No parent is perfect, but it can feel like you need to be if you are seeking parenting time and decision-making responsibilities after divorce or separation. However, the fact is that personal shortcomings and mistakes in your past do not automatically make you a bad parent.
That said, there are some factors that could compromise your rights as a parent.
- A history of family violence: Violent offences in your past could raise red flags in court.
- Substance abuse issues: These can include an addiction to drugs, alcohol or even gambling.
- Lack of an established relationship with your child: If you have never spent meaningful time with your child, the courts may not see you as an involved, caring parent.
- Significant travel duties and obligations: If you travel a lot for work or frequently take trips abroad, you may not be able to provide the stable living environment and care your child needs.
- Failure to provide appropriate supervision and guidance: Do you let your child use drugs? Do you look the other way when they skip school? Have you ignored their need for medical treatment?
Keep in mind that these and similar factors do not automatically make someone an unfit parent. However, they could be enough to reduce your time with your child because they can adversely affect your child’s safety and well-being.
What you can do
The best thing you can do if you are seeking more time with your child is to identify your issues and confront them. Depending on your challenges, this could involve:
- Seeking treatment for substance abuse
- Attending counselling or parenting classes
- Reducing travel obligations by securing a home near your child or finding a new job
- Making safe, healthy lifestyle choices
- Complying with existing orders or agreements regarding parenting time and access
These steps can improve your standing in the eyes of your child, their other parent and the courts.
Again, you do not need to be a perfect person or perfect parent. However, you do need to be someone who can and will protect your child’s best interests.