Separation and divorce mean that parents will have to learn to communicate and coordinate parenting efforts in an entirely new way. Co-parenting is essential to your child’s well-being in the long run, and the efforts each parent make toward successful co-parenting will be taken into account by the court when making a custody and visitation determination. While parents often remember to discuss and take into account the usual issues such school, homework, and extracurriculars, they may overlook planning for emergency situations.
One type of emergency would be where the child sustains a serious injury that requires immediate medical attention. Although typically parents have a certain amount of time to notify the other parent of emergency medical treatment, good co-parenting typically indicates immediate notification is the better route. For example, if a child needs emergency surgery for appendicitis, the parent taking the child to the hospital should make every effort to reach the other parent and notify him or her what is going on, even though it is not that parent’s visitation or residential time.
A type of emergency that is easier to plan are those involving the parents. Parents may have a large variety of emergencies that fall short of a medical emergency. Parents may have an unexpected meeting, a flat tire on the way to a custody exchange, or any other variety of problems that would prevent him or her from exercising normal visitation at the scheduled time. Parents should coordinate to plan ahead for these contingencies. Parents should discuss and have a plan in place for who will be hopefully responsible for picking up or dropping off the children in the event the parent cannot start or end visitation as normal. For example, parents may want to have a specific set of people, such as grandparents or trusted friends, that they could call to pick up the children or perform the exchange in their place. That way, if you get called into an emergency meeting at 5 pm such that you cannot be present at the typical child exchange, you can notify the other parent to expect your “alternate.” Although this is not a requirement and you can almost certainly send alternates to pick up in most situations, planning ahead and having a notification system in place with the other parent will keep it from being a surprise and will help reduce conflict in the future.
When you have children, it is very important to plan for the unexpected. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your children and how you can help make sure you are doing the necessary planning.