Coming Soon!






As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy working on a couple of major projects.  I hope to bring help and guidance to parents who are stuck in coparenting hell and maybe bring some change to the way coparenting conflicts are handled in Minnesota.  I am ready to finally announce one of my projects is complete.  You will soon be able to purchase my first book, “The Parenting Consultant Nightmare”.

The book is in the editing stages right now, which is taking a little longer than I had hoped, but I do expect that it will be available for purchase within 2 weeks or so.  Stay tuned.

“The Parenting Consultant Nightmare” is a simple explanation of the parenting consultant process, the pitfalls, how to avoid it if you can, and if you can’t, offers some communication strategies and coping techniques.  I think maybe even a parenting consultant could gain some insight into why parents often react the way they do, but it may be too much to expect for any of them to read it.  Time will tell.

Anyway, it was hard for me not to announce it months ago, but I wanted to wait until the time was right and I think it is close enough to fruition that it is time to make the announcement!





If you would like to be notified once the Parenting Consultant Nightmare is available for purchase, contact me.  It will be available through my website, Amazon and some select retailers and will cost $19.95.




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 in Two Different School Districts?


In the past couple of weeks, I have been made aware of a new trend.  Divorced couples engaging in battle over which school district their child attends are now having their children go to school in two separate districts, AT THE SAME TIME!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

How can this be practical?  Since school started, I have been made aware of three children who are doing 2 days per week in one school district and three days per week in the school district where the other parent lives.  One poor twelve year old is doing one week in Mom’s district and the next in his Dad’s school district.  That is nuts and it has nothing whatsoever with the children’s needs.

Children have basic needs and those must be met before anyone should worry about the parents’ wishes.  To me, this is a form of child abuse and if one parent will not take action to correct the situation, the child should be removed from BOTH parties care.  I generally support parents because I know they do not have it easy.  Single parents, in particular, really do have their struggles and when they have a hostile ex who runs interference ALL THE TIME, their job is a thousand times harder.  Still, to not step up for your children is cruel and heartless.

I know how stress and financial issues can affect your life and make it appear as if you are not concerned about the children.  I know how the codependent coparent relationship overwhelms your family.  In this case, where children are not only being passed back and forth between the two parents, but now being torn between two school districts, I cannot stay silent. 

How can it work for the child?  How do they get graded if they are only turning in 50% of the school work at each school?  To me, this results in an F.  50% plus 50% does not equal 100% in this case because these schools are not connected.  Schools have different curriculums and school calendars.  This is setting your children up for failure and it is wrong.  If the other parent registered the kids for school first, you need to step back and realize that you should have been on the ball.  Whatever motivated the other parent, they beat you to the task.  Take responsibility for that and leave the child to attend school in the school district of the other parent.

School used to be a safe haven for children of divorce.  It often becomes ground zero.  Why judges proceed to allow this to happen is beyond me.  I have witnesses, first hand, the judges and how lazy they can be, and now, I get to see that laziness thought others.  You do not have too many decent judges to turn to.  The family court system has become a place where the rich get served, but not the poor.  It has also become a place where judges make their own laws and rules.  They will not help you and they will never help your child.  It is up to you to save your child!

If you are in a crazy situation like having the children in different school districts, consider giving me a call to see how we can correct the situation.  This is not the education you should give your children.  You can do better.  Let’s talk about it.




You Don’t Need Permission






You don’t need permission.  Stop
asking for it. You don’t have to ask the courts or you ex for permission to
parent your child. Every Dissolution with Children in MN comes with Appendix A. Read it. Know it. No one can take away your
parental rights more than you can when you feel defeated. Appendix A gives you all
the rights you need. Whether you have custody or not! This is an excerpt from
Section VI. of Appendix A:


VI. PARENTAL RIGHTS FROM MINNESOTA
STATUTES, SECTION 518.17, SUBDIVISION 3.UNLESS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY THE COURT:


A. Each party has the right of access
to, and to receive copies of, school, medical, dental, religious training, and
other important records and information about the minor children. Each party
has the right of access to information regarding health or dental insurance
available to the minor children. Presentation of a copy of this order to the
custodian of a record or other information about the minor children constitutes
sufficient authorization for the release of the record or information to the
requesting party.


B. Each party shall keep the other
informed as to the name and address of the school of attendance of the minor children.
Each party has the right to be informed by school officials about the
children’s welfare, educational progress and status, and to attend school and
parent teacher conferences. The school is not required to hold a separate
conference for each party.


C. In case of an accident or serious
illness of a minor child, each party shall notify the other party of the
accident or illness, and the name of the health care provider and the place of
treatment.


