Tuesday, February 5, 2013
What do we do if we can't reach an agreement?
When divorcing parents plan to make joint decisions as part of their parenting plan, they often wonder: "What will we do if we can't reach an agreement?" It is a good question. In fact, all divorced parents can anticipate that there will be times that they won't see eye-to-eye on how to solve a problem. Parents still have options, however, even when it seems an agreement is out of reach. Listed below are steps that can be taken, listed from least to most intrusive, to break an impasse. Except in the cases of emergency or when the children's safety is at stake, it usually helps to start with the least intrusive option and work from there up the list until the problem is solved.
1. Walk away if the problem is not a high priority. Save the hard negotiating for the important issues.
2. Get third party advice. If the issue is about schooling, consult a teacher or educational professional. If it is about a medical or psychological concern, ask the pediatrian's advice. If it is about the parenting-time schedule, ask other divorced parents how they solved similar problems.
3. Use a parent facilitator or parent coordinator to meet with you and the other parent regularly to work out parenting issues.
4. Agree for a third party to make the decision for you. If you can't agree whether the childen need counseling, for example, you might agree to follow the pediatrician's recommendation.
5. Attend mediation.
6. Hire an arbitrator to listen to your perspectives and to make the decision for you.
7. File a motion with the court to modify your parenting plan.
Remember, starting with less intrusive options before resorting to more aggressive strategies, such as arbitration or filing a motion with the court, avoids escalating tensions. And don't be afraid to ask your ex which of these problem-solving strategies he or she thinks might work: "We're stuck, how about if we ask the pediatrician what she thinks?"