The Parenting Consultant Nightmare is Now Available!





Its here.  It’s here!!!  Much later than I had hoped, but it is here!  Editing is a tedious process and I have learned that for future books, but hopefully that makes this title user friendly. 

I am not a lawyer and I am not a psychologist, but this book has tips you need to avoid a Parenting Consultant Nightmare for your family.  If you read it and think that your parenting consultant should read it, do not give it to them personally.  Email me with their info and I will make them aware of the book and encourage them to read it.  You might get in trouble with your pc for implying they do not know what they are doing.  Allow me to take the risk for you!

Also, tell anyone you know who is living in Family Court hell that there is a guide to parenting consultants now available.

Buy it today on Amazon or Create space





Kids on Time




One of my most popular posts has been a post I wrote about Our Family Wizard.  I did not plan it that way, but that is far and above the most read post from my blog.  When I was court ordered to use it, I thought that it was wrong that one company gets all the business around the country.  When I divorced, that was the only program out there and I found much of it to be somewhat archaic.  I haven’t been on Our Family Wizard for a while to view anything other than emails, so I do not know if there have been improvements, but the icons drove me nuts.  They were very child like.  I do not know about you, but my kids were not the ones using the program.  My ex and I were.  I wanted a more grown up program.



Well, technology is catching up to the coparenting world and I have been connected to another coparenting tool by way of Twitter.  I wanted to pass it along as an alternative to Our Family Wizard.   It is called Kids on Time.  Check it out and let me know what you think of it.



Susan



Detailing Communications With a Parenting Consultant


When working with a parenting consultant or parenting time expediter, it is very important to keep detailed records.  I know it is hard to be organized when you are a single parent, but if you can keep detailed records as organized as possible, you can watch for inconsistencies in decisions. 

An easy way to do it is to buy a three ring binder and put all communications, or at the very least,  all of the parenting consultant or parenting time expediter decisions in chronological order.  It is much easier to find things when you keep them in one place and they are organized in some way that you can find them easily, should you need them.  It is much easier to have some order to these documents than it is to search the whole house.  If a three ring binder does not work, try to keep them in a drawer or even a box and categorize them by month and/or year.  However it works for you, treat these documents as important and with the mindset that you will need them at some time in the future.  You want to access these documents, know what the PC decided and why, if he or she has documented their decision.  This way, you can watch for inconsistencies and question them if they do not stay consistent.

For example, suppose two years ago they made a decision about soccer or hockey.  Your ex wanted your child to participate in sports.  Supposed the PC decided that sports are very important and he/she said they were allowing the other parent to take the child to hockey so that they could learn about teamwork, good sportsmanship and having fun with other children.  Suppose that now, you are requesting that you be allowed to take your child to softball practice and this time, the parenting consultant says no.  If you have kept that document, you can point out to the parenting consultant that he/she is giving you a different message than before.  Do not frame it as, “you allowed mom/dad to do it two years ago and now you are not allowing me to do it”, instead frame it as, “I do not understand why you thought sports were important two years ago, but now make a decision that does not support your previous decision.  Could you explain it to me so that I understand the difference?” 

Most parenting consultants will not change a decision because they do not want to appear easily swayed, however, you may have brought it to their attention that they are giving you mixed messages and that your child is getting mixed messages,  they may be more mindful of this in the future.

One last thing, when you have phone or in person communications with a parenting consultant or parenting time expediter, you should follow that up with an email to summarize the key points.  If you can do it the day of, or the following day, you will have record of dates and times and also what was discussed.  Here is an example:

Patty,

Yesterday we discussed which school the children will attend in the fall.  We also discussed how putting in place a process for weekend swaps when I have to work every 8th weekend.  Jim and I disagreed on both.  It is my understanding that you will be making a decision on these key points within one week. 

Please let me know if you should need more time or if this was not your understanding of yesterdays events.

Jamie

You should always cc the other parent.  They may be upset thinking that you are up to something.  Do not worry about that, it is their problem and not yours!  This is a way to keep track of all use of the parenting consultant, not to mess with your ex.  Besides, if your ex does send back some nasty reply (to all), the PC will see how they behave and that is always a good thing.

If the parenting consultant usually sends out a summary after a meeting or phone exchange, it is not necessary to send your own email.  The sole purpose for emailing the PC and the other parent is just to document what happened and when for your own use.













Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net





The Fundamentals of Coparenting, Part One: Trust and Reliability Issues








 



Those who have divorced, but still have a child that they share, have a history.  Usually, it is not a history that is easily forgiven or forgotten, but in the world of family court, that is exactly what you are expected to do.  The expectation is that the two of you no longer live together and so any issues that the two of you had has vanished, dissolved, just like the marriage.  Those issues no longer should matter and therefore, you are expected to “get along” and coparent.



 



Even though the family court claims to understand that there are gray areas in the law and cases must be examined on a case by case basis, they treat everyone as a one size fits all out come.  They want you to “get along” and coparent well.  Because they say you “must”, they believe that you “will”.  There life would be much easier if you would just obey.



 



What they do not understand is that the dynamics of your family did not happen overnight and those dynamics therefore, cannot be solved overnight.  There is no magic wand, no medication and no therapy that can “fix” what has for years been broken.



 



Any couple that got to the point where one of them decided that the “fix” for them was to end the relationship, did not make that decision because they wanted to invest any more time on this person who was toxic to their life.  For whatever reason, there was no basis for them to believe that this person would work with them on repairing the relationship.  They believed for whatever reason that they could not trust the other person to do any of the work it would take to get things back to a more positive coexistence or invest the time in making things better.



 



The family court does not see parents who can cooperate and have the basic fundamental ingredient, trust, as a key part of their relationship.  Those people do not need to have the court intervention and they divorce, set up a parenting plan, and go about their business because they did not trample on the other person’s soul, like those who have lived together in hostility, disrespect and a lack of boundaries for most, if not all, of their lives together.



 



Family court authorities frequently decide that people who cannot coparent have some form of mental illness, even when they have no education or background to be qualified to make that call.  Parenting consultants and custody evaluators are the worst at doing this.  They are ignorant when it comes to hostile relationships and I frequently call them on it when they label parents in a case as “crazy” or “mentally ill”.  I will ask them to consider the term codependent because that is often the reality of the situation.  Most of these high conflict divorces are products of a codependent relationship. 



 



In the codependent divorce, you have at least one party who is desperately trying to free themselves from this toxic relationship, only to have the court authorities demand they continue the relationship “in the spirit of coparenting”. 



Imagine the case where a victim of domestic violence has finally found the strength to break free, has experienced the sweet feeling of freedom and independence, only to be told, “not so fast.  You have children together.  You must continue to work on the relationship.”  How absolutely cruel is that? 



 



What about the case in which a person who has tried having a relationship with someone who has chemical dependency issues?  This person is tried of being the “heavy” in the relationship, always having to be the one who did all the work of everything.  The decision was made that if they had to be the responsible party, they would go out on their own and be responsible for all the work of the children.  Now the court authorities tell you that you have to continue to do the heavy lifting AND be responsible for the other parent getting information about the children.  Information they were too drunk or stoned to care about before, but now the responsible parent must make sure to provide anything the irresponsible parent wants or face contempt of court.  And God forbid they forget to add a doctor appointment to the Our Family Wizard calendar!  It hardly seems fair, does it?



 



The problem with these kinds of coparental relationships is that there has been a breakdown in trust.  At least one party knows that the other will not do their part.  They have stuck their neck out too many times and know that the relationship is futile and that there is no way they can trust the other person.  Even in the case where divorce occurred as the result of a spouse’s affair, where is trust?  How do you trust someone with your children, when they could not be trusted to keep their commitment to the parent of those children?



 



In all cases of high conflict divorce, trust has been lost.  No one wants to invest time into repairing a relationship that they have already put behind them and understands that the other person is incapable of doing their fair share in maintaining.



 



Is there an answer to this?  Yes.  The courts should do the paperwork of divorce and allow parents to do their own thing in their own home.  If that means one parent will never go out to access information they seek, so be it.  Relationships cannot be court ordered and no one should have to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to try and salvage a relationship that they knew long ago was not worth their time.  There are gray areas in family law and gray areas in parental relationships.  The court doesn’t have time or the qualifications to deal with those “gray area” relationships and they should not try to.  Allow the parent who knows that if they could not trust the other person to stop and pick up some milk on the way home; they won’t be able to trust them to be a responsible parent.  When you cannot rely on someone for simple things, you should not be expected to rely on them to coparent your children and the court should not expect you to.  When one parent continually asks the court to “make” the other parent provide them with information that they could easily access on their own, court authorities should be able to understand who the responsible parent is and tell the other to sink or swim.



Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Myths About Our Family Wizard

White Unicorn in Field
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The following is my most popular post ever.  It has been updated slightly.  When I started trying to bring a new High Conflict Program to Minnesota, I removed the post out of respect for Our Family Wizard.  They asked me to remove it, and offered to help me get the High Conflict program started in Minnesota.  Normally, I stand behind what I write and what I believe, but at the time, I thought more people could be helped with the High Conflict program than could be helped by this post.  As Family Court just keeps getting worse for families, I have decided that I need to re-post this.  I think it is information that is helpful to people.  That is what I am trying to do.  As you will note, I do find certain portions of Our Family Wizard to be convenient.  The goal when I wrote this back in 2011 was to help people stay focused on the reality that there is very little any Family Court tool can do to help you when you have a hostile co-parent.  That is a sad fact of reality.  Below is the re-post of sad realities.

*The following is a repost from 12-15-11

Our Family Wizard is a communication tool that the courts often order families to use to manage co-parenting issues. You can email through our family wizard, keep a calendar/schedule for the whole family and scan receipts to have a record of expenses for the children.

The high conflict family will still have high conflict through Our Family Wizard. It will cost you $99 per year or $179 for a 2 year plan. That cost is for each parent. While there are some things about Our Family Wizard that are helpful and handy, it still is another money sucking entity for the court. You can do all the same things through email or a shared yahoo/gmail calendar, etc. The reason the court will order you to use it is because court authorities can log in and review what is going on with your family. For example, if you want your parenting consultant to read some of the emails that your ex has sent to you, you can let them know that they should review the emails and they can log in, select your account and read through anything they’d like.

There are myths about how it works and I’d like to clear some of that up. I have known people who get very excited about the use of Our Family Wizard. They think that finally, someone is going to see how nasty my ex is and do something about it.  If that is what you believe, the first thing you need to know is that these people see nasty. They see nasty family battles a lot. It is nothing new to them. Second, if your ex is nasty, what is it that you expect the parenting consultant to do about that exactly? They really cannot do much.

There is a scare tactic to Our Family Wizard. The courts hope that since a court authority, including the judge, can look in and read your emails at anytime, you might decide to be civil and cooperative with your ex. Do judges look in and read your emails? I highly doubt it. They don’t want to see you in their court room, why would they take the time to go read nasty emails? Do parenting consultants read the emails? Again, that is highly unlikely. They simply don’t have time. The system is not designed for them to read every email on every case that they are involved with. Usually, if you want your parenting consultant to read the emails, you would either need to call and tell them to do so, or send them an email and tell them to do so.

Our Family Wizard can be used for people who are not involved in the family courts, but is mostly court ordered for high conflict cases. Is it a bad thing? That depends. It will take more of your money. If you are already spending a fortune for attorney’s and parenting consultants, this is just more money out of your kids’ pockets. Think of the things you could do for your child with that money. If it is a court order though, you have no choice. Well, you do, but if your ex will make a federal case out of it, you don’t want to risk contempt of court.

Does Our Family Wizard reduce conflict? Not so much. It may decrease some of the battles at first, but once you get used to it, you let your guard down. Communications get bad once again and now you have just moved the location of the battle, from yahoo (for example) to Our family Wizard. That is the only change, the location where the battle plays out.

Another problem with Our Family Wizard is that often, a parent will email the other parent, but will start writing to the parenting consultant and cc-ing the other parent. This is not the way it is supposed to go, but it often goes that way. The way disputes work in family court, one parent can make a request of the other, if the other parent says no, then you contact the parenting consultant. This doesn’t always happen with the crutch of Our Family Wizard. As mentioned previously, one parent will start emailing the parenting consultant at any sign of dispute. They will add your name to the email as if you are an after thought.

Our Family Wizard may work well for you and your family. It’s hard to say, but you should definitely check it out before you have to use it. There are some other programs around so it doesn’t have to be Our Family Wizard, but you and your ex will have to agree to use a different company.

Since your emails on Our Family Wizard are not private, you will need to be careful what you write. Written words are missing body language, facial expressions and emotion so in the absence of that, words can be taken to mean things that you didn’t intend.

Also, regarding the calendar, I have known some couples who use the shared calendar and if anytime the other parent forgets to add an appointment or send an email through Our Family Wizard, the other parent goes berserk. These things happen. It is very unfortunate and not what it is intended for, but you need to be aware that it can be used as a weapon.

Again, this can be a useful tool, if you use it as it was made to be used. Keep track of the kids’ schedule and appointments, clear up miscommunications, etc., but it can and is used as another tool to use against an ex. If you have a high conflict person to co parent with, this will just end up like anything else, a battle field.