Showing a Judge You Can Co-Parent / by Cassandra Hearn

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Few issues can bring out the anger and hurt in a family law case as quickly as a custody case.  Parents will fight long and hard to make sure that any custody or visitation order is best-suited to meet the needs of their children.  California courts will make a custody or visitation decision based on what is in a child’s best interest.  There is no magic formula for what is in a child’s best interest, and the decision is made based on a long list of factors.  Among these factors is which parent is better able and more willing to encourage the child to have a positive relationship with the other parent.  Accordingly, when in a custody battle, it is essential to demonstrate to the judge that you are ready, willing, and able to co-parent with your former spouse or partner.

To the extent that is practical, you should give your child unrestricted access to the other parent.  With the technology available today, there is no reason that your child cannot keep in touch with the other parent.  If a child is of sufficient age, it may be useful for him or her to have a cell phone devoted to only contacting the other parent.  In that way, the child is free to email, call, or text as often as he or she wants.  If the child is too young to use a phone, using Skype or FaceTime could be an alternative.  In short, providing unfettered communication access with the other parent is an excellent way to show a judge you can co-parent.

Next, share information and communicate as much as possible.  If your child has parent-teacher conferences or a soccer game, share that schedule with the other parent at the earliest possible opportunity.  The same goes for medical issues, including appointments.  Even if the other parent does not have medical decision-making authority, the parent almost certainly still has the right to notice of medical issues, so make sure you send the information along as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

Finally, be flexible.  Even when parents make the best efforts to plan and make sure work and extracurricular schedules perfectly coincide with drop-off and pick-up times, occasionally things come up.  If a parent needs a few extra minutes because of traffic or an unexpected meeting at work, giving the other parent a little lee-way is a great way to show a judge you can co-parent.

Co-parenting after a divorce or child custody dispute definitely presents unique problems and challenges. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 for a consultation to talk about your children and how to show a judge that you are willing and able to foster a good relationship with the child and your former spouse or partner.