Should I let my child meet her father after our divorce?

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my 30s. I’ve decided to get a divorce. I plan to take custody of our child.

Since we got married, my husband has gone out with women for dinner and attended parties for people looking to find someone to marry, pretending to be single. On his days off, he goes out to have fun and does not come home until late at night. He does not seem to care for our child, a newborn, at all. When I ask him to help me more by doing housework and taking care of our child, he often makes various excuses, and is seemingly unwilling to do those things.

He speaks abusively to me for hours whenever he feels unhappy with me, intending to make me obey him. We are in a relationship that is more like a master and servant than a married couple. He speaks abusively even to my parents as well as to his own parents. Given all those things, it is very difficult to patch up our relationship.

Seeing him be so dishonest and arrogant, I feel uneasy about my future, and I’ve finally decided to get a divorce. I want to have a positive outlook on life from here on for the well-being of my child and myself.

However, there is one thing I can’t decide, which is whether I should have my child meet my husband after getting a divorce. How should I deal with this matter to keep on living from now?

Y, Miyagi Prefecture

Dear Ms. Y:

You’ve decided to get a divorce and take custody of your child. You are indecisive about having your child meet your husband after getting a divorce. Why are you so indecisive? Is that because your husband does not care for his own child and does not behave as a responsible father?

Nonetheless, you must let them meet, in principle, as he has the right to do so, even if he lives separately from his child. The laws require divorcing parents to agree on the conditions for meeting with their children. When doing that, they place top priority on the child’s interests.

I suggest you fix a time and a place for him to meet with your child for the sake of supporting your child’s growth. If you cannot have a talk about that with your husband, you can petition the family court to settle the matter.

Yet when your child is still very young, you are required to accompany your child while meeting your husband. In addition, you will have trouble keeping in contact with your divorced husband for many years to discuss such matters as changing the meeting schedule.

When you need to have contact with him, you should focus most on your child’s happiness, putting aside your pent-up grudge and resentment against him.

Sachiyo Dohi, lawyer

(from April 3, 2018, issue)Speech

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