Ghost: When Your Co-Parent Disappears

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today we will be discussing what to do when your co-parent disappears.

Defining Co-Parent Disappearance

Sometimes your co-parent is very active in raising your child and other times they are completely not there. For example, they may be on active duty out of the country, or they may have taken some type of work requests and they are out of the state. Other times, they may still live exactly where they lived before, but they are no longer willing to participate in your child’s life. That is what we like to call a co-parent disappearance.

Seeking to Establish or Modify Custody Order

If your co-parent has essentially disappeared and you currently have a child custody order in place, it is very important that you get a modified custody or support order. It’s important because your support may be based on a certain amount of overnight access with your child, a certain amount of parenting time that is just not currently taking place. The amount of support your co-parent may be required to pay may increase because they are no longer sharing parenting time with your children. Further, if you have a custody order in place and your co-parent is essentially not abiding by that at any point they may choose to restart the order or restart their access and that might not be where your family currently is or your family may not actually be able to deal with that type of schedule. So, it’s important that you get the order modified so that it can accurately reflect what is going on with your family and what your family needs.

Seeking to Establish or Modify Child Support

If your co-parent disappears it’s important for you to modify child support. It’s important because your current custody order or your current child support order may be based on the fact that your co-parent is having a certain amount of shared access with your children, or you may not even have a child support order because the access was very consistent. You may have been sharing equally parenting time and now that that’s completely gone or has changed the amount of support you may need for your children may have increased, so it’s important if your co-parent is no longer actively participating or actively sharing parenting time that you establish a child support order to make sure that they are sharing the financial burden with you or modify the child support order so that they are accurately sharing the correct amount of support they need to make sure that your child is okay.

Can you force your co-parent to share time with your children?

No, you cannot force your co-parent to share time with your children. The court tends to be less inclined to require that a parent that doesn’t want to spend time or has shown that they don’t want to spend time with their children, making them do so is not necessarily in your child’s best interest. Even if it makes more sense for you to have your co-parent share time with your children, the court will not force them to spend time with them. So, you may need to seek alternatives in light of the fact that your co-parent will not be forced to share parenting time.

If you have any questions regarding child custody modification or Child Support Enforcement when your co-parent has essentially disappeared, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.