We recently discussed the positive shift from the idea of "winning" child custody to the more collaborative approach of time sharing and co-parenting after divorce. Today courts in Florida recognize the importance of having both parents in a child's life, rather than creating a court-ordered void where one parent might have been.
A timely follow-up to that discussion is the recent New York Times article, "How Divorced Parents Lost Their Rights." In it, the writer, who is a psychology professor, points to the historical reluctance of courts to get involved in child-rearing disputes between married parents, yet judges often have a hand in deciding child custody matters for divorced or separated parents.
The discrepancy is based on the idea that married parents can agree on how to raise children while divorced parents cannot. Speak to the married parents you know, however, and you'll quickly find that they, too, disagree on occasion about how their kids should be raised. Whether you're married or not, if you're a parent, then you may have to resolve disputes with your co-parent regarding any number of child-rearing issues.
In short, times have changed. It is possible now for parents who no longer are married or live together to work out a parenting plan that includes both parents and protects the child's best interest. All of this can be done without a judge's intervention, meaning all of this can be done without expensive and time-consuming litigation.
While going to court over child custody is necessary in many cases, should this route really be the norm? According to common parlance, parenting coordination, mediation and collaborative law are "alternative" methods of resolving disputes. But shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't a cooperative parenting plan be the norm, and going to court the alternative?
Parents in Florida can learn more about parenting coordination here.