Parenting disputes are an all-too-frequent issue for newly divorced parents. When these disputes occur, there are options outside of the courtroom - such as the appointment of a Parenting Consultant - to help parents resolve these issues.
Parenting Consultants are trained to help divorced parents make child-focused decisions. As a Parenting Consultant, I also fill the role of a Neutral Child Specialist who is called on when these disputes occur between parents, to mediate the disputed issue and to provide insight into parenting decisions and their impact on children. I work to assist parents in coming to their own agreements. I help parents individually and together to resolve specific parenting issues, as well as communication styles and other struggles.
Common issues or needs brought to a Parenting Consultant
- Development of age and developmentally appropriate schedules for children
- Help in developing more effective communication with the other parent
- Resolution of child care and day care issues
- Setting limits and consequences with children
- Decisions regarding options for education (choice of school, tutoring, etc.)
- Decisions regarding extra-curricular activities
- Transitions of children between households
- Resolution of transportation conflicts
- Referrals for therapy for children
Most parties agree to employ a Parenting Consultant as part of their divorce decree, and appreciate the ability to turn to someone with decision-making power with a simple phone call. Along with keeping children out of court and conflict out of the home, Parenting Consultants may provide significant time and cost benefits to those who use them. Without a Parenting Consultant, simple day-to-day parenting decisions can require filing a court motion, potentially costing parents months of time and thousands of dollars before a decision is finally reached. I can help resolve those issues within a week or two, and the cost to the parents is just a few hours of my time.
Process of working together
I first meet with both parents to 1) gather background information, 2) review agreements and court orders, 3) establish an understanding of my role and function, and 4) set an agenda of items to be addressed. This initial meeting is followed by individual meetings with each party, once the Fee Agreement has been signed and I have received a copy of the Appointment Order.
I will also ask to meet with the child or children in the family. My role will be explained, as well as the fact that information will be shared with both of their parents to aid them in their planning and decisions. The child or children can ask for confidentiality to discuss issues that are not related to the parent plan or specific issue being consulted on. The age(s) and developmental needs of the child or children will always be at the forefront of any recommendations made in the process of working together.
If appropriate or necessary, a meeting with an individual parent, a teacher, therapist, etc. may also be arranged. This allows me to fully understand the family’s needs as we address plans for parenting.
For more detailed information on the process of Parenting Consulting, click here.
The authority of the Parenting Consultant
I will always give parents the opportunity to settle their disputes, as they are in the best position to make decisions about their children and should be assisted in doing so whenever possible. However, as a Parenting Consultant, it is my responsibility to make recommendations or decisions when parents are unable to agree. Most parents who utilize a Parenting Consultant agree that the decision of the consultant is binding, and may only be modified with an appeal to the court within 14 days from the decision.
Parenting Consulting is not confidential. As a Parenting Consultant, I am able to speak to attorneys or the court. This allows decisions and resolutions to be clear and open to both parties. My files may be subpoenaed, and I may be called to testify in legal proceedings.