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Maternal gatekeeping and child custody

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2023 | Child Custody, Divorce

Post-divorce, childless ex-couples have the options to completely part ways and never see each other again. However, post-divorce, parents do not have this option. They will likely spend the rest of their lives interacting with each other in one way or another. And, for those with young children, they will need to maintain a close relationship as they will need to co-parent. Unfortunately, some Memphis, Tennessee, parents may notice that their now ex-spouse is gatekeeping even while co-parenting.

Maternal gatekeeping and gatekeeping generally

Maternal gatekeeping, as it is commonly known, is when the mother controls access to their child, even from the father, but also from other friends and family. This can occur both during a divorce or after. But, while this is most commonly referred to as maternal gatekeeping, it is quite possible for either parent to gatekeep. And, when either parent gatekeeps against the other, it is at the expense of the parent-child relationship, which is essentially to the mental health and well-being of grown adolescents and future adults.

Pre- and post-divorce

Pre-divorce, gatekeeping is very easy to spot because it is literal gatekeeping. It is the physical keeping of the child by one parent away from the other parent.

Post-divorce, gatekeeping can be the same until there is a Memphis, Tennessee, child custody order. However, once the child custody order is in place, unless the gatekeeping parent does not follow it, the gatekeeping can be a bit less obvious.

The control becomes less about physical access and more about access to information. As the child’s health changes or large events happen in the child’s school, athletic, religious or social life, the gatekeeping parent does not share it. Instead, they unilaterally make decisions or coach the child through those major life changes. The other parent’s lack of attention and participation can slowly erode their relationship, and as they grow older, they will likely disconnect more and more from that parent.

And, more lascivious the gatekeeping parent may reinforce these negative emotions against the non-gatekeeping parent by speaking ill or untruths about that parent. This only further hurts that relationship and can eventually destroy it.


If you notice that your ex-spouse is gatekeeping, make it known, and see if you can talk them out. Perhaps they do not even know they are doing it. For minor cases, this may solve the problem.

However, for major gatekeepers, you will likely need to bring back your Memphis, Tennessee, family law lawyer. They will likely need to bring back in the judge to modify the original child custody order or make additional orders to stop the gatekeeping.