A couple ground rules first. We are going to assume for this article, that there is nothing terrible going on. The parents are civil with each other. Nothing is amiss, and all orders are being followed.
Sounds pretty normal really, it’s dinner time and you the parent are getting dinner ready at the end of the day. You’re home from work and the kids are playing. Now, you hear the younger child crying and find the older sibling upset and trying to get the younger one to not complain to the parent in the other room. You deduce that the two of them were hitting each other and nobody is injured, but there is something on the stove and you don’t have time for this and unless charcoal and a spanking is going to be on the menu, they better knock it off. You snap at the two kids and angrily tell them to keep their hands to themselves. Congratulations, you just made a big co-parenting goof. A judge might raise an eyebrow if something like that gets brought up in court.
The rules for co-parenting while going through a divorce may be read the same but their application changes because of rules set down by the courts in Nevada. A co-parenting class is required when children are involved and that little outburst above, would be in direct opposition of what you need to do. It may seem counter-intuitive but just because you’re on your own for the evening, doesn’t mean your ex-spouse isn’t still there in the room.
For starters, if that threat isn’t how you were parenting before, you should not resort to it now. The co-parenting requirements in NV are based solely on the best interest of the child. Your needs are secondary in this case. Threats of corporal punishment, especially if it hasn’t been used before, could spell a real problem. Your kids might report this to the ex and she/he could very well take it to a judge in an attempt to get a more favorable decree. Worse yet, you should probably mention the situation to the other parent. Courts are extremely interested (and rightfully so) on the ability of the divorcing parents to communicate about the child, and to take productive action should it be needed. Think of it as a business relationship and you’ll be in a better frame of mind to understand what I’m saying.
It’s important to show a stable, safe home to the courts. Yes the home should be clean and safe, you have children, this is a given and it matters. You should also be ready and willing to discuss all behavior issues with your ex. While you might not have thought twice about such a minor issue while you were married, now the other parent must be brought up to speed on it.
You need to come up with steps to correct behavior aberrations and include the other person in those steps. Though you may not want to talk to them, you must, and you have to communicate effectively.
This one is short and sweet really. You now need to disclose more to your co-parent than you might normally be comfortable with. Are you seeing someone else in a romantic sense? They need to know about it. Did they use corporal punishment on a child? You should be informed and you should be able to tell the other person if you find this acceptable or not.
Also, some states are adopting different laws regarding corporal punishment of children. If you are unsure of the status and limitations of these laws on spanking your children, ask your lawyer. Communication and maintaining a stable, safe home are really what the courts are after. They realize very well that it takes a village to raise a child and you’re not going to be successful on it, by keeping your ex in the dark on things. You might be tempted to document things in order to get better terms in the decree, but if the judge thinks you’re using the child or children as a bargaining chip in divorce negotiations, he/she might really take issue with that.
Co-parenting is about the best interest of the child and your needs are really secondary to that goal. And really, that’s what we’re all after in the end, even if we’re splitting from our spouse. The court wants the best for the children and they will make sure the kids get it. You can try to fight it, or you can pay attention to that co-parenting class and put the suggestions into action. In the end, you are a parent and your children depend on you to be their role model. So be a good one. When they ask “won’t someone think of the children?” The answer from family court is ‘we all are and these two people will do their best, or else they might find the court spanking them.’