The Legal Importance of Co-Parenting
When a couple breaks up, co-parenting is important for many reasons, but it is especially important for a few legal reasons.
- The best interest of the children. This is the main focus in cases involving children. What is in their best interest? It is presumed that a parent will make decisions that are in their children’s best interest. However, the presumption can be challenged with evidence that the parent’s decisions are not in a child’s best interest. Co-parenting is always in a child’s best interest because children are attached to both parents if they have both been in a child’s life. It is not a good idea to block the other parent from the child’s life if a relationship is already established. If a parent comes to the parenting relationship after some delay, it’s best to ask for the court for help in establishing that parent/child relationship. Any parent who is viewed as trying to hinder the child’s relationship with the other parent will not be viewed favorably by the court.
- Modifications. If parents are not able to co-parent, a request for a modification is likely. Any court proceeding is going to cost time and money. When the parenting is not going well, one of the parents will likely seek a modification of the previous court order seeking to change something, whether it be custody, the possession schedule or child support. If the parties are successfully co-parenting, they are also working out dispute and challenges without seeking the help of the court.
- Enforcements. Often co-parenting disputes result when someone is not following the court order. This could lead to an enforcement action. If the court finds you in contempt of court, you will be ordered to pay attorney’s fees for the enforcement. Co-parenting will help avoid an enforcement action. If you are successfully co-parenting, both parents often agree to veer from the court order because they are making decisions together and those decisions are likely in the child’s best interest.
That being said, sometimes co-parenting is just not possible. Recently, I was in court making an argument for relief for my client. The judge agreed with my argument and asked rhetorically, “How can your client co-parent without the other parent?” If the other parent doesn’t respond to text, phone calls, emails, carrier pigeon, you will not be able to establish a co-parenting relationship. The court has many solutions to these problems. Every parent should try their best to have a good co-parenting relationship, but if you’ve done all you can do, you may have to seek relief from the court, whether it be an enforcement, modification or both.