Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Does Shared Parenting Require an Amicable Relationship?

Joint custody is easy to imagine where the parents get along even after splitting up.  What about the significant number of cases where the parents don't like each other?  How can they work together in a shared custody arrangement?

Texas law provides a presumption that parents should be in a joint custody relationship, although that does not mean 50-50 time sharing or any other particular arrangement.  Joint managing conservatorship, the legalese term, is just a title.  The real meaning comes from how the time is shared between parents and how the powers, rights and duties of parents are shared between parents.

So how can parents share parenting if they can't get along?  It's certainly more difficult than when the parties like or tolerate each other.  There are some ways to approach such a situation to assure successful co-parenting.

1.  Focus on the kids first, not the parents.  Try to keep the children's lives has unchanged as possible, keeping in mind that their needs will constantly evolve as they age.  Mainly, don't think in "ownership" terms about "my time" or "my children".  Put the focus on what the children need or want and how they can best be attended to.  Don't make it a control fight between parents.

2.  Add structure.  Sometimes locking down schedules and responsibilities takes away the need or opportunity to pick fights between parents.  If everything is clearly defined in court orders, that should help avoid or minimize the conflict.

3.  Model good behavior.  In the long run, the children will benefit if at least one parent models good behavior.  Hopefully, the other parent will start to follow suit.  If not, keep a stiff upper lip and be the better person.  It's good for the kids.

4.  Practice good communication with the other parent.  Don't be argumentative.  Don't make derogatory  comments about the other parent.  Stick to the facts.  Don't worry about blame.  If there are problems, just fix them.  Be on time and be polite.

5.  Take a class on co-parenting.  Many courts require such a class.  It's best to take a class in person (your attorney can help you find a good one), but you can also take one on line.  It would be great for both parents to take the same class, but it's still good if just one takes the class.  And, as is true in many other matters, refresher classes in the future would be helpful also!

Regardless of how well you get along with the other parent, hopefully you can find some common ground around the children and learn to work together.  Good luck!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Is Collaborative Law a Good Fit for You?

In a recent blog post, Adryenn Cantor, a San Diego, CA attorney included an excellent list of five questions for people to ask themselves to determine if they are a good candidate for using Collaborative Law in a divorce case.  Here are her questions:
  1. "Do you want to end your marriage with respect and integrity? 
  2. Is taking a rational and fair approach to dividing your assets more important than seeing yourself as a winner and your spouse as the loser in this process?
  3. Are your children the most important aspect in this process?
  4.  Is saving money, which could go to you or your children more important than spending it on protracted litigation?
  5.  Do you want to model for yourself, your spouse and your children how mature adults handle significant challenges?"