Divorce often turns people who used to love each other against one another. People do anything they can think of to punish their ex for the failure of the marriage. Some may go so far as to want to cut their spouse off from access to their children, in certain cases.
The person fighting shared custody may feel like that is the only real way to punish their spouse for how they behaved in the marriage. Unfortunately, in the end, it is their children, not their ex, who will suffer if one parent chooses to alienate their ex from the kids.
Parents could damage their own case for custody, as well as their relationship with the children. Even if you're in the middle of a custody disagreement about who sees the kids when, your ex should get to spend some time with the kids.
No matter how strongly you feel, denying court-ordered visitation is a mistake. While it may feel gratifying to hurt your ex in the short term by denying them holiday time with the children or sending them away when they show up for visitation, the long-term consequences can be serious.
Your kids will resent the isolation you create
Even if your children are young and agree with everything you say now, they will eventually resent the damage that you caused their relationship with the other parent. Unless your ex is abusive toward the children, having a relationship with their other parents is in the best interest of your children.
That relationship and the support it provides will help them recover from the trauma of the divorce as quickly as possible. It will also help them remain socially adapted and emotionally healthy as they mature.
Cutting your kids off from the other parent, on the other hand, can leave them feeling insecure and abandoned. That can have many different effects on their emotional and social health. They may avoid attachment to others, out of fear that the other person will eventually disappear. They could also start seeking the approval or love of others as a surrogate for the affection they don't get from the parent they miss. Neither of those situations is positive for you or for your child.
The courts frown on parental alienation
Intentionally cutting your children off from your ex is known as parental alienation. It is a known behavior common to divorce, and the courts consider it highly inappropriate. After all, it involves putting your personal feelings ahead of the needs of your children.
If your ex can show that you intentionally cut them off from court-ordered visitation without cause, that can impact how the courts rule in the final custody proceedings. Particularly in cases involving repeated denials of visitation or canceled weekends, intentional efforts to undermine the relationship of your ex with your kids will look bad to the courts and make them consider whether you are capable of retaining your current parental rights and responsibilities.
As you move through divorce, you should always put your children first. If you struggle to do so, remind yourself that it benefits them emotionally and you legally. Failing to do so could have consequences that affect your entire family for years.