When it comes to important legal decisions regarding your children, it is essential to discuss your intentions with all parties involved in their care before taking any action. We suggest engaging in a GOOD FAITH CONVERSATION.
A good faith conversation is where all parties come together for sincere and open dialogue to discuss an important decision that needs to be made. We recommend engaging in a good faith conversation via text, email, or Our Family Wizard to keep a “paper trail.” Since communicating with an ex can be particularly difficult for divorced or separated parents, we’ve put together a few tips for success below.
Having a successful good-faith conversation
1.) Plan ahead. The idea of a good faith conversation is to support co-parenting by involving your child(ren)’s other parent(s) in important decisions. To be effective, plan ahead and start a conversation before the decision is made rather than informing him or her about plans already in action. We know things can come up last minute, but you should give the other parent(s) enough time for a meaningful conversation when possible.
2.) Keep it simple. Be clear and direct with your thoughts and opinions. Engaging in lengthy conversations or too many exchanges can lead to trouble. If you can’t agree on a decision in a reasonable amount of time, consider involving your legal team for additional support.
3.) Check your emotions.Going through a divorce or separation is an emotional experience often filled with hurt and resentment. You want to avoid falling back into unhealthy communication patterns by casting your emotions aside and being respectful. Avoid using adverbs or adjectives that would make you look mean or spiteful (you know the ones we’re talking about), and stay away from words like always or very so you don’t come across as not being fact-based. When in doubt, remember this sage advice: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
4.) Don’t break down at the first sign of opposition. Remember what we said about unhealthy patterns? Well, talk about the possibility of a flashback! Sometimes it seems exes just disagree out of habit. If you start feeling resistance, remember to keep the conversation simple, don’t get emotional, and know when the conversation has passed the point of productivity. Remember, we’re here if you need us!
Understanding your custody agreement
Ultimately, when it comes to legal decisions that affect your children, you should look at your custody agreement for the final say, particularly legal custody. Unlike physical custody, legal custody addresses which parent(s) are responsible for making major legal decisions for a child. Legal custody is usually awarded as either Joint Legal Custody or Final Decision-Making Authority. In Joint Legal Custody, both parents are responsible for making joint decisions, with one parent being awarded Tie-Breaker Authority. A Final Decision-Making Authority is usually granted when the parents cannot communicate effectively, and one parent is given final authority if an agreement cannot be reached.
Common legal custody concerns
Legal custody situations usually involve non-emergency medical decisions, education, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing choices. As families become increasingly diverse, we see new topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation coming up as well.
When co-parenting, starting with a good-faith conversation is your best bet for successfully navigating these sometimes challenging topics with your child’s other caregivers. Applying our tips for success will go a long way towards having a productive conversation with an outcome that best meets the needs of your blended families.
We hope we’ve been able to enlighten you on the topic of good fair conversations to set you up for success. If you or your family find yourself in need of family law services, our team is always ready and available to help. Simply fill out a form to BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION. Please also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest from your favorite family law firm.
Swilling Family Law Firm, LLC