Can I Text My Child While They’re with My Ex?

Full length portrait of schoolboy sitting alone in corner and using smartphone - text my child while they’re with my ex concept
Frequent communication between a parent and child can help ensure they build a strong and healthy bond. Significantly, texting is a way children can remain in regular contact with their parents — regardless of the relationship their parents have with each other. If you share parenting responsibilities with your ex after you’ve divorced or parted ways, you may be wondering, “can I text my child while they’re with my ex?”

Can I Text My Child While They’re with My Ex?

When parents no longer live together, each will spend time away from their children. Unfortunately, divorce or separation often means that one parent may have less parenting time than the other. But parents have the legal right to foster a relationship with their children, even if they live apart. Courts recognize that it is generally in a child’s best interests to maintain a strong connection with each parent — unless a court has ruled that one parent is unsafe for the children. If there is no court order that says how you can communicate with your child, you can text or call your child while they’re with your ex. In addition, your ex can also text your child when they are spending time with you. However, you should always not use texting your child as a tool to interrupt the time your child is spending with their other parent.

Is Texting Included in a Child Custody Order?

If you are questioning, “can I text my child while they’re with my ex?” it’s best to review your child custody order. Sometimes your parenting plan order will address whether you are allowed to text during the other parent’s parenting time. Sometimes, the parenting plan order will say how you and your ex are allowed to communicate with your child. Reading that parenting plan order is the best place to start. Depending on the circumstances, the parenting plan might also limit the number of times you may contact your child while your ex has parenting time — or the hours they may be contacted. For example, if excessive communications are an issue, it may be best to enter into an agreement with, or ask the court to order, your ex to limit them. Notably, these limits can change as your child gets older or your custody order is modified. You might also consider including a provision in your custody order to use certain apps if texting during parenting time becomes a problem. If there are no provisions regarding texting in your parenting plan and you believe your ex is trying to restrict communications — or their texting is unreasonably interfering with your parenting time — it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options. It’s best to resolve such issues outside of court using the mediation process. However, if you are unable to settle the matter with your ex, it may be necessary to have a judge determine the outcome.

Tips for Texting Your Child

Co-parenting isn’t always easy. Even when parents get along, texting or calling when the other is spending time with the child can sometimes create hostility. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a parent to feel frustrated if the other is constantly texting their child while they have parenting time. Here are some tips for texting with your child when they are with your ex that can help maintain an friendly co-parenting relationship:
  • Set a specific time for communication — Consider establishing a set time each day when your child will check in with the other parent by phone or text.
  • Be mindful of your ex’s parenting time — Respect the time your child has with your ex. For instance, don’t text your child when you know they are eating dinner, doing homework, or attending a special event with their other parent.
  • Don’t say disparaging things about your ex — You should never make negative comments to your child about your ex, in person or through text. Always keep the conversation positive if it relates to the other parent. Not only can making disparaging remarks damage your child’s relationship with their other parent, but they can be used against you in a custody dispute.
  • Don’t use your child to communicate with your ex — Don’t text your child simply to communicate with your ex through them. Instead, consider using a parenting app or a shared calendar to discuss custody matters with your ex when necessary.
  • Be flexible — Be prepared to adjust your communications schedule on weekends or during the holidays in order to be more flexible.
Importantly, texting does not replace face-to-face video calls, phone conversations, or spending time with your child in person. But while distance, work schedules, and school schedules might not allow you to have as many opportunities to spend time with your child as you would like, texting can help ensure you maintain regular contact and feel connected.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Family Law Attorney

If you have questions regarding child custody and whether you can text your child while they are with your ex, a skillful family law attorney can provide you with the counsel you need. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides compassionate representation and skillful advocacy for a wide variety of family law matters, including those involving parenting time, throughout Oregon. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.
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