Author Topic: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.  (Read 17539 times)

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Online JSD

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My past relationship with my ex-wife has been tumultuous at best. After leaving her, she became the epitome of a scorned ex-wife. Despite the challenges, departing from the relationship was the best decision I ever made for my personal well-being. However, it has made my relationship with my son more complicated, as she has used him as a tool to hurt me.

After enduring a tumultuous period of intense turmoil, including parental alienation and various absurdities, such as a frivolous emergency order that was swiftly dismissed by the court, my ex-partner has now expressed a desire for peace. Although I am confident that I could ultimately prevail in court given the textbook nature of the alienation, I am uncertain whether the cost and stress involved would be worthwhile. One of the key sticking points is my ex's refusal to allow me access to my son's phone. I firmly believe that not having such access not only poses a safety risk, but also undermines my role as a father.

Am I overreacting to this situation? Should I opt for serenity and let go of the phone situation, or do I have a valid reason to feel as perturbed as I currently do?

Edit - my son is 11 years old
« Last Edit: April 07, 2023, 06:46:35 PM by JSD »
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2023, 07:12:05 PM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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It's difficult to know what to say not knowing the individuals involved.  Some initial thoughts for what they're worth knowing that everyone is different and all circumstances are in their own way unique:

From what you wrote it's completely understandable that you'd have strong feelings.  This is about concern for the most important person in the world to you so it's no surprise you'd have a visceral response to not having the type of access you believe will help keep him safe.
 In most circumstances, children are better off when separated parents can find a way to cooperate and collaborate in parenting their children, so I think  an important goal should be to do your best to avoid placing your child in the mix of the adult conflict. When safety is involved itís a different story.  My kids are too old for me to fully understand the danger of not having access to their phones. You have to assess your conflicting values: his safety, interest in assuring your son that both you and your ex have his best interest in mind, and respect for his privacy/personal life (which depends on many factors including age).

Iíd suggest avoiding a court situation that may be contentious. The things you'll have to do and say (and the things she will do and say) will make it harder to keep things from spilling over into your time with your child and probably make things even worse when she is with him, as it sounds like she doesn't avoid putting your son in the middle of things.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2023, 07:04:22 AM by Neurotic Guy »

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2023, 07:19:34 PM »

Online JSD

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2023, 07:25:50 PM »

Offline Roy H.

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.



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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2023, 07:29:35 PM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Iím glad I got that wrong - glad you have contact with him whenever you want.

And I agree with Royís comment.

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2023, 07:30:06 PM »

Online JSD

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2023, 07:35:29 PM »

Offline Roy H.

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.

I think thatís fair, so long as youíre not installing tracking apps or anything.  Your house, your rules.  Her house, her rules.


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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2023, 09:42:30 PM »

Online JSD

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.

I think thatís fair, so long as youíre not installing tracking apps or anything.  Your house, your rules.  Her house, her rules.

I am not certain what tracking apps are, and perhaps that is the reason my ex-wife is hesitant to allow me access to his phone. Is it possible that she installed spyware?
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2023, 11:13:47 PM »

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.

I think thatís fair, so long as youíre not installing tracking apps or anything.  Your house, your rules.  Her house, her rules.

I am not certain what tracking apps are, and perhaps that is the reason my ex-wife is hesitant to allow me access to his phone. Is it possible that she installed spyware?


 Of course its possible.  Missing some details here, will your son not allow you access to his phone when hes with you?

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2023, 04:03:32 AM »

Online ozgod

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.

I think thatís fair, so long as youíre not installing tracking apps or anything.  Your house, your rules.  Her house, her rules.

I guess the basic one would be switching on the Find Phone feature on most smartphones that allow you to track the phone's location. I have it switched on on my mother's phone to track her for her own good (she's in her 70s and isn't very tech savvy so it's really more to quickly find out where she is in an accident)  :angel:
Any odd typos are because I suck at typing on an iPhone :D

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2023, 05:50:45 AM »

Offline gouki88

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How old is the kid and what is his perspective?
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2023, 08:32:08 AM »

Offline Celtics2021

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Ignoring the argument with your ex for a minute, what sort of relationship do you want with your son?  A personal story:

My parents split when I was ten, and my mother had primary custody.  My father wasnít a horrible person in an objective sense, but he was very much a ďmy house, my rulesĒ kind of person when we I was with him.  Whether that was because he had a different set of values from my mom, was naturally an authoritative person, or was himself struggling from the divorce doesnít really matter.  What matters is that I was 10, 11, 12, 13 and was really struggling to adjust to my parents split, and had to operate under a different set of rules when I was in his house.  It was like walking on eggshells at his house, because Iíd always screw up while I was there, and then the visit would be ruined.  Biologically speaking, kids at that age already have trouble with following rules, so having an extra set was frankly too much.

Anyway, it changed over time from me being excited to see my father to me dreading to see my father.  And once I became an adult and didnít have to see him, I saw him less and less, and then talked to him less and less, and then I stopped.  Iím in my 40s now, Iíve neither talked to him or seen him in over a decade, and I donít really have any regrets.  The stuff above wasnít the only reason, but it was a major part of the puzzle.

