That’s the question facing a provider in North Dakota. One of her day care parents is separating and the mother will soon have joint custody of the child. The mother will have the child for one week and then the father will have the child for the next week.
The problem is that the mother has made false accusations against the provider in the past. None of the complaints have been founded. The mother causes a chaotic scene at pick up time in front of the other children as well as the parents who feel unsafe around the disruptive parent. The provider wants to keep the child in her care because she has been their only constant caregiver the past year. But she doesn’t want to deal with the mother who has caused so much turmoil.
What can the provider do?
A biological mother has rights to her child until a court takes away or restricts her rights. In this case when the mother gets joint custody she will have the right to drop off and pick up her child. The provider cannot refuse to give her the child at pick up time or treat her as a trespasser and call the police.
The provider can propose several alternatives to the mother:
* Ask the mother to wait in the car at pick-up time and the provider will bring the child to her
* Have another person pick up the child when it’s the mother’s week with the child
* Take the child to another location away from the home where the mother will pick up the child
* Take the child home to the mother
* Have the father always pick up and drop off the child
The provider can let the mother know that she may have to terminate care if some alternative solution is not reached. In the end, however, if the mother refuses to agree to a solution that is acceptable to the provider, the provider is left with two choices: allow the mother to pick up the child or terminate the agreement and refuse to provide care for the family. The mother does have the legal right to her child during her week the child is in her custody.
I’ve talked with many providers who find themselves in the middle of a bitter custody fight between the father and mother. The providers try hard to explain how the parent’s behavior is harming their child and making life difficult for others. Sometimes parents won’t listen to reason. When this happens providers must make a difficult decision.
How do you handle custody disputes with parents?
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: www.clintonmhancock.wordpress.com
For more information on custody disputes see my book Family Child Care Legal & Insurance Guide.