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The Search for a Good Parenting Consultant

High Conflict Central hears the most from parents when it comes to finding or working with a parenting consultant or parent coordinator. These people are so hard to understand, even lawyers and judges can have trouble with the role. We will admit that we struggled to understand their decisions and behaviors until our fearless leader, Susan Carpenter, made things more clear.

We have never met anyone who understands Parenting Consultants as much as Susan Carpenter does. Never. Of course many highly experienced PCs understand their role, but some of the newbies may not. Either way, they don’t share what is going on with you. Why? They figure your lawyer will. Unfortunately, on the flip side, lawyers think your PC will. Well, this leads to where nobody will. Lucky for you, we will. Susan will, too.

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to navigate something in complete darkness. Why do that when we can shed light on everything. Susan Carpenter also wrote a book for you. So you can know. Check that out, too. Susan is our leader for a reason.

High Conflict central’s mission is to help parents navigate through nasty divorces and escape family court as much as possible. We do this through:

Books like: The Parenting Coordinator and Consultant Survival Guide

Coaching

Online Classes , including a free e-course about parenting consultants in Minnesota.

And, highly qualified coaches and instructors like Susan Carpenter at the Journey Defined.

When searching for a parenting consultant, beware of those who are seeking company for their misery or put out scary information that is not true.

If you’d like some divorce help, especially to select or understand your parenting consultant in Minnesota, please connect with us at High Conflict Central. You can also check out our online courses.

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Minnesota Courts Publish a New Parenting Time Guide

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Minnesota passed small tweaks to the best interest factors back in 2015. Since that time, an ad hoc group met to write a new parenting time guide. The new guide replaces the 1999 guide which basically assumed that one parent would be the custodial parent and the other parent have visitation. Times have changed and now both parents are encouraged to be involved in the life of their child.

To read the new parenting time guidelines in Minnesota, visit this link on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.

Minnesota Child Focused Parenting Time Guide

Just so you know, our own lead coach, Susan Carpenter, was involved in the ad hoc group writing the guide. She was instrumental in getting parallel parenting time included as an option for high conflict parents!

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Who Do You Recommend for a Parenting Coordinator or Consultant?

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As someone who has been working for almost 20 years to help parents navigate the very choppy waters of family court, I get a fair amount of calls and emails from parents who feel overwhelmed with how off track their case has become.  High conflict cases snowball into unimagineable craziness and parents desperately want to find ways to make it stop.  Much of the craziness doesn’t really come from court.  It really comes from the behavior of one or both parents.  When you get sucked into the vortex of the land of upside down and backwards, AKA family court, there is little that the legal system can offer to fix it.  Everything depends on the level of the cooperation between parents and their willingness to accept the reality of the situation and follow the prescripts that court professionals have to offer.  Unfortunately, there is no magic fairy dust.  There are no gold plated court orders that will make someone “follow the rules” or court orders.  Parenting is not an exact science, whether a couple is happily married or whether they are angrily, hostiley, vindictively or hatefully divorced.  The problem for divorced people is that you cannot put parenting on hold.  Married couples sometimes alternate parenting between each parent because they do not fear the other has plans to take the children away, but divorced parents battle over who gets to do what, often because fear or hurt feelings are driving the parenting.  Court orders cannot magically take fear or hurt feelings away.

In many cases, parents work through their fears and hurt feelings, and divorce drama can settle down to a level that will make the situation workable for children and parents, but in the case of high conflict, the battle continues to rage without end.  It is possible for the craziness to not only stay the same, but to increase.  It happens because one or both parents are very rigid and demanding and they are unable or unwilling to look at how they contribute to the conflict.  Until both parents can examine how they got to this point, there really is no way to move them forward.  So, even though the real burden is always on the parents, desperate parents beg the court for help.

Family court doesn’t have much to offer that will be of much help to you.  They operate with no-fault ideas for divorce.  You can blame all day long, but they don’t want to hear about it.  Court operates under “the best interests of the child” doctrine, which means that the court has been elevated to the keeper of your child’s best interests, regardless of what a parent might think their child’s best interests are, and the most they can offer you is usually some type of mental health services.  Even then, their options for mental health services in high conflict situations are a blend of law and psychology and sometimes, neither specialty does what it is supposed to do.  If those areas don’t work together, but are in conflict with each other they add more drama to the mix.  You end up being at the mercy of the biases and ideals that the professionals hold, often outside of court and outside of the application of law, but that is what they have to offer you if you cannot make it workable yourself.

About the only thing they can offer, once the Judgement and Decree has been signed, sealed and delivered, is  the services of a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Coordinator.  The term Parenting Consultant is exclusive to Minnesota.  The rest of the world calls them Parenting or Parent Coordinators.  What these professionals do is to act as a neutral party, who will case manage the parents’ communication and conflict, try to help the parents cooperate and make agreements about the children, but they will also make a decision when the parents are unable to agree.  It can be helpful, but it can also be a prison sentence.