Anyway, I think youíre technically in your rights to make your son show you whatís on his phone when heís with you, but I wouldnít do it, at least not by forcing him.  If youíre worried about some of the games heís playing, ask him what his favorites are, download them onto your own phone, and see if you can play them together.  That will give you something to bond over, and you can also judge from your own experience how potentially harmful or not the games are relative to how fun they are.  If youíre worried heís on the phone too much while heís with you, try to do more things to keep him interested, but also set aside some time for him to use the phone.  Maybe say something like ďItís hard not seeing you every day, so itíd would be nice if youíre on the phone a bit less this weekend.  Iíll try to make sure to stay off mine as well.Ē  But make a couple 30-minute blocks on the weekend when thatís what heís doing if he wants.  If youíre worried about social media, I understand, and he shouldnít be on it at that age, but youíre not going to save him from it by forcing him to show you whatís there.  Itís best just to try to make sure you have a good relationship so he feels comfortable telling you about anything there that you really should know about, so you can help him navigate it before he gets to the age where heís just not going to tell you because heís a full on teenager.  Maybe you can sign up for his preferred social media and follow/friend him so you can, again, see what heís seeing, but I wouldnít force that one if he objects.  But heís 11 ó if you show genuine interest, heíll probably let you in.  If you let him get the feeling that you donít trust him and are spying on him, he wonít, and you should stop at the boundary heís set rather than try to break through it.

The way youíve described things sound so much like what my father would do in 2023.  So again, it depends what relationship you want with him.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2023, 08:38:51 AM by Celtics2021 »

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2023, 09:08:43 AM »

Offline Neurotic Guy

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I agree with and appreciate the personal story C2021 provided.  Relationship in the long-term is the broader goal. And even though I agree with Roy that there can be different rules on some things, generally kids benefit from common expectations and a united philosophy.  True in all households, split or otherwise.  Obviously bringing different personalities to the table is a reality in all households but dramatic differences in values and styles can be troubling for a lot of kids. 

Limit setting is obviously important (especially when safety is concerned), but finding the right line is complex as autonomy is also important. Working with your ex on this is clearly difficult, but continuing to try for common ground or understanding with this  sensitive and volatile issue, even if it means some compromise and different rules in different households, is probably best case. There are potential costs and benefits no matter where it lands, but reducing costs is often the way to go.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2023, 11:17:11 AM by Neurotic Guy »

Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2023, 10:56:43 AM »

Online JSD

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I would like to clarify quick that I am able to contact him at any time, but my concern lies with my inability to access his phone. In the event that I feel the need to ensure his safety or prevent him from posting anything inappropriate, I am unable to do so.

Access it when heís with you, or remotely?

In general, what Iíve seen is that the custodial parent makes the rules about the phone when the child is with them, and the non-custodial parent makes the rules when the child is with them.

I'm not interested in remote access, however, when we're together, I do expect to have access to his phone.

I think thatís fair, so long as youíre not installing tracking apps or anything.  Your house, your rules.  Her house, her rules.

I am not certain what tracking apps are, and perhaps that is the reason my ex-wife is hesitant to allow me access to his phone. Is it possible that she installed spyware?


 Of course its possible.  Missing some details here, will your son not allow you access to his phone when hes with you?


My ex and I recently had a heated argument over this phone situation. When he was with me, my son and his pal had made a gaming video which he uploaded to YouTube. I asked him for his username so I could view it. Note that this incident occurred as I was dropping off my son to my ex-wife. We were meeting at the midpoint to exchange custody. So while in the car, I explained to my son that he needed to show me what he had just posted on YouTube, he refused. I texted my ex-wife, who was only 20 feet away in her car, to inform her that I was addressing a disciplinary issue with our son. She charged towards me in an aggressive manner, shouting at me to let our son out of the car. Knowing that she has a history of lying, I began recording her behaviour the moment she got out of the car.

Moving forward, I told her that our son would no longer be allowed to carry any electronic devices with him when he is with me, unless I have full access. When I picked him up next, he had his phone on him as usual, and I had to confiscate it and turn it off. This incident led to an emergency order filed by my ex, which was quickly dismissed. My ex seems to think that any time I act as a responsible parent to discipline our son, I am being abusive, which is patently absurd. I don't believe in physical discipline, and I always try to communicate with him rationally.


After her case was dismissed, she reached out, looking for peace. But was adamant that I need to leave the phone thing alone.
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Re: At a standstill with my ex-wife regarding our son's mobile phone.
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2023, 11:03:23 AM »

Online JSD

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How old is the kid and what is his perspective?

At the age of 11, my son's outlook is heavily influenced by my ex-wife's constant derogatory remarks about me. In his eyes, his mother still holds the ultimate authority. She has instilled in him the belief that the only reason I seek access to his phone is to obtain information about her.
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