When a romantic relationship ends, whether by divorce or otherwise, parents often find that their residual emotions spill over into their dealings with one another as they try to work together to parent their children. This can, obviously, pose difficulties in a shared child custody arrangement. We have previously discussed techniques which you can use to mitigate conflict when attempting to co-parent with someone who cannot, or will not, treat you politely and with respect. A review of those articles (Part 1 and Part 2 of this series) will give context to the information which we are discussing today.

One of the recommended techniques to resolve this conflict is putting in place (ahead of time) a method for resolving parenting disagreements outside of court. That way, disagreements can be resolved relatively quickly, easily, and inexpensively. To be successful, that method must consider, and be respectful of, each parent’s, thoughts, views, and wishes about the decision to be made. It can, then, be supported by the court, if challenged by a disgruntled parent who thinks that he or she should be able to unilaterally make decisions about the child or children.

Examples of decisions which parents might disagree about are educational decisions, such as whether to “hold a child back” in a particular grade for a school year; whether to enroll the child in Advanced classes; which electives a child will take; or, whether to have your child “skip” a grade. Other examples are medical decisions, such as whether to have a child start taking medication, say for ADHD or clinical depression; or to start counseling, or undergo surgery or other medical treatment.

One effective dispute resolution method involves writing into the court order a “tie-breaking” procedure, whereby the parents would present their disagreement to someone whom they have previously agreed is a logical person to weigh-in on the matter at hand. The parents might agree, for example, that if they cannot agree on one or more educational decisions for their child, they will allow the child’s school Principal to cast the tie-breaking vote on the decision, after conferring with the child’s teacher, counselor, nurse, or other personnel relevant to that decision.

Similarly, for medical decisions, the parents might agree in advance, or the judge may order, that the child’s Primary Care Physician will cast the tie-breaking vote regarding these decisions. The doctor would first consult with the child, each parent, and any other relevant healthcare professional (such as a medical specialist), prior to making the decision.

Those professional people casting the tie-breaking votes presumably have the child’s best interests at heart. And, they can look at these decisions through their professional education, training, and experiences, without having to wade through the emotional baggage between the parents. Ideally, this process results in a high likelihood that a reasonable decision will be made for your child.

We have been using these types of tie-breaking procedures for our clients since the 1990’s. Over those many years, we have found that these types of tools often keep high- conflict parents from getting “stuck” when trying to make those important decisions for their child which will, inevitably, arise from time-to-time; and, doing so, without our clients having to rehire us to go back to court over the decision.

When a disagreement on a parenting decision occurs, having a process in place which allows a dispassionate professional person to assist in the decision-making, allows stability for the child to occur.

 We appreciate your attention to this article,and would welcome any questions or comments about it which you may wish to send to us from this website. That is all for now. Plan for potential problems with co-parenting, so that you can keep doing what is the very best for your kids!

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