In a series of posts beginning today, we explore tips that newly divorced parents should consider employing in communicating about their children with their former spouse. These tips also apply to individuals who have custodial and visitation rights to children through legitimation or paternity actions. Therefore, our use of former spouse can be used interchangeably with former girlfriend or boyfriend.
Georgia uses the best interest of a child approach in making custody determinations. O.C.G.A §19-9-3 (a)(3) enumerates dozens of factors that assist a court in determining the best interests of a child . One of these factors is: The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child. This week we will explore some ideas on fostering a close relationship between your former spouse and your children.
If you are the parent who has the children during the school week, you undoubtedly get the daily dumps from the child’s book bag replete with report cards, progress reports, and extracurricular activity schedules. You are also the parent most likely to schedule regular checkups with the doctor, the dentist, or the orthodontist. Do you communicate those events and appointments to your child’s other parent? Do they know about the upcoming soccer tournament or the piano recital? Do they know when report cards are available? Or whether there is a field trip next month? When the other parent is informed they are able to make it to important events in the child’s life. They’ll see them make their first goal or watch them get their first blue ribbon in a science fair. When both parents come to these events, children know they are loved and that their parents take a special interest in all they do.
There is no excuse for not taking advantage of today’s technology and employing an online calendar to ensure that the other party remains informed of your children’s activities. Google has a free online calendar that allows you to share information with other users but allows you to manage those privacy settings. For example, your former spouse can view activities but cannot modify or delete them. Most websites which offer free email such as Yahoo! also provide free online calendars. Most school systems publish online calendars for their school system and some make them exportable into a calendar format. Should you choose to set up an online calendar here are some things to consider:
Who should be able to view your child’s calendar?
- Other parent;
- If the other parent has remarried, perhaps the child’s step-parent;
- Grandparents and other family members especially if they operate as additional caretakers; and
- Nannies and other babysitters.
What type of events should be added to your child’s online calendar?
- Academic Events
o Report Cards Available
o Parent Teacher Conference
o School breaks
o Field trips
- Sports activities
- Extracurricular activities
- Doctor and Dentist appointments
- Other Children’s Birthday Parties (This is a common complaint among custodial parents. They feel that they have to buy all the presents for the children’s parties because the other parent does not keep up with the children’s social activities)
If you are too busy to maintain an online calendar for your children’s activities, then at the very least invest in a scanner to scan the children’s extracurricular and sports schedules to share with the other parent by email. Many teams provide the practice and game schedules online so sending your former spouse a link to the site is also a great option.
We’ll be back later this week to discuss more tips and ideas.