Legal decision making in Arizona (formerly known as "custody") usually refers to how major decisions about a child's healthcare, education, and (sometimes) religion will be made, but within those broad categories, most of the issues that crop up between parents are actually about far more specific disagreements. Recently, a dispute between Michigan parents about whether and when to vaccinate their child boiled over into a citation for contempt and a jail sentence for the child's mother.
One of the most destructive behaviors we see from divorced or divorcing parents is telling the child that he or she must keep secrets from the other parent. Sometimes it is done in an effort to conceal objectionable behavior ("I don't want Mom to know that I let you stay up until midnight") and other times, it is a misguided attempt to maintain privacy ("She doesn't need to know what we do when you're here"). Regardless of the reason, asking a child to keep secrets places stress on the child and sends the message that the child is teaming up with one parent against the other. Sometimes the offended parent even storms to his/her lawyer's office and demands that the lawyer "tell the judge make him stop telling the child to keep secrets." To be fair, we see this type of behaviors from both mothers and fathers; however, this article, which could also be titled Co-parenting Through Conflict - Doing it the Right Way!, focuses on a situation where Dad, for whatever reason, had asked his young son to keep a secret from Mom.