In an ideal world, divorced or single parents should agree that all decision-making will be done with the best interests of their children in mind (and put aside their personal diffences)
These are some of the issues that divorced parents should address concerning their children
Best interest principle paramount
• The parents agree that all decision-making will be done with the best interests of the child in mind.
• The child has the right to be free of bad comments and behavior by one parent about the other.
• The parents shall not badmouth, criticize, roll their eyes, be sarcastic and otherwise be disrespectful of the other parent in the presence of the child and the parents shall not let others do this.
• Either parent may use reasonable discipline techniques, but neither parent shall use physical discipline.
Communication between parents
• The parents agree to communicate and make joint decisions regarding their child’s major medical, educational, legal and religious decisions that shall be in her best interests.
• The parents shall communicate and coordinate with each other to provide for their child’s physical care on a day-to-day basis.
• Each parent shall make decisions regarding day-to-day care of the child while the child is residing with that parent.
• Either parent may make emergency decisions affecting the health and safety of the child and will advise the other parent of the decision as soon as possible.
• All communications regarding the child shall be between the parents only and the parents shall not use the child or anyone else to convey information, ask questions or set up contact changes.
• Who must have primary residence?
• When should the child spend time and communicate with the off duty parent?
• What restrictions should be placed on the parent with primary residence moving from the area?
• If they are separated by distance, whose responsibility is it to pay for the child to travel?
Holidays and other contact
• The parents shall agree on time to be spent with the child during the week, on weekends, on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Birthdays, Public Holidays and during School Holidays.
• Each parent shall make a good faith effort to give information to the other parent about events and activities in their child’s lives like school programs, concerts, award ceremonies, plays, sports events and other things the child is participating in. Sometimes this information may be at the last minute but this happens with children and each parent shall make an effort to let the other parent know so that they can attend or talk about it with the child.
• Both parents may participate in school conferences, events and activities and may consult with teachers and other school personnel. Each parent may contact the school to receive grades, attendance, calendars, schedules, mailings and notices.
• Both parents shall have full access to school, day care, medical and other records of the child.
• Both parents shall have equal and independent authority to confer with the child’s school, day care and other programs with regard to the child’s educational, emotional and social progress.
• Are there particular sports or activities that are important to the child? Should they be limited?
• How will the parties communicate with each other about the child’s activities?
• Who will pay for each sport and activity?
• What kind of spiritual involvement do the parties want the child to have? What level of attendance in church, synagogue, or mosque is important?
• If one disagrees with the other about spiritual matters for the child, how will this be resolved to avoid conflict?
Medical and dental care
• What health insurance arrangements should be in place for the child?
• How will the parties pay for health expenses not covered by insurance?
• How will they select medical and dental providers?
• Does each parent have the right to medical reports, advance notice of appointments and notification of emergency care?
• How will they handle disagreements?
• How will the parents share the costs of supporting the child?
• What general savings (education fund, etc) should be set aside for the child?
• Who is responsible to contribute to them and who should manage the funds?
• Whenever possible the parents shall discuss the issues and attempt to reach an agreement based on what is best for their child at that particular time.
• If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on an important issue about their child after they have discussed it with each other, either parent may initiate dispute resolution by arranging for the parents to meet with a counselor or trained mediator to discuss and try and reach agreement.
Contact with grandparents and extended family
• Each parent shall provide the child with visitation with the grandparents and extended family on their own side of the family as they decide is in the child’s best interest during their contact time.
• The parents shall cooperate to help the child attend special events with grandparents and extended family by making reasonable requests of each other, considering the school situation and the child’s best interest and needs.