Q: Do I need to stay in contact with my ex when our child turns 18?
My ex is abusive and I was able to get sole legal custody by offering not to receive child support. My ex emails a few times a year to “check in” on our child. I typically respond with short emails that give details as to their health, school progress, and life in general without revealing any specifics that could cause harm to our child. Now that our child is 18 (and has had no contact with my ex for the last 10 years), do I legally need to keep this line of communication open? My child has their fathers phone number and email if they ever wished to reach out, but has shown no desire to do so.
A: As a general rule, once a child is 18, parenting time orders cease to have effect, though Judges will often consider enforcing the parental communication until the child has graduated high school if the child has not done so by the time they turn 18. Once a child is 18 and has graduated from high school, a parenting time order (including the part about parents communicating with each other) typically ceases to have any effect. This is because the child is typically considered emancipated by that time. It is wise to check your specific orders though, as there are occasionally orders with language requiring something different. To be sure, you should have a family law attorney look over your orders.
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