This is the final installment in our three-part series of articles on effective co-parenting in Palm Beach child custody cases. Our South Florida child custody litigation team is committed to protecting the parent-child relationship that our clients share with their children. While most parents would prefer to have more parenting time with their children following a marital dissolution, the clear trend in Florida and other states is to have the child spend as much time with both parents as possible unless there are fitness issues with one of the parents.
Desirable or not, the reality is that parents must also consider their work schedules and what is practical for them. Otherwise, parents may find themselves constantly struggling with having to make repeated changes to their timesharing schedule. Palm Beach child custody lawyer James S. Cunha knows that working closely with the other parent following the acrimonious deterioration of a marriage or cohabitation arrangement can be extremely difficult. Our goal of this three-part series of articles is to offer tools for making the process easier for both you and your children.
Use a Business-Like Approach: Effective co-parenting does not require that you have a warm fuzzy relationship with the other parent. Many parents are able to work constructively with the other parent in a Palm Beach custody case by treating the co-parenting relationship like a business arrangement. Both parents have similar objectives in promoting the best interest of their children. Just like in a business partnership, you can work toward that goal by focusing on your children’s needs and best interests without necessarily having the highest opinion of the other parent. If you discuss issues involving your children with the detached business demeanor that you might a business transaction, you can remove personal animosity and issues with the other parent from the analysis of how to handle specific situations.
Keep Conversations Focused on the Children: Whenever you are discussing issues related to your children with the other parent, it is easy to have those discussions drift into other matters, including alimony, current significant others, child support or other issues. This can interfere with potential agreements and sound decision-making regarding your children. If you can keep conversations about parenting issues focused on your children, it can help prevent emotions on other issues from derailing a constructive agreement.
Parent as a Team: A very productive way to co-parent can be to ask the advice or input of the other parent on an issue that you do not feel strongly about. This type of team approach to co-parenting can be a very productive strategy to developing a cooperative parenting relationship. When you are proactive about involving the other parent in decisions, you are indicating that you respect the other parent by validating that parent’s opinion. Children are capable of sensing this type of collaboration and typically may feel more secure and confident in an environment that may otherwise be dominated by uncertainty.
Do Not Sweat the Small Stuff: If you and the other parent disagree about major issues like whether your children should have a medical procedure or the best school for your child, you should certainly engage in continued discussion to reach an agreement. When you have minor disagreements about less critical issues, you should not make a major issue out of them. If the child’s bedtime is 8:00 p.m. at your house and 8:15 p.m. at the other parent’s home, this may not be an issue worth arguing over.
Work Together to Overcome Visitation Refusals: When a child refuses to follow the parenting time plan, this can be one of the most challenging situations for parents involved in South Florida child custody cases. If the child indicates that he or she does not want to go to the home of the other parent, you should carefully discuss this issue with the child to determine why the child does not want to spend time with the other parent. This issue must be discussed honestly with the other parent, and cooperative efforts should be employed to help the child feel comfortable spending time with the other parent. If you are open and honest with the other parent, it will help avoid misunderstandings and distrust. This can be one of the most difficult communication scenarios because it is easy for the other parent to get the impression that you are behind your child’s decision not to visit the other parent.
We invite you to read the first two installments of this three-part series of articles on positive co-parenting in South Florida child custody cases. While we have tried to provide a number of productive strategies for positive communication and co-parenting, the best way to obtain more specific information about your child custody dispute is to speak to a member of our Palm Beach child custody team at the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. No matter where you are located, experienced Palm Beach parenting plan lawyer James S. Cunha and his legal team are just a phone call away.