Custody of a child is a sensitive issue for both the parents. Few parents are able to keep themselves neutral and do not let their strained relationship affect their children. In many of the cases the parent having the custody fights die hard to keep the child away from the non-custodian parent and resist the visitation rights to be given to the other parent and even play all sorts of tricks to disobey the orders and so that the child does not develop good relationship with the non-custodian parent. I have seen children are often used as a tool for causing maximum emotional damage to the other spouse. The other factor seen is insecurity as to, “what if my child agrees to go with his father/mother? then what about me? I can’t live without my child”.
As a practicing advocate, I have seen in many cases, husband / wife after separation from their spouse do not give priority to meet the child. Because of their hard egos and in their rage of avoiding the other spouse, taking steps to meet the child, who is in the custody of that other spouse, perhaps becomes a secondary thing over their other cases. Also there is a lurking fear that filing of petition for securing custody or visitation rights may trigger some criminal cases form the estranged spouse, particularly if the custodian parent is the wife. But if a parent really value his relationship with the child and things cannot be resolved out of court then, filing for custody or visitation along with interim visitation rights in the court becomes the only option, which should be resorted to as soon as possible when they realize that they are not being allowed to meet the child and out of court mediation efforts have failed. Not taking of early steps to meet the child proves fatal afterwards. And the result is brain washing by the parent who has the custody. I have seen parents who do not take immediate steps to be in touch with their child after separation from their spouse, they after some years though file for custody/visitation in the court, their children does not even want to call them papa/mama... such are the ill effects of mind poisoning done by the parent who has custody of the child and has hostility towards the other spouse. No court order can wash out the brain washing done over several months/years to the child and the child loses all the affection towards that other parent. I have seen parents (particularly fathers) with tearful eyes desperate to hear some words from their children during visitation hours, but the children just keep staring at the clock waiting to complete the formality of visitation. In such extreme cases the efforts of lawyers, court, mediators are rendered futile. A lawyer can only legally secure visitation rights, but to make the best use of that time spend with the child is in the hands of the parent only. When the interim visitation rights are secured, it is but natural that the child is already heavily tutored and is ‘acting upon the instructions’ of the parent with whom he is residing and is carrying an image of a ‘bad man/ bad woman’ about the estranged parent. So it becomes necessary that the time spend with the child should be made more meaningful by developing proper and effective communication with the child so as to develop a healthy normal relationship with him/her. Take the help of good books on child psychology and try to befriend the children so that they become comfortable in the company of their estranged parent and they can realize that the picture of an evil papa/mama painted by their mother/father is not true. So that during the final hearing when the court again interviews the child the child himself does not say ‘no’ to meet or live with his father/mother who is seeking visitation rights/custody and the parent child bond remains intact forever.
Adv. Archana Deshmukh