Die-hard TLC fans will remember Jon Gosselin as the other half of the popular show Jon and Kate Plus 8. Parents, Jon and Kate Gosselin had twins and then, several years later, conceived sextuplets bringing their total number of children to a whopping eight. Fast-forward to the present, Jon and Kate are no longer married and are attempting to co-parent their eight children. On a recent appearance on The Steve Harvey Show, Jon shared the following custody woes with the audience: he has not seen all eight children together in three years; when the children are dropped off at his residence, he often has no idea which of his children will be arriving; he hasn't seen or spoken to one of his sons in over a year; and there is "zero" communication between Jon and Kate.
While in many cases, co-parenting is by no means an easy task, especially when the marriage or relationship ended on a bad note, the vital importance co-parenting plans in custody cannot be downplayed. Not only is it beneficial for the children to see parents who can successfully work together, even though they are no longer in a relationship, but the court also looks favorably upon those parties able to co-parent effectively.
Using Jon and Kate as the example, here are some do's (and don'ts) of good co-parenting. First, all children under a custody order need to be at all custody exchanges. This means that if Jon is entitled to exercise custody of all eight children, Kate needs to be dropping off all eight children for Jon's custody time. One party shouldn't have to guess which, if any, of their children will be showing up for custody time. Obeying a court order or agreement will keep any co-parenting relationship running smoothly. If issues come up and the current arrangement isn't working for the parties or the children, it may be time for a modification rather than ignoring or disobeying the court order. Second, communication is key so Jon's allegations that he doesn't know which children will be coming for his custodial periods and that he and Kate have "zero" communication make it impossible to co-parent.
Regardless of how the marriage or relationship ended, parents need to be able to speak with each other regarding custody exchanges and what is going on with the children. There are a variety of ways to communicate if phone calls or in-person contact isn't working. Parties can communicate via e-mail and text messages to cut down on any conflict. For those who simply cannot get along under any circumstances, websites like Our Family Wizard allow for communication within the confines of the program. All communication is recorded and should it ever become necessary, parties can print off the messages for exhibits in court. Communication with the children is equally important. Jon's claims that he has not had contact with one of his sons in over a year may reflect poorly on both parties. If Jon is attempting to contact the child and Kate is preventing communication, the court may fault her for alienation of the father-child relationship. Alternatively, if Jon simply isn't reaching out to his son, the court may consider the bond between the two in any future custody action.
If you are thinking of separating from the parent of your child or are having issues co-parenting contact the family law attorneys at McMorrow Law, LLC at 724-940-0100.