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The Big Lie About Co-Parenting

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Joseph Nowinski, PhD, has written a compelling article for the Huffington Post about whether or not co-parenting is actually in the child’s best interests. This is something I think about whenever I hear fathers of breastfeeding infants demand equal parenting time. While I appreciate the desire to be an integral part of your child’s life, I can’t help but wonder how the father plans to breastfeed his infant during his custodial time.

The idea of co-parenting between ex-spouses who are able to treat each other with respect, communicate in a healthy and adult manner, and work together to raise their children is brilliant.But what about a four-month-old breastfeeding infant? Is it in that child’s best interest to spend 50% of the time with dad? Probably not. What if, during marriage, Dad was responsible for 75% of child care while Mom worked full time and supported the family? Does it make sense, in the wake of major life changes (such as one’s parents divorcing) for the children to suddenly find themselves in Mom’s care 50% of the time? I can’t answer that question because it really depends on the child, the child’s age, the parents and their relationship after the divorce. From the article:

My personal bias is to try to roughly match initial visiting and custody arrangements with each parent’s level of parenting experience. For example, if reality shows that one parent has had 75 percent of the parenting experience described in the above questionnaire, while the other has had only 25 percent, after the divorce children should divide their time between the parents in roughly the same proportions, at least initially. Such an arrangement can easily be written into a divorce agreement, which might place a time limit on the 75/25 split.

Over time the less experienced parent should be given opportunities to “catch up” in the day-to-day parenting; for example, by taking the child or children to pediatrician appointments, by cooking family meals, and by supervising bedtime preparation. Then, as the less experienced parent begins to catch up, living schedules can gradually move toward a true fifty-fifty split. This gradual increase avoids making the child or children anxious and avoids having to separate a great deal from the parent who early had done most of the parenting.

What do you think? Would co-parenting work in your family? Have you tried it and had success? Or have you tried it and discovered that it’s not all its cracked up to be? Read the rest of the article here and share your opinion – we want to know what you think.

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When The Cat is Away

Can you control what your kids do when they’re spending time with your ex?

Generally speaking each parent gets to make decisions regarding a child’s activities during their period of physical custody. The State of California, represented by the judicial officer, is not the “super parent” entitled to make the usual decisions regarding how to raise children. When parents disagree about some activity (I’ve seen things like riding on motorcycles or scooters, flying in a private plane, sailboat ride, playing certain sports, eating certain foods, etc.) the limitation on the judicial officer is finding some solid evidence of actual danger to the child. To see just how high that burden is take a look at In re Marriage of Mentry, 142 Cal. App. 3d 260 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 1983). That case was always my touchstone when these issues were brought to me. — Honorable Judge Robert Schnider (Retired)

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Custody Matters

Ron and Robert had the opportunity to interview Attorney Leslie Ellen Shear at the Pepperdine Law School Consensual Dispute Resolution seminar in 2010. Leslie Ellen Shear is a graduate of UCLA Law School, a California State Bar Board Certified Family Law Specialist and Certified Appellate Law Specialist, and she’s the author of numerous published opinions. Ron and Robert have known her for over twenty-five years and she is one of their most respected colleagues. Honest, blunt, and brilliant, Leslie Ellen Shear is a true powerhouse.

This week Attorney Shear finishes her conversation on child development, then goes on to discuss move-away cases, frequency of contact between children and parents, and the current problems in the California Family Law courts.

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Missed Parts 1 & 2? Here they are:

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: “A” Stood for Alternative
Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Child Development

Don’t miss another episode! Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and tune in next week for the final episode in this four-part series, Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: The Problem with Court.

Learn more about Leslie Ellen Shear at CustodyMatters.com.

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Child Development

Ron Supancic asked Attorney Leslie Ellen Shear what steps parents can take to insure that their children are not harmed by the divorce and she answered,”They can take a deep breath to begin with.”

In part two of this four-part series, Attorney Shear describes beautifully the emotional process a couple goes through while divorcing, what their children go through, and what parents can do to help their children get through it.

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Missed Part 1? Here it is:

Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: “A” Stood for Alternative

Don’t miss another episode! Subscribe to Ron and Robert on Divorce on iTunes and tune in next week for Honest, Blunt & Brilliant: Custody Matters.

Learn more about Leslie Ellen Shear at CustodyMatters.com.