A new year has begun and with it comes new possibilities. Setting parenting goals is as important as establishing your own goals for personal achievements. While setting your individual goals may come easily to you, developing parenting goals requires interaction with another person to achieve an outcome. Success with that other-dependent goal setting can be elusive if there are old entrenched parenting patterns that need restructuring.
Here are two tools that might help break down and rebuild a better parenting relationship:
1. Private Mediation: When you return to court to address parenting issues, all California courts have a counseling service called Family Court Services (FCS) for you to attend. The service allows you to meet with a trained mediator at no cost in an effort to help parents reach agreements before going into court. These agreements can be turned into court orders by the judge. Family law rules require that you meet with a mediator before you go to hearing. If you’re not scheduled for court you and your ex can hire a private mediator to assist you in resolving parenting conflicts. There are numerous private mediators and counselors not associated with the court who provide this service. In some instances, money spent on private mediation can save significant sums by eliminating the need to return to court on a contested hearing. Private mediation is worth the investment if both parties are sincerely motivated to resolve their differences.
2. Parenting Software Programs: With the many technology enabled methods of communication (telephones, texting, email etc.), keeping track of conversations, appointments and important parenting information can be confusing and frustrating . If there are issues with the other parent being unreliable or untrustworthy, having a single point of parenting communication contact can help alleviate scheduling issues or alternatively, serve to keep a record as evidence if you return to court. The program is typically set up where FCS, the judge and attorneys involved in the case can tap into your information exchanges. This third party accessibility is useful for the court and others to see and identify specific parenting problems. Such programs serve as a single point of contact for sharing any non- emergency information concerning the children. For example, the program helps map out parenting time, doctors appointments, and other important extracurricular activities for the children. One online program commonly used is ourfamilywizard.com. Other parenting programs are also available online and you should investigate which one would be best for your needs.
Parenting is a lifetime relationship with your ex. Finding new effective and successful ways of dealing with each other can only enrich the lives of both parents as well as those of the children. What a rewarding way to start a new year!