Do you stop your childrens' father from spending time with your kids? Do you introduce yourself as a single mom even though your ex would like to be a part of the kids’ lives? If this is you, you just may be a gatekeeper mom.
Now, the words ‘gatekeeper mom’ are likely to make you think of a heavily armed mom, standing with arms folded in front of a locked gate that has a kid behind it with a look that says “feeling lucky punk?”. That’s not it exactly but hold that thought.
The term ‘gatekeeper mom’ is used to describe mothers that attempt to deny or control their kids’ time with the other parent. It is usually brought up in child custody cases especially where the father is suing to get more time with the kids.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with a mom trying to protect her kids. Every mom has that right. You are not obligated to let your children stay with your ex if you reasonably believe that they have a problem that can result in harm to the kids.
If your ex has substance abuse, drinking or other social and mental problems, then you are absolutely justified in refusing to allow them spend time with that ex. It’s legitimate to refuse a father that simply chose to stay away for the first 5-10 years of the kids’ lives and then suddenly shows up wanting half the time with the kids.
However, denying your ex time with the children on unreasonable grounds is unjustifiable. Knowing that your ex is around and willing to spend time with the kids but representing him to the kids as being unwilling is totally unreasonable. In this instance, gatekeeping is not very good.
The position under Florida law is in favor of equal parenting. The law recognizes the right of the father to be involved in the life of his kids just as much as it recognizes the mother’s right to same.
Florida law is very heavy on ensuring that kids have the attention of both parents. Due to this, the courts also use a pretty heavy hand on parents that try to alienate the other parent from the child’s life.
Under the law and in custody cases, both parents are entitled to up to half of the kids’ time. So, hogging all that time and alienating the other parent for no good reason is unjust in the eye of the law.
If your kid(s) was born out of wedlock, then you have no problem under the law. This means if you and your ex were not married at the time the kid was born, the law does not recognize the right of your ex to be involved in the child’s life.
Until he goes and establishes paternity, he has no rights to access, time and even decisions on the child’s life.
But in every other situation where you and your ex had a divorce, the law says that your ex has a right to as much time with the kid as you do. And if you try to deny them time with the kids or alienate them without good reason, then you are on the wrong side of the law.