Parents today are learning how technology can provide a wealth of information about their child while outside of their sight.  Many electronic tools are extremely accessible, such as text and video messages sent instantly over cell phones, FaceTime, social media posts, and even video baby monitors that can be accessed from another room or through an app.  Some tools are more surreptitious, including tracking devices, remote location monitoring, Google glasses, recording “undercover” videos, or even turning on speaker phone when a child is talking to the other parent.  A client who wonders if their child is at the other parent’s home, as the other parent claims, can simply turn on a feature such as “Find My iPhone” and determine the location of the child’s cell phone that is presumably with the child.   

While technology may provide some clues about your child’s time in the care of the other parent, it may not be the whole picture.  There is no substitute for frequent and open communication if co-parenting is going to be successful.  Newly separated parents sometimes evaluate whether they can entrust the other parent to be alone with their child, before determining what kind of shared parenting time schedule is best.  Both parents should objectively understand that a certain amount of “fear of the unknown” is normal, and to calm those fears, parents should be open with each other about what the new living arrangements will be when the parents are not living together.

A parent has a reasonable expectation to know where their child is and if the environment is safe.  A parent who refuses to provide this information to the other parent out of spite or for claimed privacy reasons only creates distance and assumptions.  The sharing of information is important, and logically, a parent should be able to ask the other parent:

  • What is your address?
  • Will our child have his or her own bed?
  • Will there be other adults staying in the residence? Who are they?
  • Who will watch our child if you are at work?

            Family court judges are not pleased to hear about scenarios where parents interrogate their children when returning from the other parent’s home, but how can a parent know what is going on if there is no communication between the parents themselves? If the parent refuses to communicate with you and you are in the dark about the child’s living situation while in his or her care, get a court order requiring the disclosure of this information.  Absent safety and domestic violence concerns, parents should know each other’s addresses.  Schedule a regular time to talk each week about issues with the child that may arise, whether by phone, Skype, or in person, and when a child mentions something to one parent, go to the parent about it rather than relaying messages through the child. 

If you have any questions about custody or parenting time, please contact Wilson Law Group at 612.436.7100 for a free consultation.