Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.
WEST CALDWELL
973-200-4892
JERSEY CITY & BAYONNE
201-793-7739

Toxic personalities can spark co-parenting challenges

There are many reasons people in New Jersey and elsewhere get divorced. When you filed a petition, you may have done so after a crisis event in your marriage or perhaps after a long period of issues building up between you and your spouse that you determined you were not able to resolve. Either way, while you are severing the ties of your personal relationship, you understood from the start that you'll always have a connection with your ex as co-parents.

The fact that your partner in parenting has a toxic personality may have you more than a bit concerned. It's understandable, as many people in similar situations have wound up in contentious courtroom battles when the co-parents with toxic personalities have caused child custody problems or have tried to impede the child/parent relationships of the other parents involved. To avoid such problems, it's critical to understand how to protect and exercise your rights, especially if your ex refuses to adhere to a court order.

You don't have to be a victim of toxicity

During your marriage, you may have overlooked many faults or tried to rise above unfair treatment because, at the time, you thought that's what was best for your family. As a divorced parent, you have the right to set boundaries and to specify terms by which you can protect yourself from your ex's toxic behavior.

For instance, if he or she shows up unannounced on your door step to stir up trouble, you can seek modification of your parenting agreement so that there are instructions regarding when he or she may or may not visit.

Correspondence doesn't have to mean in-person conversations

In a particularly volatile situation, you may think it best to avoid seeing your ex in person. As co-parents, you must interact; however, there is no law in New Jersey or anywhere that says your interaction must take place face-to-face. Advanced technology provides many additional means of communication.

You can limit your discussions with your ex to topics having to do with your children only. You can also specify that you prefer such discussions to take place through text messaging, email or video chat. This type of correspondence leaves you more control if an issue escalates into a problem situation.

Both parents must adhere to an existing court order

If you already have a court order that says your ex may come to your house every other weekend to pick up and drop off the kids, then you must obey its terms. However, if you believe your current agreement should change and can show the court evidence of need, you may request modification of the court order.

Parents who have their children's best interests in mind understand the importance of being willing to cooperate with each other and to be flexible regarding their child custody or visitation schedule. If your ex simply refuses to adhere to the terms of your agreed-upon parenting plan or has taken steps to try to alienate your children from you, you may take immediate steps to protect your rights and rectify the situation through the family justice system.

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