Chapter 1: Moving Forward
Chapter 2: Understanding Your Relationship with Your Child Chapter 3: Talking with Your Child
Chapter 4: Setting Guidelines for Your Child
Chapter 5: Setting Expectations for Yourself
Chapter 6: Dealing with the Other Parent
Chapter 7: Coping with Visitation
Chapter 8: Scheduling
Chapter 9: Dealing With Holidays and Celebrations
Chapter 10: Long-Distance Parenting
Chapter 11: Other People Involved With Visitation
Chapter 12: Dealing With Ages and Stages
Chapter 13: Special Situations
Chapter 14: Conclusion
Appendix A: Sample Parenting Plans
Appendix B: Resources
Appendix C: Canadian Resources
Appendix D: Telephone Numbers for Reporting Child Abuse (State by State)
About the Author
Now that the dust has cleared and you know what kind of arrangement you are going to have to live with, it’s time to face reality. First, you need to completely understand your parenting plan details and what rights you have. Next, you will need to take a look at what that really means for you and your child. While it may be hard to adjust to your new life, you will find that there are many bright spots in it. This chapter will help you get a grip on your life and help you see what you have to smile about.
Now that you have residential or legal custody, you might not be entirely sure what rights that gives you. First, you need to read the judge’s order or your settlement agreement carefully. The following are some of the possible custody and visitation arrangements you might have.
Joint Custody with Visitation.
You and the other parent share joint custody, with the child residing with you and visiting with the other parent. Joint custody means you are supposed to make decisions together about the child, such as where he or she goes to school, whether to have medical procedures done, etc. Joint custodians are expected to be able to communicate with each other. You, as the person the child primarily lives with, have residential custody. The other parent has visitation according to a schedule or when you both agree to it.
Sole Custody and Visitation.
In this arrangement, you have sole custody and the other parent has visitation. This means the child lives primarily with you, and that you make most of the decisions about the child and are not required to get the other parent’s input. The other parent has visitation at set times or at times as agreed upon.
In this scenario, the child splits his or her time equally between you and the other parent. Both of you are responsible for making decisions about the child. Neither is considered to be the residential parent.
If you are not sure which type of arrangement you have, call your attorney or mediator for help in understanding the wording in your judgment or order.
The most important thing to remember about the different arrangements is that they are just words. Your child is still your child. Your child is still the other parent’s child as well. No one can take that away from either of you. Learn the legal term and then forget it.Your focus should be on your relationship with your child, not on a phrase and how it makes you feel; how it makes the other parent feel; or, how other people react to it.
Do Not Get Hung Up on Words
You should not get hung up on the words custody and visitation. You also should not become too focused on the word co-parenting. These are simply terms we use to describe the situation that exists after divorce. When you and the other parent lived in the same house, you were parents together, period. One of you may have spent more time with your child. It is important that you both continue to be parents and that your child continues to see you both as his or her parents.
Brette McWhorter Sember (Author)
Brette McWhorter Sember is a former New York state attorney and skilled mediator. She was on the Law Guardian panel in four counties and acted as a volunteer mediator for the Better Business Bureau. Sember is an expert at explaining and simplifying legal concepts. She has written more than 30 books, including File for Divorce in New York, Tenant's Rights in New York, Landlord's Rights in New York, The Complete Legal Guide to Senior Care, The Complete Credit Repair Kit, The Infertility Answer Book, The Adoption Answer Book, How to Parent with Your Ex, Gay & Lesbian Legal Rights, How to Form a Corporation in New York, Child Custody, Visitation, and Support in New York, Seniors' Rights and many more. Her web site is www.BretteSember.com.