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Expectations of Med/Arb or Parenting Coordination
parents come to mediation/arbitration or parenting coordination believing the
service provider will offer a quick fix to an impasse on any given issue. There
can be considerable pressure by one or both parents to simply settle their
differences by choosing between opposing views.
be clear, unless a remarkably serious issue, the service provider should not be
quick to judge or impose a resolution.
these roles, it behooves the service provider to try and help separated parents
settle their dispute between themselves first, even if they are not hopeful.
rationale for this is that those agreements entered into voluntarily and as
determined by the parents, tend to be better followed and last longer than those
outcomes imposed by a third party. Rushing to impose a decision undermines the
parents being able to unpack their dispute, review their priorities and obtain
support that very often leads to them determining their own solution.
add, the service provider early on knows precious little about the parents,
their children and their situation. As helpful as the service provider wants to
be, imposing a decision in the absence of learning about the parents, children
and situation, can lead to an outcome poorly suited to meet anyone’s needs.
Simply put, do not expect or seek the service provider to quickly solve your
problems on your behalf.
parents should expect is to receive information, education and support to learn
how to better settle disputes on a go-forward basis. They should also expect the
service provider to help them take turns talking, respectfully listen and
problem solve between themselves. In so doing, the service provider may have to
control the meeting to allow respectful and appropriate discourse. No one should
be allowed to ramble, simply register multiple examples of the others issues, or
make demands. The service provider does manage this process, at times to the
consternation of a parent whose greatest challenge may be to listen and
relinquish control in order to achieve that oft times elusive mutually
after the service provider has had an opportunity to get to know the parents
over some time and the parents have truly exhausted opportunity to resolve
matters between themselves should the service provider determine the outcome.
Only then should the service provider impose a decision as mandated in view of
impasse when other options are proven unfruitful. This is the preferred process
and not withstanding though, there may be occasion when the service provider is
required to make a quick decision, but this is typically avoided as much as
called upon to make a decision, contrary to the belief of many parents, the
service provider is not bound to chose between the parents’ competing views or
service provider should be taking the view respecting the best interests of the
child as determined by the service provider and not the parents. The view is not
just for what is best in the moment, but with a view to the long-term interests
of the child.
service provider in these situations will likely prioritize limiting the
child’s exposure to parental conflict as that alone is most determinative of
children’s well being given parental separation. As such, the service provider
may take a perspective different from either parent if required to make a
decision on the parents’ behalf. In so doing, neither parent may be satisfied,
although the child will likely be better served in the long term.
and Parenting Coordinators do want to be helpful.
times it takes the parents a while to catch on how these services are helpful
and learn to be patient when the process may be slower than expected. These
process still tend to be far superior than going to court. These services tend
to resolve issues sooner, at less cost and in a manner better suited to the
parents and children. Along the way, many parents learn how to better resolve
matters between themselves, rendering the actual service redundant.
expectations of the Med/Arb and Parenting Coordination can help parents make
good use of these services. The goal is happy, responsible, well adjusted
children. Just as most disputes do not occur overnight, better outcomes will
require patience and commitment on the part of the parents.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
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