Cooperating with the other parent following a divorce or paternity dispute is one of the most difficult challenges for a parent. While parties in a marital dissolution face many serious issues, their ability to find constructive ways to work together is critical to protecting children from the potential adverse effects of a South Florida divorce or paternity case. There is a large body of research on children of divorce that indicate that children whose parents have a high degree of animosity in a divorce tend to suffer impaired academic performance and social skills. Further, children of parents involved in fairly amicable divorces tend to perform as well as parents of intact marriages. At the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. we are committed to working together with out clients during a West Palm Beach child custody dispute to develop durable and workable parenting plans. This is the second of our three part series of articles on constructive co-parenting.
Make Reasonable Accommodations: While the terms of parenting plans, such as time-share arrangements are supposed to be followed, these arrangements are carried out in the real world where situations arise requiring people to adapt and change their plans. When the other parent requests a switch in scheduling, your decision to grant such a request should be based on being reasonable and the best interest of your child. Some parents police the terms of a parenting plan to such an excessive degree that reasonable adjustments are rejected as a matter of principle. This rigid inflexible approach can be detrimental to your children and will likely generate the same treatment if you need a minor adjustment in the future. There certainly are situations where you may have plans or the other parent is simply trying to be difficult by asking for a last minute change. If the request seems legitimate and will not affect you or your children adversely, however, your agreement to make modifications when unanticipated situations arise can go a long way to creating a positive relationship with the other parent.
Provide Consistent Rules and Consequences: One of the most difficult situations for children in a Palm Beach child custody dispute is to have conflicting rules when moving between the homes of parents. If you can coordinate rules and consequences that apply in both households, this can ease the stress for children. It typically is not advisable to openly undermine the rules imposed by the other parent or to encourage a child to disregard those rules. When parents engage in openly undermining the discipline imposed by the other parent, this often comes back to haunt them as the child may begin to disregard the authority of both parents and pit them against one another.
Do Not Discuss the Case with Your Children: It can be tempting to discuss aspects of the case with your children because you feel that you are “in the right” and want your children to understand why you are taking the position you are on certain issues. This generally is a bad idea and should be avoided. Children are usually conflicted when they are in the middle of a child custody dispute in South Florida. Most of the time shielding your children from the issues in your divorce or paternity case is the best way to reduce the anxiety and fear about the future that children predictably feel in these situations.
Choose Communication Methods and Stick to Them: No matter how parents feel about each other when they are in the middle of a divorce, communication is necessary for effective co-parenting. Many times the level of animosity makes face to face communication a less than desirable alternative. Fortunately, the explosion in electronic communication tools means that there are now more ways for parents to communicate with each other than ever before. Our experienced South Florida child custody law firm carefully explores communication options with our clients while the case is pending. We try to discover ways that encourages parents to communicate with each other about their children and incorporate the most effective method of communication into the parenting plan. The options for communication with the other parent may include:
- Text messaging
- Telephone calls (landline or cell phone)
- Written notes or computer generated letters
- Social media sites
- In-person communication
The key is to determine what works best in your co-parenting arrangement for particular issues and stick to it. Parenting in a cooperative way with the other parent after a West Palm Beach divorce or paternity action is never easy. The effort that both parents put forth will directly benefit your children and generally should make the situation less stressful and frustrating for you. No matter where you are located, experienced West Palm Beach parenting plan lawyer James S. Cunha and his legal team are just a phone call away.