In helping people negotiate child custody and visitation schedules, I’ve come to see a pattern express itself in terms of parents’ desire for their children to have equal access to both parents.

The moment I see resistance to equal access to both parents based on what a parent “may” do without any history of doing that which is predicted, then I know I’m probably dealing with control issues having nothing to do with the best interest of the child.

Abuse Is about Control

It’s no secret that abuse is about control, even when there are no other visible signs of physical or verbal battering. Willfully interfering with a child’s access to the other parent because of one’s own personal issues, irrespective of the child, is a violation to the child as well as to the other parent.

We often see this pattern in families of domestic abuse in which the un-empowered (victimized) parent desires a fair and equitable split of parenting, custody and visitation, barring abuse to the child. And the empowered, controlling parent seeks to restrict equal access between the other parent and the child.

This pattern is so common that one can pretty much expect to see it in families of domestic violence when child custody and visitation rights are up for consideration. When parties are unable to reach an agreement and a dispute ensues, you will usually see the controlling parent seeking full custody and restricted visitation.

What’s less obvious is when the control dynamics reveal themselves by virtue of this failed negotiation. I recommend that one see the pattern for what it is, not for what it is sold as being. More than likely it’s not about the best interest of the child; it’s about the interest of the controlling parent.

Author's Bio: 

For more information about domestic violence and child custody, check out Legal Domestic Abuse: How to Successfully Navigate the System, before the control issues spiral out of control. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court.

© 2009 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Abuse Prevention and Intervention