Practical Parenting and Divorce: Parenting Time Agreements in California

Introduction

I have written a large number of published and electronic articles on Practical Parenting over the years. Having two decades of experience in the healing profession of psychology, being a co-chair of a family law firm, and working with thousands of children during this time, I have seen the ill effects that two parties at war can have on the delicate psyche of children. Having two children myself, I feel the need to do something about this trend. While I am happily married with two wonderful children, the driving force behind these articles is a deep and resonating need I have to heal the psychological wounds created from a trend I call Divisive Parenting.

These articles may seem brash. But don’t mistake my brashness for the passion I have to help children through educating their parents on an option for parenting. I have experienced divorce first hand (personally in my life), and have also witnessed second hand the ill effects divisive parenting creates in my psychological practice… too many times to be counted, I have witnessed the travesty that occurs when a child is re used as a Pawn between a waring King and Queen in a tragic game of Family Law (Chess).

They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, 23 until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. 24 Someone bring me a sword.”

A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, 25 “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.”

1 Kings 3:23-25

When separation and divorce occur, the family splits into two. In a biblical essence, the merciful King Solomon offered the two waring mothers a sword to divide the child into two. While this may seem absurd, the waring between two splitting parents causes severe psychological harm, and in essence, splits the child into two. While this passage appears to be a metaphor, the emotional damage caused to the child is no less caustic than being split in half.

In many circumstances, the raw emotions that created the relational (marital) division are too great for one or both parties to let go. In these circumstances, one or both parties may bring these raw emotional states into the business like environment of the court, upsetting the natural balance of the parent child relationship both parties have with their children. While this is a less than desirable circumstance for children, it nevertheless is a very common theme within the ivory halls of a California Superior Court. But this is not the only way.

In a recent article published by Maples Family Law, PARENTING TIME AGREEMENTS IN CALIFORNIA: THE BASICS the team at Maples Family Law, explores the basics of time sharing agreements, how these agreements work, and legal issues that can arise when an agreement is breached by one or both parties. In this article, I will explore the Practical Parenting Solution.

The Basics of Parenting Time Agreements

Parenting time agreements, commonly known as custody or visitation agreement covers important information about how much time a child will spend with one or both of their parents and who will make important decisions on behalf of the child. The time factor can include how much time a parent can have with a child in general and will also include orders regarding holiday visitation arrangements. Decision making capacity includes the ability one or both parents have to make educational and/or healthcare decisions that will assure the care and general welfare of the child.

The Practical Parenting Perspective

Get Along & Move On!!! Your Child’s Mental Health Depends on It!

It may have been tough when you were together with your significant other. But you chose them! Even if it was a mistake, you will now be together for the rest of your life as it relates to the life of your child. Your child is a product between your ex and yourself, and even though your union may be over, your child will always call them “dad” or “mom,” “father” or “mother”, “papa” or “mamma,” or some derivative of those parental names we all craved to hear come from their lips as the first word to leave their mouth.

Remember that time? You probably shared it together… and the practical parenting perspective is no different. Share it! Share them! Share in their journey.

Legal Issues in Parenting Time Agreements

When parents decide to split, legal rights have to be divided in a nature that assures the best interest of the child. Maples Family Law explores 5 areas of conflictual issues that can arise within the context of a Parenting Time Agreement. These Include:

  1. School or childcare
  2. Religious activities or institutions
  3. Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs
  4. Visits to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist or other health professionals (except in emergency situations)
  5. Sports, summer camp, vacations or extracurricular activities
  6. Travel (MAPLES FAMILY LAW)

The Practical Parenting Perspective

  1. School or Childcare – If your child was set before your split, leave them where they are at. When you split the family, you split the core foundation from which your child developed. They will be emotional, confused, will possibly lash out, or even worse, develop true psychological symptoms that may need to be addressed by a professional. Don’t add fuel to this flame. Keep them stationary in every aspect they can remain stable within. This will help them adapt to living between both homes.
  2. Religious activities or institutions – See Above. If you let them be part of a religious institution pre-separation, keep them active in that. Spirituality provides a healing basis for the psyche while it undergoes the trauma present in a family separation. Don’t mess your children up more by sending conflicting values that were not present before the separation. Don’t get a Holier than Though attitude. If you never brought your children to church pre-separation don’t expect your ex to go along with requests to send them to church after your separation. If your children did attend a religious activity pre-separation, then BY GOD, keep them involved. It will help them heal… *** If you and your significant other can agree… great job. Spirituality will give your child some aspect of grounding during this difficult time in their life. ***If you can agree on religious activities, your child will benefit from learning a moral based value system that will help them integrate the trauma present.
  3. Psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health counseling or therapy needs – Your child again may need an independent party to talk to. I have worked with thousands of children, and have seen the ill effects divorce has on their emergent psyche. However, this does not have to be permanent… and I am here to tell you, IT IS UP TO YOU! Don’t blame your significant other for the problems created between you two. It takes TWO to TANGO. An independent listener will be a great addition to your team, and will give your child a voice in learning about their emotions. Allowing them the option to understand their emotions separate from the conflict can help them learn to navigate their new living arrangements and fosters independent and healthy emotional development.
  4. Visits to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist or other health professionals (except in emergency situations) – Do you really want to argue about your child’s health? This is a two way street. Parents should make decisions regardless about what is in their children’s best interest… But values about religion, schooling, medicine, and other forms of medical treatment oftentimes conflict. ***Doctors are there to treat your children, to assure their health, and make sure they develop in a healthy manner. This is the same for psychological and/or psychiatric doctors. Many times I have seen medical and/or psychological/psychiatric treatment used as fodder to be slung at the other party. This tactic is unbecoming, and it oftentimes shows where a conflicting parents interests truly exist. Think about what is in the best interest of your child. If you don’t a third party will (Court)
  5. Sports, summer camp, vacations or extracurricular activities – Send your children to these at all costs. They provide your children healthy coping skills, gets them outside the conflicting aspects of a child custody case, and support their overall emotional health and development. It’s your choice. Expose your children to great things and achieve great results. Expose them to the ugliness of family conflicts, and see what happens. The choice is yours… and your ex’s to make.
  6. Travel – See #5. it is no different. There is no greater form of education other than exposure to grow your child’s mind and to assure their success.

Conclusion

I want to thank everyone who reads my blog. My vision, to Inspire others to Believe… Achieve… and Advance Confidently in the Direction of Their Dreams!

My intent with these articles is to help parents understand the emotional hurdles that family conflict can create. I am here to be an advocate for the psycho-spiritual health for children.

It is my goal in writing about practical parenting to provide an interactive forum for parents to understand the emotional difficulties divorce, separation, and parenting time arrangements can have on children. If you have specific questions, comments, or concerns, I am happy to address them on this forum or even possibly in my next article as a joint venture with Maples Family Law.

THANK YOU… THANK YOU… THANK YOU!!!

©2019 by Dr. Thomas Maples

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