D. Each party has the right of reasonable access and telephone
contact with the minor children.


So many people I know fight to get
some of the above info out of the other parent. Why do that? If you want
information about your children, go to the source. If all you get is a fight
out of the other parent, don’t spend your energy there. That is game playing.
Make several copies of your court orders that involve your children and your parenting time.
Keep copies in your car and at work. Have them available for anytime you need
to present them to school or medical authorities. If the other parent has been
meddling and has told these people that they cannot give you any information,
make sure to politely inform them that they can look this up under the law.
Give them a day or two to check with their legal people and then check back to repeat your request for the information that you want. If this makes the other parent
mad, so be it! They cannot stop you from accessing information.


Maybe the other
parent needs some time away from you. This is why you should not contact the
other parent for info. You don’t have to have anything to do with the other
parent even when the authorities deny your request. You should not threaten
your ex with taking them to court. You beef here is really with the authorities
who are denying your rights, not your ex. Don’t threaten the authorities
either. Threatening anyone is much more harmful to you in the long run than it
helps in the short term. You can contact me to help as your Parent Advocate or your attorney can make a call or
send a letter on your behalf. That should take care of it.


When it comes to what you do with
your children during your parenting time, you don’t have to ask the other
parent permission to do anything, unless you plan to go out of state. If you
will take the children out of town, you are required to inform the other parent
where you will be and leave a phone number where you or the children can be
reached. Other than that, it is your parenting time to do what you want when
you want. The other parent doesn’t have to like it, but keep that in mind when
it is the other parent’s parenting time. It works both ways.


If you are hoping
to make plans that are outside of your scheduled parenting time, try to
negotiate the change to the schedule respectfully. Use a soft start up, for
example, “I’d like to work out a temporary change to our parenting time
schedule, is this a good time to talk about it?” If they say,
“No”, don’t get angry. Allow the other parent time to process the request.
Tell them to let you know when would be a good time. Don’t say any more. This
will hopefully ease any knee jerk reaction. Wait a couple of days and if they
don’t get back to you, nicely ask again. If your agreement states that you put
the request in writing, do so, and within any required time frame that is in the court order.
Remember, though, that you are asking for their parenting time. Many parents
are very protective of that for any number of reasons. You may have to be
disappointed. If you have a significant amount of time before the necessary
schedule change, you can invite the other parent to mediation.
If you have a parenting time expediter, bring
them in to help. Avoid a hard start up, for example, “I will be taking the
children early so that we can catch a flight for our vacation.” This sets
a hostile tone that will probably bring a very negative response. It shows
complete disrespect for the other parent’s time with the children and is
demand
ing rather than an attempt at negotiation. Stick with a soft start up
always.


It can be difficult if the other
parent is hostile and distrusting. They may get angry no matter what approach you use. If the other parent will not agree to a change, you’ll have
to decide if it is worth going to battle and bringing in a court authority, or
going to court. If there isn’t time for any of that, again, you’ll just have to
be disappointed. You did agree to the schedule and should stick to it whenever
possible. Hopefully one day the animosity will decrease and you and the other
parent will become more flexible. This increase in flexibility can also happen as your children get
older and have more say in what they want to do or what activities they are
involved in, so have a little faith and patience.


Don’t allow the other parent to
meddle in your parenting time. Be assertive. Parent the way that works in your
house and for your children, but don’t try to dictate to the other parent what
life at their house should be like. In most cases the situation improves within
a few years after divorce. In many high conflict divorces, the situation either
doesn’t improve or actually worsens. If that happens to you, keep clear cut
boundaries with the other parent and the schedule. Work on your happiness and
the happiness of your children. Happiness is a choice. Remember that. If you
need help, find a therapist or meet with me. I
have been where you are and I can help you find ways to cope and make your life
workable in spite of the conflict. The answers usually lie in you. Hold onto
your power and don’t ask for permission for the things that you already have
the right to do!


*Photo: Parenting Permit by Susan
Carpenter



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Get Back to School with a Parent Advocate


*the following is a re-post from 8/25/11

Summer has sadly come to a close. That must mean that the first day of school has arrived. Most parents look forward to the routine of school and either a break from caring for the kids all day in the summer, or being free of the worry of summer daycare. For some parents, this time becomes very stressful. They may have had a summer of enjoyment with their children with minimal criticisms from the other parent, but the school year just brings new ammunition and new players (teachers, etc.) for court actions.

If you are one of those with an increasing anxiety level about the new school year, I may be able to help you. I understand how the crazy accusations fly in that setting and how players like teachers, principals and school counselors unwittingly become an extension of your ex’s wrath. Your ex may have told them that you suffer from mental illness, when it’s not true. The school professionals may have seen you at a bad moment when you lashed out at your ex. Not knowing how justified you may have been, they now consider you a nut. There may be court orders that are worded in ways that make it seem like you are a bad parent. It may be wreaking havoc on your confidence. You may feel awkward when you go into the school. So what can you do?

