It is in the best interest of the parties in a family law case to learn about their duties and responsibilities and to preserve their assets and comply with Court rules. Here I will go over a two of the several rules laid out in the STANDING TEMPORARY ORDER FOR FAMILY LAW CASES WITH MINOR CHILDREN but in no way are the ones unlisted here any less important. Be sure to do your research and seek legal advice if you have any questions.
TREATMENT OF CHILDREN
The safety, financial security, and well-being of the children involved in this case are the Court’s primary concern. Parents should follow these guidelines:
4.1. It is the law, except in certain rare circumstances, that both parents will share parental responsibility for all minor children involved in this case. The law requires parents to share the children’s time and to participate together in making all important decisions concerning the children. The law expects parents to put aside their feelings and cooperate on all decisions involving the children. The following guidelines are appropriate in most cases:
- Children have a right to a loving open, and continuing relationship with both parents. They have the right to express love, affection and respect for one parent in the presence of the other parent.
- Neither parent may alienate a child’s affection for the other parent.
- Parents must separate any bad feelings for one another from their duties as parents. Their duty is to share the children’s time and share in making parenting decisions. Children must be free to draw their own conclusions about each parent, without the prejudicial influences of the other parent.
- Children have the right to never hear a parent, or a relative or a friend of a parent, belittle or degrade the other person.
- Children have the right to be free of guilt because the parents have decided to separate. They are entitled to honest answers to questions about changes taking place in the family makeup. However, information regarding the divorce case should not be discussed with the children.
- Parents should never be so preoccupied with their own problems that they fail to meet the children’s needs. Separation of the parents usually has a worse impact on the children than on the parents, a fact both parents should never forget.
- Each parent should openly, honestly, respectfully and regularly communicate with the other parent to avoid misunderstandings. They should never argue about the children in front of them.
- Parents should discuss all differences between them regarding their separation, financial issues and parenting decisions out of the presence of the children. Both parents should always try to present a united front in handling any problems with the children.
- Children have the right to regular and continuing contact with both parents. Parents should arrange all visitation and exchanges between themselves and not through the children. The children should never be the messenger between the parents.
- Visitation plans should be kept and never cancelled unless absolutely necessary. If plans change, children should be given an explanation, preferably in advance and by the parent causing the cancellation.
4.2. Common courtesies (politeness, promptness, readiness, calling to notify if one is going to be late) should always be observed when picking up and dropping off children. These times can be very stressful on children, so it is imperative that parents always behave as responsible adults.
- Between visits, children should be encouraged to contact the absent parent by letter and phone, frequently and continuously.
- Parent/child access and child support, while they may be emotionally connected, are separate and distinct under the law. Accordingly, a child’s right to access to his or her parent does not depend upon the payment of child support.
- A child should never be the delivery person for support payments or other communication between the parents.
- Both parents are entitled to participate in and attend all special activities in which their children are engaged, such as religious activities, school programs, sports events and other extra-curricular activities and programs.
- Parents should share information concerning children’s activities and school information.
When a court issues an order during or after a divorce, such as an official visitation schedule or regular support payments, it becomes legally binding. This means you must abide by the conditions laid out in the order, and if you willfully disobey, you can be subject to court penalties. This is known as being held in contempt.
Committing contempt can include both civil and criminal penalties. These can include fines, paying the other party’s attorney fees, compensatory custody time or even a jail sentence.