There are different answers to this question. However, the answer is clear when you and your former spouse have a minor child in common. In the event that you do not, then you pretty much move on in your life and start rebuilding your life as a single person.
As much as some people may think, “I am finally divorced; my former spouse is out of my life!” Think again! If you have a child together, both parents must sharpen their communication skills with each other, stop communicating through the child, and talk to the other parent.
We can begin with the parent that has been awarded the majority of overnight contact with the child; this is the parent with whom the child primarily resides. The court views this parent as having the special privilege of having the child with him or her on a primary basis, therefore that parent has a greater role of responsibility to keep the other parent informed as to the happenings in the child’s life, regardless of whether the other parent requests information about the child or not. What does it mean to have a “greater role of responsibility?” This means that the parent with majority time sharing carries the burden of always keeping the other parent informed regarding the child’s education, medical issues, activities and upbringing.
For example, when the child receives a progress report or report card from school, it is the responsibility of the parent with majority timesharing to make sure that the other parent receives a copy of these documents. This is very important because (1) the other parent has a right to be informed as to the child’s progress in their education, (2) the other parent is also able to praise the child for their good work in school and, (3) if the child is doing poorly in school, the other parent also has the opportunity to help the child improve their grades when the child is visiting with him or her and, (4) the other parent has a right to jointly confer and make decisions concerning the child’s education plan.
Each parent must notify the other parent promptly of any serious illness or accident affecting the child. Keep in mind that if it is an emergency situation, you do not have to get the other parent’s permission to seek medical treatment for the child, take the child to the emergency room and immediately contact the other parent and inform them of the situation.
Whenever the child is participating in any extra-curricular activities, each parent is allowed to be present. For example, if the child is involved in sports, just because it is not the other parent’s scheduled weekend with the child, it does not mean that the other parent is not allowed to go to the park and enjoy the ball game too. What the court encourages is for both parents to be in attendance, not necessarily seated together, but at least showing a united front in providing support for the child. Despite the parents divorcing one another, neither parent is ending the relationship with the child they have in common.
Not everyone is able to communicate about his or her child with the other parent. Sometimes parents can communicate and think of the child first, but then again there are parents that just cannot get along because things maybe too emotional or he or she just cannot carry on a civilized conversation with one another. There are options to assist the parents in communicating including using email. Email communication is helpful because the parents do not have to speak to one another face to face, but yet keep each other informed. In addition, email can keep everyone civilized because the communication is documented. Another option is keep a notebook and exchange the notebook with the child at each child exchange. The parent who has the notebook would write in information or news about the child including how the child is doing in school, what is the child’s current health condition, and what are the child’s upcoming events and activities. A parent can even include documents with the notebook such as progress reports, receipt from a doctor’s visit, and pictures of the child. The child should not be involved in carrying the notebook for exchange between the parents or writing in the notebook. Just remember communication is key, that way both parents are always on the same page when it comes to the child.