Telephone Access: How Much Time, And How Often?

Obviously, what’s “reasonable” for one situation may not be reasonable for someone else’s situation. Both parents should work to be flexible and accommodating regarding telephone contact. Two to four times a week for 15 to 30 minutes at a time is pretty typical, although you need to take into account the child’s age- younger children often lose interest quickly and may not want to talk on the phone as long as older children do (again, this varies widely with the child). Work with your ex to establish agreed-upon times that you or they can call the children. A balance must be struck in terms of access that both parties can live with.

Due to each parent’s differing work schedule and outside activities, regular telephone contact may be difficult to arrange. Cell phones are an ideal way to ensure that calls to and from children don’t get lost in the shuffle. Answering machines and voice mail factor into the equation as well- if one parent leaves a message on the other parent’s answering machine, the parent getting the message has the responsibility and the obligation to allow the child or children to hear the message.

Some non-custodial parents will misuse telephone access in the form of a control issue or ‘power-play’. They may insist on calling every single night, or 3 or 4 times a day- an excessive amount in most instances. (Custodial parents may do this as well.) On the other hand, it is a common occurrence for custodial parents to interfere with the non-custodial parent’s phone contact with the child. These kinds of issues occasionally find their way into court, oftentimes to little or no effect. Judges dislike dealing with these kinds of low-level disputes, and many consider it a waste of their time. In short, it is rarely worth the cost in time and money to engage in formal litigation over telephone contact issues.

If your ex is unreasonable or interferes with your telephone access, you will need to be a little more creative and find ways of ensuring telephone contact.

Categories: Divorce Articles.