Many people find co-parenting challenging and face court battles over issues they can avoid. Below are tips to prevent family legal problems when co-parenting.
Understand and Obey the Court Orders
First, understand every clause, sentence, and word in your child custody and visitation order. As is the case with other legal issues, family courts don't accept ignorance as a defense. It is important to understand the following:
- How long you can have the child if you have shared custody
- The decisions you cannot make without involving the other parent
- When to return or pick up the child for alternate custody
Consult your lawyer if something is unclear. In addition, it is not just enough to understand these issues; you must obey them to the letter.
Seek Modification If Necessary
You must obey child custody and visitation orders whether you do not agree with them. However, you can seek their modification if they seem unfair or if situations change. For example, do not have the child longer than the orders prescribed, even if you think it will benefit them. Instead, petition the court to modify the decree and incorporate the changes.
Separate Co-parenting and Child Support
Many connect child support and custody, but doing so will only get you into trouble with the authorities. For example, as a custodial parent, you should not keep the other parent away from the child if they are late with child support payments.
If you are a noncustodial parent, you should not coerce the other parent to agree to your demands with the threat of withholding child support. The court will not rationalize such actions. Treat each case individually.
Involve and Cooperate With the Other Parent
You may disagree with the other parent, but your disagreements will not rise to the level of legal problems if you both agree to cooperate. For example, you can sit down and talk over your issues, involve professionals (such as family counselors), or use mediators. However, you might run to court every time you disagree if one or both of you are uncooperative.
Respect the Child's Best Interest
Lastly, always strive to respect the child's best interests whenever you are unsure of something. Judges design child custody and visitation orders in the child's best interests. Therefore, a genuine decision that benefits the child may buy you some goodwill with the other parent or law, even if the court orders do not express it.
Just because you want to avoid legal problems doesn't mean you should avoid the court at all costs. You have the right to seek legal redress if you disagree with the other parent and other attempts to solve the issue amicably fail. For more information, contact a family lawyer near you.