Divorce is an ugly word, but it’s not always a bad thing. When two people cannot live together in a manner conducive to raising happy, healthy kids and being loving, civil partners, divorce is the better option.
You hear it all the time, “They’re staying together for the kids,” but at what cost? When you are with someone – married or unmarried – simply because of the kids you share, no one wins.
To put it simply, children are neither stupid nor blind. They see, hear, and understand far more than parents often given them credit for, and staying together for the kids is rarely a good option.
However, even going your separate ways might cause even more conflict, which is where you might hear the term parenting consultant.
What is a parenting consultant? We’ll get to that in a moment. If you are in a relationship in which staying together won’t work, it’s time to focus on the moving on. If you cannot get along, figure out what to do with your kids, and handle custody and other parenting-related issues accordingly, you might require a parenting consultant.
In addition to that, you might also consider an option called parallel parenting, which is a last ditch measure for families who simply cannot put aside their differences for their children.
What is A Parenting Consultant?
A Minnesota Court Rule (Rule 114.02(a)(10)) was devised to create the parenting consultant. Essentially, a parenting consultant is a person who works diligently and directly with both parties during the divorce process as a type of impartial mediator working only with issues pertaining to the children shared by the divorcing parties.
Furthermore, a parenting consultant might continue to do much of their work with the couple in question long after their divorce is finalized.
The parenting consultant is a trained individual who works hand-in-hand with parents to help them understand their rights, the legal terminology in their divorce, and much more.
Additionally, a parenting consultant is there to handle conflicts that arise between parents after the divorce is final. Signing on the dotted line and ending your marriage does not stop conflict from occurring.
In fact, many people find that they face more conflict while co-parenting because the situation is new to them and new problems arise that the court did not see coming. A parenting consultant is there to keep things civil, clean, and to keep as much stress off of you and your kids as possible.
What Do You Need a Parenting Consultant For?
Conflict, of course. This is not to say every divorcing couple needs a parenting consultant, but conflict is typically why couples end their marriage.
Perhaps the conflict is you simply do not want to be married, but you have no problem agreeing on your kids and putting their best interests first – you won’t need a parenting consultant if you have similar parenting methods and are a solid co-parenting team.
Many divorced couples get along well, and they are capable of managing their co-parenting and potential conflicts without a parenting consultant. Those couples need not bother.
However, there are also many couples who cannot get along when they’re married, while divorcing, and even after their divorce is finalized.
They cannot agree on things, they don’t understand how things work, and they might find that navigating these new waters is a bit more than they expected.
For example, did you know that many conflicts arise following the finalization of a divorce simply because one parent sees the court-ordered paperwork meaning one thing, and the other party sees it meaning something else?
When one party misunderstands or misinterprets the divorce decree and parenting rights, conflict might arise. A parenting consultant is there to help you deal with these issues to keep them from becoming a bigger problem.
When Do You Need a Parenting Consultant?
Anytime you deem on necessary. However, there are certain instances in which a parenting consultant is the fastest, most efficient, and most cost-effective choice.
For example, if one or both parents has an issue with the decisions the court made, they typically go to the courthouse, they file a motion, and then they wait on a hearing and a decision.
This can take time, money, and resources. A parenting consultant can work with both parents to reach a mutual decision, which also saves time and money.
What you should know about hiring a parenting consultant, however, is that you and the other parent get to decide the scope of the parenting consultant’s powers.
For example, your parenting consultant cannot make a decision about which school your child attends if you and your ex live in different school zones.
Your parenting consultant is there to handle issues only found in their contract. For example, you might decide that your parenting consultant is there to help you decide where the child spends holidays such as summer vacation, spring break, Christmas, and more, and that is the only power they have once the contract is signed.
Finally, both you and your ex must agree to use a parenting consultant. If you don’t agree and sign the contract, the parenting consultant cannot work with you.
You must both be present, willing, and able to listen to the rules set forth by the parenting consultant, or the contract is null and void. This is a decision you make together, so it’s not always the answer if one parent is unwilling to work with you.
Where Do You Find a Parenting Consultant?
You can find a parenting consultant anywhere, but your best bet is to speak to your attorney or the court for a recommendation. Word of mouth is always a good indicator of the reputation of a parenting consultant.
In fact, some are willing to work with you from far away, meeting via online calls such as Zoom. You cannot be ordered to use a parenting consultant by a court, but the court does have to sign off on the agreement you and your parenting consultant work out.
