Smart Parenting During and After Divorce: Co-Parenting Responsibilities of the Visiting Parent
For the purposes of this article, visiting parent refers to the parent who sees the children for the minority of the time. Terms concerning custody can be confusing. A "visiting" parent might be a parent who has joint custody but sees the children less of the time. A visiting parent might also be a noncustodial parent who sees the child less of the time.
Certainly, many parents who see the children for the lesser portion of time want to see their children more, and do not because of either practical reasons (the children do not live close by, work schedule precludes it, and so on) or legal reasons (for instance, it is not part of the legal agreement or judicial order).
Keep Apprised of Important Information
The visiting parent may at times feel out of the loop with respect to things that are going on in her children's lives. The custodial parent should make an active effort to keep the visiting parent up-to-date with important information, but the visiting parent should make an active effort to get this information as well. For instance, you should not rely on the co-parent to send you every little piece of paper that comes home from school. Speak to the officials at your child's school and see whether they require any letters of consent or legal paperwork for you to be allowed to speak directly with your children's teachers. I think this is absolutely critical for noncustodial parents, because noncustodial parents often complain that they feel as though they are treated like second-class citizens. This need not be the case. As long as you do not make a nuisance of yourself, your children's teachers should be very happy to speak with you. If they are not, find out why. You may have to provide them with a letter of consent from the custodial parent, or a notarized document saying that you are permitted to have access to the children's teachers. The same goes for contact with your children's doctors.
Attend Extracurricular Activities
Sports events and other after-school activities often run on schedules that are generally provided at the beginning of the school year. Ask the co-parent to send you copies of the schedules that pertain to your children's after-school activities. Going to after-school activities and simply watching patiently in the background is a good way to see your children between visits. Be certain that you work this out with the custodial parent first, so that, at least from the co-parent's point of view, your attendance will not be a surprise.
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