Lessons from the Superbowl on Co-Parenting

A court will look to many factors under RSA 461-A:6 when making an initial determination of parental rights and responsibilities. Provided that each parent is capable of providing a safe, loving home, one of the most important factors that will be considered is the ability of each parent to support the relationship of the children with the other parent. Three specific factors under the statute read:

  • "The ability and disposition of each parent to foster a positive relationship and frequent and continuing physical, written, and telephonic contact with the other parent, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent."
  • " The support of each parent for the child's contact with the other parent as shown by allowing and promoting such contact, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent."
  • "The support of each parent for the child's relationship with the other parent, including whether contact is likely to result in harm to the child or to a parent."

Following the Patriots amazing Superbowl victory (Yayyyyyy Pats!!!!), I came across an article commending actress Bridget Moynahan, Tom Brady's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his oldest child, for her gracious congratulatory tweet sent out while her son was celebrating on the field with his dad, stepmother and half-siblings:

Christine Coppa, the article's author and a single mom writes about the difficult journey a parent must go through to come out on the other side a supportive co-parent. She observes:

Moynahan has “moved past the bitter parts that most breakups create, and onto accepting their relationship as a unique family,” relationship expert Amy Spencer, author of Meeting Your Half-Orangeand Bright Side Up, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Her son should be damn proud of his dad, and that tweet is a beautiful sign that Bridget wants to support her son that way.”

Supportive co-parenting allows the child to see her parents as a team rather than as opponents, and that is critical to their adjustment and development. As mentioned above, it can also be the decisive factor for a court when determining residential responsibility. There are numerous resources available to assist parents in the co-parenting journey. Here are some of my favorites:

 

Vaccinating your children for the H1N1 flu? It is a joint decision to be made with your co-parent.

There is a lot of talk about the H1N1 flu and the vaccines, and rightly so. 46 states are reporting widespread flu activity, and some New Hampshire schools are reporting absence rates of up to 30% . New Hampshire has activated the 2-1-1 state info line to answer questions about the flu and the vaccine. New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services has also published a FAQ about the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu.

Many parents have concerns about the H1N1 vaccine and its safety and efficacy. If you and your co-parent have joint decision making responsibilities, this is an issue that you need to discuss together. Joint decision-making responsibility is defined as equal participation in the major decisions of the children’s life regarding health, safety and welfare, including but not limited to matters pertaining to medical and psychological care, discipline, education, daycare and extracurricular activities.

 

Whether to vaccinate your children is a major decision, and therefore should be agreed upon by both parents. Speak together with your pediatrician, and consider his or her opinion about the matter. Listen to what your co-parent has to say, and talk over the pros and cons of vaccinating your children. Make every attempt to come to a decision together, taking into account the best interests of your children.

 

In the meantime while either discussing the issue with your co-parent or waiting for the vaccine to become available, take the everyday steps recommended by doctors and health care officials to keep your child flu-free:

 

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice) especially after coughing or sneezing. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

 

• Cough and sneeze into a sleeve or tissue. (If a tissue is used, throw the tissue away immediately). Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

 

• Stay at least six feet away from people who are sick.

 

• Stay home from school if sick, and stay away from sick people until they are better.

 

Keep surfaces like bedside tables, bathroom surfaces, kitchen counters and toys for children clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

 

Sources:

 

·         While state awaits more vaccine, 2-1-1 answers H1N1 questions, The Union Leader

 

·         Frequently asked questions from parents about seasonal flu and H1N1 influenza, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

 

·         School reports more than 30 percent of students out sick, WMUR

 

·         Officials tout safety, efficacy of H1N1 vaccine, Meg Haskell, The Bangor Daily News

Holidays are just around the corner, are you prepared?

As the fall air turns crisp and cold and the days grow shorter, we are reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas are often the most celebrated and traditional family holidays, and now is a good time to make sure that you and your co-parent are on the same page. Discussing the schedule early will help insure that there will be no last minute snags.

If you have a parenting plan that has specific times in place for the holidays, make sure that your plans conform to the parenting time that you are scheduled to spend with your children. If you and your co-parent would like to deviate from the schedule in the parenting plan, put it in writing and if possible, have it approved as a court order. This may seem extreme, but remember that agreements made outside of court, and especially agreements that are not in writing, may not be enforceable and come holiday time you could be left high and dry if the other parent changes their mind.  

If you do not have specific times and instead have language to the affect of “as the parties agree” or have no court orders in place, discuss the schedule now well in advance of the holidays. The sooner you discuss the schedule, the sooner you will know if there are going to be difficulties agreeing on parenting time and whether you may need to seek court orders. Remember, heading down to the courthouse on December 24th at 2:00 pm to attempt to get an ex-parte emergency order is not the ideal way to spend your holidays.