Divorce, Leaving a Power Vaccuum

*the following is a repost from 12-4-11

There is no battle as harsh as a battle over children.  Many don’t expect events of their divorce to unfold as they do.  There is a naivete` that once you have decided on divorce, your spouse will see the benefits and go along with it.


Unfortunately, the divorcing party (petitioner) has thought about divorce for a long time, years perhaps.  When that person breaks the bad news to an unsuspecting partner, the souse feels blind sided.  The spouse may have realized there were problems, but mistakenly believed that love would win out and the two of you would end up working things out.


Unhealthy patterns that went unchecked for years of a relationship do not just vanish during the divorce process and the necessary interactions that follow for couples with children.  On the contrary, those patterns are greatly exacerbated!  Whatever power struggles went on during the marriage will continue in the setting of divorce.


When an event leads to the need for intervention, in the setting of these unhealthy relationship patterns, it will lead one parent to plead their case with anyone who they believe can help them.  Rather than ask the Parenting consultant or Parenting time expediter for what it is they want, they plead their case, usually with high emotion.  They may be asking the court authority to intervene and “change” the other party.  The court authority cannot change someone and they cannot court order them to change.  If your ex is a jerk, they are just a jerk, and unless they decide they want to change on their own, odds are slim that they will ever change.


When one concerns themselves with pleading their case or convincing others that they are not the bad guy, they forget to use and protect their power.  If you have an issue that you need a parenting consultant to decide for you, try to make the request clear and possible.  Do not say too much or place blame.  The problem is that by the point you have decided to contact a court authority, you have tried working with your ex and are exasperated.  You forget that they do not know why you are so exasperated.  They come in with things in full swing, in a he said she said scenario.  To make a decision on your case, they don’t really need to know what went on prior to their involvement.  This is where mistakes come in.  You can get so wrapped up in your ex’s response or telling all the reasons why your ex is a terrible person that you forget what you started out trying to accomplish.  You may be overlooking details or not following procedures.  If that happens you have left a power vacuum and your ex is going to step in and fill the void.


When making a request from a parenting consultant or other authority, there is a process that you should follow.  First you must contact the other parent with a clear request and do so as business like as possible.  Leave some time, for example, one week.  If it is a time sensitive matter, give as much time as possible.  If you get no response or the answer did not resolve the issue, now is the time to contact the parenting consultant with your request.  Allow time, depending on the time sensitive nature of the issue.  If possible, allow a week for the parenting consultant to intervene.  If no response by in that time frame, place a brief phone call to inquire if the parenting consultant received your email/letter/phone call and ask when you could expect an answer.  Hopefully they will follow up and make a decision.


Suppose the parenting consultant has made a decision that you do not like.  Should you call and plead your case again?  No.  You should not.  A parenting consultant is not going to change their decision.  That will make them appear wishy-washy and persuadable.  They will not want to open the door to the parties always coming back at them for their decisions.  They also want to resolve issues and move on, in hopes that you can move on, too.


To keep your power remember, if you are the one making the request, the ball is in your court.  Make sure that you are the one giving details so that your ex doesn’t fill in details from their perspective.  This is your request, your issue, you hang onto control.  Keep it simple.  Too much unnecessary supplemental information can just confuse the issue.  For example:


Your son, Luke, has football practice on a Saturday, but it is his father’s weekend.  You want Luke to go to football.  You have invested money and don’t feel it is right if he can only go when you agree to take him or if he can only go when practice falls on your weekend.  You have asked Luke’s father if he will take Luke to football practice on Saturday and he has refused.  You countered with an offer to pick Luke up for practice and return him to his dad’s immediately after.  Now you can contact the parenting consultant to tell her that Luke has football practice, but his father has refused to take him.  Offer what you can do as solutions, but stop at giving your opinion on what his dad should or should not do.  Tell the parenting consultant that you are willing to take Luke (if you are) and return him to his dad’s after practice.  Let the PC know that he has refused and then stop right there.  You may have all kinds of suggestions for how the Dad should do his part and you may be mad as hell that he is being a jerk, but you will get farther by laying back and letting this all unfold.  So far, you still have the power.  If you go off on a rant about the father, you will come across as someone trying to punish the father, control the father or score points with the PC. 
You want to have your son’s needs met.  That is what you want to make clear.  After you have stopped as I mentioned above, the parenting consultant will contact the other parent.  The focus is rightly on him.  His son has to get to football practice.  What is he going to do about it?  He is on the spot now.  That accurately shows where the problem in this situation is.  You don’t want it to be about you.


In the situation above. it could unfold any number of ways.  Maybe Luke will have to miss practice.  That sucks, of course, but is not the end of the world.  It may seem like it, but it isn’t.  Maybe the pc will decide that dad should take Luke to practice.  Well, if he is supposed to and he doesn’t do so, let the parenting consultant know that.  Let the coach know that you will get Luke there on your weekends, but cannot guarantee he will make it on the other weekends.  This is really all you can do.  If you have to, do it the same way next time.


It sounds very frustrating, I know.  It sucks when co parenting doesn’t work.  What is important is to go through proper channels.  Hang onto the power of the request.  Be prepared for all scenarios should the pc be negotiating back and forth between parents with what you are willing and able to do and what you are not willing to do.  Keep it about your child and about what you can do to help the situation.  Don’t expect a jerk to not be a jerk.  Remember, you, you, you.  Don’t tell the other parent what to do on their weekend and don’t allow anyone to tell you what to do when it is your weekend.


Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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