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Help to Get Out of Court or Stay Out of Court

February 28, 2015

Resolving disputes outside of court takes a mindset that suggests court is just out of the question. Once someone adopts that mindset, then attention can be focused on other more creative ways to facilitate settlement and a more productive co-parenting relationship.

Co-parent Coaching and Facilitation is one such creative way to help separated parents be better co-parents.

Co-Parent Coaching and Facilitation is an innovative non-binding, closed and educative approach to enable separated parents to manage the care of children between them. It is designed to help separated parents stay out of court or get out of court.

This is specifically provided for those parents who find themselves in ongoing conflict over the decisions or care affecting their children or where the parents are at risk of mounting escalating legal bills in the pursuit of sorting out their differences. Parents in these situations may be thought of as high conflict.

These parents likely have lawyers who are willing to go to court and where a court action may have already been started or is at risk of being started.

Either the parents by their wisdom or desperation, or the lawyers reasonably seeking to help their clients avoid mounting legal bills, may find this service of value. To some, this service may be considered a last ditch effort to resolve matters before or even during the expense of other conflict/blame based approaches such as court, arbitration and demanding legal letters.

To Collaboratively trained lawyers, this service may help their higher conflict clients remain within the Collaborative participation agreement.

The Co-parent-Coach-Facilitator (service provider) holds no power or authority to require parents to do anything. However, upon mutual consent, parents can agree to abide by suggestions on a friendly basis. If parents deem their issues to be irresolvable between themselves they are free to seek to other strategies.

Given the service is closed, the service provider cannot be called to testify; reports cannot be required; and notes cannot be requested. Although lawyers may refer, they will have no involvement in this service outside of referral and providing Independent Legal Advice as to the nature of the service agreement. There are no certificates of attendance.

Because of this process, parents are free to raise issues without the fear that the issues raised will be used against them. This can enable people to enter into this process less defensively so attention is concentrated on resolving issues of contention rather than documentation for legal purposes.

The objectives of this service include:

1. Reducing conflict;
2. Limiting legal bills;
3. Learning strategies for negotiating directly;
4. Helping parents make decisions affecting the children;
5. Helping parents determine the residential schedule.
6. Improving the children’s experience of the parental separation;

The tools of the service provider include:

1. Providing specific information about child development;
2. Providing specific information about those factors that lead to better outcomes for children of separated parents;
3. Education on strategies to facilitate co-parenting;
4. Coaching on how to negotiate;
5. Coaching on how to manage intense feelings;
6. Guidance with regard to issues raised;
7. Providing an environment for the parents to allow this to happen.

There is no guarantee that this service will meet the stated objectives. The outcomes depend more so on the willingness or ability of the parents to make use of the information, education, coaching and guidance provided them and the service provider has no control of this. Similarly though, while a court may impose a decision, there is no guarantee that a parent will follow an Order or that that parent won’t seek to undo the order down the road. However, decisions entered into voluntarily tend to be better followed than those decisions imposed.

This service is not for everyone and may not be appropriate where a parent has a criminal charge pending; is known to be dangerous; is known to have an active substance abuse issue of a Schedule 1 or 3 substance (Canada: Controlled Drugs and Substances Act); cannot attend sober.

Although this service is closed, meaning the service provider cannot be called to court, cannot be required to produce a report and cannot be asked for records, if a reportable child safety/protection issue is raised, that matter will be referred to child protective services. Harm or risk of harm to a child is reportable by law and is an obligation of the service provider.

For more information about the costs and stipulations for this service, please see:
Co-Parent Coaching and Facilitation

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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