Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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How co-parenting can affect a child custody arrangement

When thinking about proceeding with a Massachusetts divorce, the number one question parents usually have is about their children. They want to make sure the divorce doesn't negatively impact their children, and rightly so. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of parents in MA co-parenting their children from separate households. While this child custody arrangement and parenting style is usually a success, there can be some gray-area associated with co-parenting that can leave a parent with a few questions.

By gray-area, we mean situations or decisions involving a child that are difficult to decide which parent should lead or follow. Since divorced parents typically were unable to see eye-to-eye in their marriage, it usually follows that each parent's parenting style is slightly, if not completely, different. In co-parenting child custody situations, parents take joint custody one step further and each parent has control of the child's physical or legal custody decisions while they are in the respective parents care. Since each child has his or her separate parenting and lifestyle in each respective household, parents will need to come together to address big issues effectively.

It is in the child's best interest for parents to come together and co-parent. For example, let's say a child has been dealing with a bully at school. One parent may suggest that they stand up for themselves, in whatever means possible. The other parent may insist that the child tell school staff about the issues. This can be very confusing and ineffective advice if a child uses both tactics suggested by a child's parents.

The answer is often for the parents to discuss the issue together beforehand so that they child receives one cohesive plan for how to address a bully. Separated parents who decide co-parenting is the best option for their family will likely run into a handful of issues where the child needs a collective plan or advice backed by both parents. Most everyday decisions can be made by parent's in their respective household. By taking co-parenting one-step further, it can make the child custody arrangement even more effective.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Co-parenting after a difficult divorce: A delicate balance," Danilo Alfaro, Nov. 3, 2016

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