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Parenting After Divorce - A Primer

Kentucky legislators and judges have a lot to say about matters of child custody and parenting time in divorces. There are hundreds of statutes and thousands of pages of judicial opinions addressing issues of jurisdiction, of best interests, of factors to be used to determine what happens in modifications and what happens when someone leaves the immediate area. Sadly, in all of this material, there is very little said about how to act as a parent.

In Louisville, we have long had mandatory parent education in divorces to help with these issues, similar projects have long been underway in Fayette and Hardin Counties, and this effort is spreading. In my practice, this training has been worthwhile, and is oriented to concepts which should be intuitive.

Much of the conflict which happens after the divorce decree regarding child custody is avoidable. Smart litigants adhere to a code of conduct which takes the following premises to heart:

1. Neither parent disparages the other in the presence of the children, and keeps their friends and family members from doing so.

2. Each parent strives to confine communications to that which is necessary, and avoids accusatory or critical text messages or emails.

3. Each parent avoids sending messages to the other through the children.

4. Each parent shares information about medical/dental/school appointments, and each parent works to attend those.

5. Each parent makes sure to send the child to the other home with clean clothing and shoes.

6. The parents share in the responsibilities of extracurricular activities.

7. Each parent engages in age appropriate activities with the children and with significant others.

8. Each parent tries to set a good example for the children with regard to activity, entertainment and alcohol consumption.

9 Each parent avoids trying to control the activities of the other parent's household.

10. Each parent avoids trying to hand-off parenting responsibilities to any new significant other.