On your own, you can work on your confidence and self-esteem. You can use some positive self talk to put in your mind that you are a good parent and will start the school year off with a fresh start to try and put everything in the past. This can work, sometimes. If it doesn’t, if the thought of walking into your child’s school frightens you, or causes a great deal of anxiety and you try to avoid certain school activities because you can’t face the school professionals, or running into your ex, I could be a Parent Advocate on for you.

As a Parent Advocate, my goal is to make life at your child’s school the safe haven that it used to be, pre-divorce. I will help you improve the communication with school professionals and your child’s other parent. If possible, I will facilitate a meeting between you and the necessary school officials. If you’d like me to manage the flow of communication, I will do that. If you’d just like me to attend any meeting involving school matters to be a supportive person in the room, I can do that. If you have any issues with asserting your parental rights, I can make a phone call or send a letter or email on your behalf. I am not as effective as you are when it comes to reviving a relationship with the people involved in your child’s school life, but I can sometimes open a door to a new way of interacting.

As your advocate, I bring credibility back to you if it has been destroyed by your ex or a meddling Parenting Consultant. When someone is willing to stand in your corner, it helps break down any walls that have been built between people. If you’ve been made to look unreasonable or crazy, having the support you will help your image. Sometimes in a divorce battle, the court authorities seem somewhat biased. If you feel like it is an unfair fight, like it’s always the Parenting Consultant and your ex against you, and you feel outnumbered, I can balance the playing field. I can meet with you and your ex, if they are willing, to see how we can get the needs of both parents met so that school can once again become a safe haven and a divorce free zone.

What have you got to lose? It’s a free phone or email consult. Contact me and let’s start the school year off right!





Losing Custody


I have talked to many people after they have lost custody of their children.  They take to the internet, searching for information, searching for hope, searching for answers, and they somehow find me.  As much as I wish people would find me before that point, I will take what I can get. People are not seeking help until their lives have been devastated and so I usually have to help them pick up the pieces, rather than work proactively to avoid the custody battle.

What I will tell you is that losing custody does not mean losing your children.  It seems that way to many parents, but the truth is, Custody and parenting time are two different things.  If you still have parenting time, you still have your children.  It may not be as much time as you want, but the door to more has not been closed to you.  With education and direction to get out of this awful system, you can sometimes turn things around.  If you can’t turn things around with the judge, the place to work on is with your kids.  When all is said and done, your kids are the ultimate judge anyway!

Custody can mean two different things; Physical custody, which is the address listing for the children, and legal custody, which is about the decision making ability for matters related to the children.  When it comes to custody, my thought has always been that the legal custody is the most important issue.  Joint legal is by statute, the rebuttable presumption in Minnesota.  Like it or not it is.  What that means is, the court starts with joint legal and one would have to have a very good argument against it in court to overcome that starting point between the parents.  In other words, all things being equal for parents, before either of you has presented any pleadings, if a judge has to decide custody, they would automatically go with joint legal.  Most lawyers are going to tell you that  you will NEVER be awarded sole legal and they will not even want to consider trying it in your case.  It is a major uphill battle, and in what is usually a “he said, she said” argument, very difficult to prove that it is the best way to go in your case.  The odds of winning are not in your favor.  For this reason, when I first meet with people who have “lost” custody, I ask to review their court order and in most cases, they only “lost” physical custody and the ability to use their address as the children’s home base for school or the doctor and things of that nature.

I put “lost” in quotes because I want you to understand that while it seems like you “lost” everything, you haven’t.  If you still get to spend time with your children, you will be the ultimate winner when the children are grown and the court experience is a distant, but painful, memory.  You may have lost the battle, but you have not lost the war.  Believe me when I tell you, as someone who fought and won sole physical and legal custody, back in 2007,  who then “lost” custody of my youngest child in 2012, I now have won the ultimate win.  My kids know that I am the parent they can count on to be there for them and to support them and help them navigate life, and they see the other parent for whom they have always been.  As a matter of fact, they see both of us for who we are and not what the family court tried to portray us to be.  So let me just emphasize again who it is you should focus on when it comes to trying to prove yourself.  Focus on your children.

I do understand that you now have to battle misconceptions from authorities in your children’s lives.  School administration, healthcare professionals and even court authorities judge you on the fact that you “lost” custody.  They easily buy the lies that have been spoon fed to them by a dishonest and vindictive parent, who by the way, will twist things to make it look like you are dishonest and vindictive one.  You may not be able to overcome those perceptions, but I do help parents look at what options they have for doing so if they decide they want to put forth an effort there.  Just know that none of these people will matter when the deal is finally done.  Kids turn 18 and just that magically, those people are out of the game.  If the game continues after that, well, that is pretty much up to you.  See how you haven’t “lost”?

If you lost custody of your children, odds are that you did not lose the children because you are a bad parent.  While there are some cases where a parent has successfully proven why they should have sole custody, in many cases, the parent who wins is simply the better liar.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net