Parenting is, as stated earlier, both rewarding and extremely difficult at times. Parents often find themselves frustrated and resorting to raised voices, extreme forms of punishment, and other forms of anxious reactivity when they run out of ideas for managing their child’s behavior. Parent consultations can assist with behavioral management techniques and can help to put the joy back into parenting. This is often the fastest way to address behavioral problems and provide needed relief to the whole family, since the "problems" are never just one person (i.e., the teenaged child) and are a function of problems existing within the family. The majority of the sessions are with the parents while the child may be seen only once or twice as needed. School observations, if requested and approved by school administrators, may also be provided. Some parents may choose to have an in-home assessment of the management problem in their natural home environment. This provides live feedback and a treatment plan for parents to implement. Please speak with the Dr. Jonathan Eric Carroll, Clinical Director about this possibility.
Parents who continue to disagree over custody and parenting time may use a "Parenting Coordinator" to help them decide about parenting schedules and other parenting issues. Usually, parents use this process after a parenting plan has been set by the court, setting forth a time sharing arrangement and how decisions will be made. Once appointed, either parent may contact the coordinator if there is a disagreement about how the parenting plan is supposed to work. The coordinator works with both parents to get them to agree on a solution. If the parents can't agree, the coordinator may decide the issue. All decisions are reviewable by the judge assigned to the case.
A coordinator is appropriate when parents have difficulty communicating and agreeing on how to handle parenting time and other decisions about the child/ren. The coordinator's focus is on helping the parents communicate and settle into a relationship in which they can work out parenting time issues in a business-like way, without help from an outside party.
Parents who are interested in this process should discuss it with his or her attorney, the other parent, and the judge assigned to the case. When you are ready, contact The Clinic @ the Montgomery for help.
Occasionally, the Court will order that co-parents utilize a Parenting Coordinator as a Tie-Breaker, or perhaps in another circumstance, co-parents will self-elect together to utilize a PC for such. In this event, if the co-parents arrive at an impasse in an important decision that needs to be made on behalf of -- and in service to the best interests of -- a child, the PC will, after hearing from both co-parents, adjudicate, utilizing the facts available within and about the situation at hand, and will decide, thereby breaking the tie and freeing the co-parents to move forward in their loving care of their child and in the building of their relationship with him/her.
The costs associated with Tie-Breaking are: $500/scenario, plus $150/hour for any research, reporting, or filing that might accompany the process or the decision. These costs are almost always shared equally between the co-parents.
CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATION
If you and your ex-spouse or co-parent find that you cannot agree on a custody and visitation plan, even after mediation and other settlement efforts, you might be ordered to participate in a child custody evaluation. Briefly, a child custody evaluation is a process in which a mental health expert evaluates your family and makes a recommendation to the court for a custody / visitation or parenting plan that is in your child's best interests.
What is a Child Custody Evaluation?
Unlike mediation or other settlement techniques, in which you and your ex-spouse or co-parent are encouraged to reach your own agreement about custody and visitation and develop a parenting plan for your children, when you have a child custody evaluation, your evaluator will be recommending a particular plan to you and the court. It is not a settlement process like mediation. Rather, it is a process in which the evaluator gathers information about your family and makes a detailed and informed recommendation based on that information. In an ideal situation, you and your ex-spouse can use that recommendation to reach a settlement, but if not, the judge can use the evaluation, along with all other testimony, to make an order for your family.
Your child custody evaluation, if approached correctly, can be a process which results in an opportunity for you and your ex-spouse or co-parent to learn about how the two of you can work together on behalf of your children. Rather than a nerve-wracking activity in the win-lose approach to your divorce, a child custody evaluation should guide you toward a healthier resolution. This is the hope of the work we do at The Clinic @ The Montgomery.