Co-Parenting During and After Divorce

Many parents choose to co-parent when they share joint custody of their child or children. This method of parenting makes children feel secure and can add consistency and structure back into a child’s life after a divorce. However, even the best parents can have a difficult time co-parenting effectively after a divorce.

Sometimes, the key to effective co-parenting is as easy as changing your frame of mind. First and foremost realize that while your marriage or relationship was about you and your former spouse, your new post-divorce relationship is solely about your child or children. Whatever happened or didn’t happen in the marriage likely has no place in your co-parenting communications. If it helps, try to look at the situation with almost a professional tone – your job is to raise a healthy and happy child, and completing that job effectively means you need to communicate with and spend time with your former spouse. Try to keep conversations polite, respectful, and about the children. Never put your children in the middle of your problems and don’t use them to send messages; if you need to communicate with your former spouse, make sure that you do it.

Co-parenting, as with any relationship, takes work and dedication, but the end result is worth it.

Disclosure

When you go to a Family Law attorney, be prepared to talk! Typically, a wide range of issues needs to be discussed depending on the subject. For divorces or separations involving children, you may need to discuss: custody, visitation, support, other people in your child’s life, health insurance, life insurance, possible education expenses, religion or other social issues, and any tax issues. For some divorces, you may need to discuss: support, property, jobs, income, real estate, assets, liabilities, pets, taxes, cars, support, history of domestic violence, protection orders, resuming maiden names, etc. These lists are not exhaustive and are just a sampling of some things you can be expected to talk about.

It is important that you talk with your attorney candidly and honestly. It is also important that you provide them with the documentation that they need in a timely manner to make sure the process itself stays timely. Don’t forget that your attorney is working towards a solution that best fits your needs.

Marissa McGill

Traveling (with shared custody)

Traveling is a great way to educate children about different cultures, places, and way of life. However, parents who share custody typically need to take a few extra steps to prepare for their trip, especially if they plan to take their child out of the country. In many cases, you will at least need the other parent’s permission, and it is a good idea to get that permission in writing, and possibly even bring that document with you on your travels. If the parents can’t agree on whether the child should be traveling or not, the courts may have to get involved.

If a child who is 15 years old or less needs to apply for a passport, both of his or her parents need to go with them to apply for the passport. If both parents cannot go, then the absent one must fill out a special form. If the absent parent can’t be located, the court may be able to grant permission.

The government also has a program where you can sign up to be notified if someone has applied for a passport for your child without your knowledge. This is of course to prevent the situations where one parent takes the other child out of the country without the other parent’s knowledge.

Traveling with shared custody can be a tricky situation and it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer beforehand. It is also a good idea to research the passport requirements for your particular situation. It is always better to be overcautious than to have any issues when trying to leave or enter the country.

Marissa McGill

EMERGENCY Restraining Orders

An Emergency Temporary Restraining Order is different from a regular Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in that you may get an Emergency Temporary Restraining Order during evenings, weekends, or holidays (essentially when the courthouse is not open).

You can apply for this type of TRO by calling your local police department. However, if you do receive this type of TRO, you will need to go to the courthouse on the next business day, at which point the process for a regular TRO will take over. That means if you want the restraining order to continue beyond the temporary period, you will need to attend a hearing.

If you have any questions about Temporary Restraining Orders, please contact a Rhode Island Family Law Attorney.

Cat Fight!

An important question for many people going through a divorce is which party will get to keep the family pet or pets. This is typically a dog, though this post could apply to many pets. As with most legal questions, the best answer is “it depends”. When trying to determine who should get the dog, the following things should be taken into consideration.

  • Who can best take care of the dog? This includes feedings, exercises, veterinary appointments, grooming and/or baths, and etc. Alternatively, is there one party who can’t take care of the dog?
  • Which party has the time to give the dog the attention, love, and care that it requires?
  • Which party can better afford to take care of the dog?
  • Are there any children involved that are attached to the dog? If so, which party will have that child?*
  • Did the dog belong to one party before the marriage?
  • Was the dog bonded to one party over another?

As with many situations in a divorce, it is much easier if the parties agree that one party should keep the dog. However, divorces are complicated and the parties are not always able to come to an agreement. This is why it is important to consult a local Family Law Attorney who understands how important your pet is to you, and that your pet is a part of your family.

Marissa McGill

What Not to Do in Family Court! (Part 1)

While there’s never a dull moment in Family Court and emotions are always bubbling over, there are certain things that you should never do inside those four walls.

Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Follow your attorney’s lead and only answer specific questions that are asked of you whether it be from opposing counsel during a 4-way conference or from the judge. Don’t let your emotions take over and start rambling or telling stories that you may feel are important. This is something to be done between you and your attorney in a private conversation and not in front of the opposing side and especially not in front of the judge. When we let our emotions get the best of us we often say things without thinking and when this happens in a family court it can have dire consequences such as you losing out on parenting or visitation times with your children.

Another important thing to remember to never do is to never ever raise your voice to the judge or become physically hostile. Remember there is a bailiff in every court room and there are 5 floors in the Providence court room, meaning there are a lot of people in that court house with training on how to deal with a hostile situation. Not only could a physical outburst have legal charges it is bound to complicate whatever family law case you were there for in the first place.

So remember always follow your attorney’s lead, don’t let your emotions get the best of you and never ever become physical.

Brittany Carr

The muted horrors of parental alienation

All too often two parents enter a Family Court but only one leaves. By that I mean that after a divorce the parent that holds primary physical custody over the child (the parent with whom the child lives most of the time, let’s call her “Amy”) determines at some point that the child does not need the other parent (“Mike”) and directly or indirectly, consciously or not, Amy begins to curtail or undermine the child’s communication with Mike, time with Mike, holidays with Mike, and ultimately the child’s bond with Mike. First it’s not being invited to a birthday party. Then it’s being removed from the contact list at the child’s school. Then the other parent’s extended family is excluded, and so on, until methodically the other parent is as far away from that child as can be. Mike suffers, sure, but the child suffers most of all. So many children are not lucky enough to have two caring parents in their lives; don’t deny your child a bond with their other parent. You may not love them anymore but the child sure does. The child shouldn’t suffer because you and Mike divorced…