do this duty, the child would try to look for an alternative. This might result in something as harmless as talking to a doll to something potentially dangerous like getting involved in a gang.

  • 'Family time' ? It is no more possible to have a meal together every day, or watch the favourite television programmes together. But it is possible to go away on a little weekend trip every month, if one plans for it. The child would require these little attentions. And a good parent would find time for it, no matter what his or her legal status is.

  • The correct mementos ? A child understands emotions that are genuine. Buying armloads of expensive gifts would just not do. But a few photographs of the vacation together or one well chosen gift at Christmas will be treasured forever.
Coming To Terms If a parent feels aggrieved with the law, and believes that injustice has been done to him or her, there are ways to fight back. This should ideally happen within a court or a counsellor's office. The child should not pay for this.

Once the parent who has not got custody learns to accept it, a way can be worked out. Whatever happens, the child should not be the greatest loser in a game where he or she had no say ? that is the greatest injustice.

James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. For more information about using online services to get a Divorce see

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