As divorce lawyers, the harder part of our job is to deal with cases involving children.
To help my clients through a difficult contested divorce in NY, I often use the analogy that children are a common business owned and managed by the former spouses. Think of yourself and your former spouse as business partners. Your kids are now your business that you jointly own and will operate until they are emancipated. You both made a significant investment into this business and now it’s your duty to make sure your business becomes successful. Children, very much like a corporation, have all the rights that an individual has. Business law requires that principals act in the best interests of their businesses. As a parent partner, you are similarly required to act in the best intrests of your “kid business”.
Top divorce lawyers in NYC will tell you that child custody is one of the more difficult issues to resolve in a divorce. However, irrespective of how custody is decided, you should understand that you each have different positions in this “kid business”. If one parent has sole custody, that parent can be considered the CEO and the other parent is the President. Each role is equally important to the overall success of a business but differers in responsibilities. If you share joint custody, you are co-CEO’s. The board of directors are your family members. You both also have seats on this board. Each of you has a unique set of duties that must be met in relationship to your children. One parent may be in charge of more of the day-to-day operations, and the other parent may be in charge of long term developmental tasks. As CEO and President or co-CEO’s, you are both held accountable to the board of directors and to each other for your actions and the tasks you must perform.
Divorce lawyers in NYC often struggle with helping their clients resolve the future living arrangements and visitation with children. In many large companies, the management works from different offices and locations. One way to approach this is to understand that as parent partners and “kid business” officers, you too have different offices that are your respective homes. When the children are with you, you become solely responsible for their well being and their comfort in your physical domain. You are also responsible for any other people that are interacting with the “kid business” in your homes. As such, you must make sure that all actions and interactions are in the best interests of your joint business.
All good divorce lawyers know that the way former spouses interact with one another makes the biggest difference in the relationship they have with their children. In corporations, officers and employees are required to adhere to a certain degree of professionalism when acting in their official capacities. This includes the way they interact with other employees and people outside the corporation. Companies demand that all communications and actions are professional and follow guidelines that uphold the image of the business. Today, this includes all email and social media communications, even those done at leisure. The same can be said about parent partners and their “kid business”. As partners and officers, you must remain and act professional with each other. That requires controlling your emotions and feelings in favor of your children. This can be difficult because you were once friends and lovers, and certainly some emotions and feelings, good or bad, will remain. But now you are parent partners with your children’s best interests in mind. So if you have to discuss visitation, school, extracurricular activities or anything else related to your children, do it the same way you would act at work. Keep your communications straight to the point and use professional language. If you are disagreeing, state your opinion but keep in mind that you are talking to another officer of the “kid business” and it’s in everyone’s interest to keep a professional demeanor.
In a corpoartion, decisions are made after careful consideration. Before making decisions, officers and partners submit their research and support their positions. The same should apply to your children. Do your homework about what you are proposing and let the other parent know you have done your research to support your position. Both sides should understand and approach decision making not as a power struggle but an educated and well thought out discussion.
Divorce lawyers know that in a law firm or any other business, it’s important to make sure that partners are highly respected by the staff. As parent partners, you must make sure that the “kid business” respects and values each of you. No matter how much you may disagree with something that is done by the other parent partner, that disagreement should be handled professionally with that partner, and not with the children. The children should always see their “upper management” as their leaders and those who know what’s best for them. When officers undermine each other in a business, it leads to confusion, low moral, and eventually to poor business performance. Undermining each other infant of your children may have a very similar outcome and should be avoided entirely.
Remember, you both started a business by having children, and the children will need you both to love them, support them, and care for them. Being great partners in a business doesn’t mean you have to be best friends, eat dinner together, live in the same house, or constantly be around. Partners also don’t have to like each other. As long as partners are united by a common goal to make money and succeed in business and are willing to perform their duties, the venture can be successful. Similarly, if do your job as a parent and respect each other as partners, you can raise great kids and you will reap the amazing rewards of a successful “kid business”.