What Does a Parenting Consultant Cost?
Every consultant is different, and every case is different. However, it’s imperative to understand that the cost of a parenting consultant is often split between both parties. If your ex is unwilling to pay for a parenting consultant, you might be forced to pay the entire fee on your own or risk not being able to use a parenting consultant.
Why Do You Need a Parenting Consultant?
There is no right or wrong answer about why you need a parenting consultant. But the most important answer is that hiring a parenting consultant often reduces stress. Stress for you and for your kids. When you are stressed, your children pick up on that.
They know thing are different, changing, and difficult, and your added stress only worries them and causes them undue anxiety. When you hire a parenting consultant, you minimize your own stress, which is also noticeable to your kids. The most important thing is that your kids are happy, healthy, and not worried about their parents behavior and stress levels.
Is It Helpful to Use a Parenting Consultant?
Yes, it is often helpful to use a parenting consultant. At the end of the day, custody issues are difficult for children. Hearing their parenting fighting over them, their parents are unable to come to an agreement, and feeling as if they have to walk on eggshells is never a good thing for kids to witness or experience.
While most parents think they are doing the right thing by fighting, some are simply making things worse out of spite for their ex. There are instances, of course, when one parent knows the other parent is not capable of parenting alone or is abusive or dangerous, an addict, or something else, that forces one parent to fight for custody for the protection of their children.
Working with a parenting consultant is easier than fighting for custody without help, but it’s not always going to work. There are times when it’s helpful, but only if both parents are willing to compromise and allow someone to intervene. If you or your ex are only battling for power or control, a parenting consultant will not be able to help you through your issues.
Is There Anything Else We Can Do?
There are many things parents can do when they decide to divorce or end their relationship. However, you have to decide. Oftentimes, one parent is unwilling to compromise or bend, and the other one suffers as a result.
If your partner is unwilling to work with you, there is little you can do but go through the motions and try your best. However, if you and your ex can put aside your feelings for one another and focus on the children, everyone wins.
There is nothing worse than being raised by two people who hate one another (this does not apply to dangerous people…that type of hatred is a different story). But two people who simply want to ‘win’ the battle and be the ‘best’ one at the end of it are doing no one any favors.
Kids need parents who love them, support them, and want the best for them. Even if it means putting aside their own feelings and working with someone who hurt them. Your heartbreak and personal feelings about your ex have no place in your children’s lives.
This means speaking only kind words about your ex. It’s never making your children feel as if they cannot have fun with the other. And never making them feel as if they have to choose sides.
Your actions here, the way you handle one another, tells your children where they stand with you. Parents who cannot get along because of their own pettiness or personal feelings are sending messages to their kids. These messages state that their children’s happiness does not come before their own.
Get the Parenting Consultant
Divorce is not an easy thing to deal with. You both thought forever was with this other person. You made children. Both welcomed babies into the world who are part of both of you, and now you are no longer together. It’s heartbreaking, difficult, and it’s not easy to deal with things of this nature.
However, it’s also a situation in which you have the power to make things okay for the kids. If you cannot do it on your own with your ex, ask about a parenting consultant. Minimizing your own interaction with your ex might be exactly what you both need. This might help you move on and make good decisions.
Perhaps it’s just too soon for the two of you to spend any time making custody agreements. Being in the same room might still be difficult. Perhaps things like this will become easier over time, but the hurt is too fresh in the moment. A parenting consultant is a great place to start.
It allows you to make positive decisions for your kids without making poor choices with one another. Talk to your attorney about hiring a parenting consultant. Many attorney’s offices keep on one staff who might be able to help. Otherwise, they can find one for you and make sure you’re getting the help you need.
Do keep in mind that if your ex is a person who suffers from a substance abuse issue, a physical abuse issue, a sexual abuse issue, or another dangerous issue, you shouldn’t make any accommodations you are uncomfortable with or your kids are uncomfortable with. You know your ex.
You know whether he or she is safe and okay to be alone with the kids. If they are not, there is often little you can do but present evidence and fight. Even when it’s going to hurt the kids and cause more stress for everyone. You know what’s right, and you need to do that.
Additional Resources for Parents
- Neglectful Parenting
- Permissive Parenting
- Authoritarian vs. Authoritative Parenting
- How to Give Advice to a Friend With Family Problems