“Parental Gatekeeping” might not be an everyday word for intact families, but it does impact and come into play fairly often in child custody cases.
What is “Parental Gatekeeping”?
Parental Gatekeeping is the act of facilitating and/or restricting the relationship one parent has with a child. When a parent is restrictive with parental gatekeeping they often place limitations on communication or access to the child. This is often done for the child’s protection in cases where there has been physical abuse, neglect, or substance abuse.
Gatekeeping can also be done for unreasonable reasons – as an attempt to harm the relationship between a child and the second parent. This can be done in all forms – verbally attacking the other parent, restricts communication between the parent and child, or restricts the time the parent is allowed with the child, or purposefully tries to destroy the relationship the child has with the other parent. When this is done, a certain question arises – is the parent doing the gatekeeping just as dangerous as the other parent? And if this is the case, should that parent also lose custody rights? This can get tricky when it comes to child custody law – especially since states like California do not have specific family codes that punish this type of gatekeeping.
Parenting time, lack of co-parenting, as well as false allegations surrounding parental care all play into custody cases. But oftentimes judges do not take all of this into consideration in equal ways. The undefined nature of “parental gatekeeping” needs to be taken into further consideration. In litigious divorce and child custody cases it can be difficult for a judge to get a full vision of the child’s life. A court will always rule in the best interest of the child, and will base its decision on numerous factors.
Source: Huffington Post, Are Child Custody Laws That Treat Parental Gatekeeping Like Child Abuse Long Overdue?, August 12, 2014
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