Because of my personal and professional background in family court, parents seek out my wisdom on who they should choose as their parenting consultant.  Since I am in Minnesota, I know specifics about some of the PCs here.  Because I work one on one with parents as a divorce and conflict coach or parent educator, I have seen samplings from many of our local PCs and I know how they think or react.  That can be helpful when someone asks me who they should choose as a PC, but truthfully, you just cannot know how a PC will act in your case.

Over the years, I have had favorite PCs.  There have also been some PCs that I tell people to steer clear of.  Still, it is a hard call.  PCs can burn out.  PCs can come up with ideas that they think are really good and then see that they go bad.  PCs charge you a lot of money for their services and so if that is their sole motivation, they may enjoy seeing the conflict increase.  Every so often I see a PC do a phenomenal job and I recommend that individual very highly, but then something happens and they do a terrible job on the next case.  Did they suffer from burn out?  Are they too overloaded with cases?  Word gets around if they seem to know what they are doing.  Did they get ill?  Are they just tired of the pettiness?  What you may not understand is high conflict is not only stressful for you, but also stressful for the professionals.  I can speak to how difficult it is to witness some of the things parents will do to their child on a daily basis and be unable to do enough to put a stop to it or make the parent see their role in the conflict.  Performing the role of PC is not easy.  Being a prisoner (parent) of the role is frustrating, to say the least.

What you must remember is this.  The individuals who fill the role are human, just like you.  They make mistakes.  They get stressed.  They have no magic formula to make people cooperate, treat each other decently, put their children first, or “follow the rules”.  Your conflict may be different from the conflict they’ve managed in other families.  While conflict is very similarly rooted, the underlying issues or triggers may be different.  The interaction between parents may be very different.  The histories between parents may be very different.  The children’s personalities may be very different.  Parent’s personalities may clash with the personality of the Parenting Coordinator/Consultant.  A PC may be too passive to make a difference for you or they may be too aggressive to change an aggressive parent.  You can never really know how things will go in your particular case.

If you are planning to appoint a Parenting Coordinator/Consultant to your case or are struggling with one that you currently have, I strongly recommend coaching services.  Your approach to the process and with the professional will determine how well it can work.  Coaching can help you understand what is happening, especially when it makes no sense to you.  For more information on why your family cannot move forward, contact us.  We are always happy to see if we can make a difference for you and your child.

Also, regardless of where you live, if you have any recommendations for a Parenting Consultant or Parenting Coordinator, leave a comment.  Parents want to know about different professionals so that they don’t choose the wrong one.  Your feedback may spare another parent from a lot of grief.  Always keep in mind though, if a parent has approached the situation with ill intent, they probably will have a hard time with the PC on their case.  Everything is about perception.

Follow High Conflict Central.  Our goal is to help parents make a better life for themselves and their children.  You can read more about that here and here.  We are assembling a team of divorce mentors around the country.  If this is something you are interested in, either finding a mentor or training to become a mentor, contact us today.

PC services are part of what is offered by Life’s Doors Mediation, a sponsor of High Conflict Central.  Reach out to them if you are looking for PC services.  To learn about the difference between a PC and a PTE, sign up for our free e-course on the topic.

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What’s the Difference Between a Parenting Time Expediter and a Parenting Consultant AKA Parent Coordinator?

 

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Let’s face it.  The world of Family Court today is nothing but crazy!  If you get divorced and you have children, prepare yourself for upside down and backwards land.  NOTHING is as it seems.  The power is extreme.  The players are extreme and there doesn’t seem to be much room for such things as liberty, the freedom to choose your own relationships and there really isn’t a whole lot of law going on in Family Court anymore, at least not post decree.

There has been a push to keep families out of court to try and make sure they don’t make anyone feel bad by having accountability.  Unfortunately, rather than NOT make parents feel bad by being held accountable for their actions, they instead make everyone feel bad, including the children.  Then, once everyone is feeling bad enough where they’ll do anything to make it stop, families are offered special help in the form of third party decision makers who can make decisions without you ever having to go to court.  Sounds great doesn’t it?  Well, it can be a nightmare.

Your family may very well need the help of a parenting consultant or parent coordinator, but they can be a very complex role that parents just do not understand.  We know that families do better when they are prepared.

Because parents are not always fully informed about the different roles of independent contractors who work with high conflict families,  High Conflict Central has created a free e-course to explain the difference between two of these court authorities that you might end up with.  Whether you are in Minnesota or not, there are things that you can learn in this free e-course about PCs, which are known as Parenting Consultants in Minnesota and Parent Coordinators in other states.  These are important roles to know about in a high conflict case.  Check it out:

Parenting Time Expediter vs  Parenting Consultant-What is the Difference?