People who find their way to this page usually find themselves in one of two situations:
Some are proactive and seek Coparenting Consultation services because they anticipate a marital separation. They are looking for assistance in navigating these waters in the least damaging way for their children and, ultimately, for themselves. The children in these families are extremely lucky, as their parents will come to Coparenting Consultation with me and very possibly will be steered in the direction of not only this effort, but of choosing a Collaborative Divorce process as a kindness to their family.
More commonly, folk contact me for Coparenting Consultation services after a litigated divorce process has happened, an Order for “Custody and Visitation” has been hammered out in a courtroom, and parents and children have been struggling for some time with the challenges of putting that plan into action. Parents struggle with unresolved emotional frustration with their coparent. Parents – and their children – struggle with the vaguely stated terms of the Order, then negotiating changes in plans, holidays, and other “rules of engagement” while emotionally frustrated with each other. Their children struggle with their new “two-home” living status, their divided loyalties, and their fear – often for the safety of the parent they consider most “vulnerable” – as well as for their own ability to continue to be protected by their parents. This latter point is particularly poignant, as it reflects the impact of their parents’ ongoing battles on their children’s security of care. These are the children I often see for individual child therapy, and they present confused, battle-scared, and angry/anxious/depressed.
Certainly, the first situation is most desirable: You perceive this need early in your decision to separate, and you seek services. You have guidance in the Coparenting Consultation process to develop the common narrative you will use to help your children understand what is happening in their family and how the two of you as parents intend to keep them safe and loved. You have guidance in transitioning from the emotional ties of a marital relationship toward the goal of a more “business-like” relationship that will work for you both as you coparent your children. You take charge of creating the specifics of a Parenting Plan that will work for the small details – one that creates room to change over time with the developmental needs of all family members, including yourselves. You take control of the process, even if you chose a more traditional Court process, thus taking control, also, of the outcome!
If your family has not been lucky enough to anticipate and seek consultation early in the separation process, I consider that a fault of our struggles to get out the word about Coparenting Consultation, as well as the television and tabloid models of how to get a (Courtroom drama) divorce done! But, you are HERE NOW, and have an opportunity, with your coparent, to PAUSE: to evaluate the challenges and renegotiate your coparenting relationship toward one that works better and reduces stress for all. (Warning: This renegotiation may require some dipping back in to unresolved hurts – to be heard, so that you can move on!). The process also allows you to take a read on the stress points for the children and what supports they need. Finally, you have an opportunity to revise and add in to make a “Custody Order” into a Parenting Plan that works better for your family!
Finally, there is an intervention protocol for parents and children who struggle to recover their relationship after a difficult divorce process, or whose relationship was problematic from the start. Reunification therapy provides a protected space for parents and children to explore their potential for repair and recovery of relationship. There is opportunity to learn communication skills, especially for expressing one’s feelings and validating the experience of the other, and for practice of new ways of being together. This work still requires coparenting consultation, as the “favored” or aligned parent plays an incredibly important role in encouraging both the “rejected” estranged parent and the reluctant child into relationship recovery.
In the United States, divorce is an increasingly common phenomenon. (At present, about 40% of first marriages and 50% of marriages overall are ending in divorce.). When the “rug” is pulled out from under you, you of course experience the shock of it as a tragedy that predicts a dark future for all. However, with support and tools to take control of the process, your family might move through it as one moves through any developmental life-shifting process – knowing the predictable stress-points, and learning and using new tools for movement through, and recovery. I wish that for you and would be honored to provide assistance here.