Divorces are sad and hard on for everybody in the family, including the dog. This is especially true in historically "traditional" households where mom primarily stays home with the kids and cares for the house and the dog and picks the curtains and sets the play dates and dentist appointments and makes the lunches, and volunteers at the school... while dad works long hours to pay for the house, the dog, the curtains, the braces, the groceries, the play dates, the private school....
In this family model, the Dad relies on the Mom to update him on the days' happenings. She fills him in on the kids' schedule and needs, she tells him everything from "how it went at the orthodontist" to the size of the new shoes she just bought for their toddler. Armed with his update, Dad comes home from work, tells the toddler how pretty her new sparkly shoes are and makes her squeal while he tickles her and tells her what a big girl she is. He then asks his middle-schooler how the orthodontist visit went and they both laugh when she smiles to shows him her new lime and orange rubber band combo. Sound familiar? This division of labor works amazingly well when the parenting team is intact -- when each team member knows his role and plays his position. However, when the team splits up and a divorce and custody battle ensues...yikes! Now mom has done everything for the children and dad does nothing. He never takes them to the doctor for their check ups, doesn't know their teachers and only ever cooks pancakes (and only on Pancake Sundays). Sure the kids adore him and think he's an awesome Dad but Mom says that's because of how she worked to keep him in the know. Without her (and he is in fact without her now) he knows nothing about the kids, how can he care for them, he works all the time...and so on...
So here's the part where we come to the tips section. This situation is not insurmountable. In fact with a little effort and purpose, you can change the situation easily and forever. What you can't do when a custody battle is brewing, is "nothing". Recognize that divorce changes the roles for everybody. Mom will most likely have to get a job and figure out how to balance working and mothering. Dad has to figure out how to balance working with fathering. Here are some steps that will help protect your parental rights and bring you up to speed on your children at the same time:
Get familiar with your children's school. This can be done at anytime. Start tomorrow if you can.
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April Jones is a lawyer at the Jones Law Firm in Greenwood Village, Colorado.