Years of Fighting Over Parental Rights Resolved in Hours: Two parents had been fighting for years in family court; the father felt shut out of his daughters’ lives in many subtle ways, such as he never saw his daughters’ report cards. In two sessions, acting in my capacity as a court-appointed mediator, I was able to address the father’s concerns about being excluded from certain aspects of his daughters’ lives. And the parties’ years of litigating were over.
When you’re in the midst of a messy litigated divorce, it’s easy to overlook discussing the finer points of parental rights. Your two attorneys draw up a parenting plan that deals with all the global issues; who has residential custody, is there joint or sole legal custody, and what are the regular days and holidays each parent sees their children. But the subtle points of parental rights often get left out and can become a source of conflict between the parties as they co-parent after the divorce.
In mediation we deal with these parental rights including the following:
- Don’t be in the dark about any illnesses: Regardless of whether you and or ex have joint custody or one party has sole custody (with only one parent making medical decisions) both parents should be provided with information about any medications your Child is taking. And if either parent has any knowledge of any illness or accident or other circumstances affecting your child’s health, you want an agreement spelling out that this parent must promptly notify the other parent.
- Medical reports: Each parent should be entitled to complete detailed information from any doctor or health care provider who attends the Child.
- Dual Notification of Report cards and more: Each parent should be entitled to complete detailed information from any teacher or school who gives instructions to their Child, including the dates and times of teachers’ conferences. Your agreement should state that both parents are entitled to “dual notification” from the schools attended by your Children. And of course, you don’t want to miss any school events of your Children. You you’re your agreement to specifically state that each parent shall be invited to and may attend all school events of your Child (as well any other extracurricular or camp activities the Child is participating in.)
In the case I mediated, the mother was very angry at the father and deliberately withheld from the school notification that the Children had a father who wanted information about his daughters. He never saw a report card and didn’t even know the dates of their graduations. Through mediation, the mother realized that she was hurting her daughters by excluding from their lives the father they loved. And she finally was ready to cooperate.