Joint legal custody gives parents the rights and responsibilities to make all important decisions regarding their children, together. Important decisions are those related to health, education and extracurricular activities, religious upbringing, and developmental issues.
Joint decisions are all well and good, but often one party will ask: “…and what happens if we disagree?” This question causes much stress to a divorcing couple, who may already have many other disagreements to deal with.
We all know that even in the best of marriages, where parents have no intention of separating, they have disagreements on certain aspects of their children’s lives. So whether you are married or going through a separation, there are constructive ways to address these differences of opinion.
First and foremost, each party needs to listen to the other party and understand where he/she is coming from. Listening does not mean that you necessarily agree, but it does mean that each of you is open to hearing the other person’s position, and is trying to understand the reasons for that position. By actively listening, you may be able to try and find a place where you can blend some of your diverse ideas, to create a new joint position that you could both live with.
If this proves impossible, consider consulting with various professionals, depending on the type of issue you are facing.
- If it is health related, a second opinion could be very beneficial. Actually this is usually a good way to go, even if you do agree.
- If it is education related, there are educational consultants. They will take into account all of your concerns to help you find a solution.
- Some other issues may be helped by a mental health professional, or if your children are minors, a child psychologist who will give some insights, taking into account the childrens’ ages and perspectives.
Mediation of course always offers that safe place to talk things out together and generate new options that often lead to a good solution for both of you. As a neutral third party, I have helped numerous couples in post-divorce disagreements find answers that they had not thought about while battling the issue between themselves and remaining stuck in their positions.
If you have any other suggestions on how parents can work through differences of opinion, please feel free to share them below.
Comments From Social Media
It seems to me that if you have joint legal custody, you are required by stipulation to arrive at a joint decision. If such is the case, the party that is hostile, or belligerent should have custodial rights removed since they’re in violation of the marital stipulation.
On the other hand, if you have a custodial non-custodial situation (read mother is custodial) than your mediation is bound to fail because the children are by stipulation belong 100% in upbringing to the mother and the unconstrained power over the father that comes with it. As with most, but not all divorces, many women use the children in nefarious ways to get and control the father thereby hurting the kids and of course the father. Mediation cannot work in those scenarios because you have one party (usually the mother) that has nothing to gain).
Personally, I believe strongly in mediation because our adversarial system is for criminals. Two people divorcing are simply ending a relationship that did not work out. They have not committed any crime.
But in the NY State legal system fathers operate in, there is too much for the mothers, (i.e. money and power through custody of the kids by default) to gain through the adversarial court system.
I think what you do is very good and wish there were more people like you. You have a very tough road. I wish you the best.
jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator divorce and family mediation upper east side of manhattan (nyc) new york, ny (212) 472-8626 firstname.lastname@example.org connect on