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Co-Parent counselling AFTER separation/divorce: worthy endeavour? or waste of money?

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  • Co-Parent counselling AFTER separation/divorce: worthy endeavour? or waste of money?

    I'm curious as to others take on whether co-parent counselling is worth it after divorce/separation? In particular where there is a history of conflict between the parents.

    Just over 1 year out from the finalization of our separation agreement- and most importantly, a parenting plan- my ex pretty much refuses to go back to our co-parent counsellor. And that has been perfectly fine as our Agreement is highly specific and doesn't leave much room for disagreement. Plus she did her job and got us to a parenting plan that seems to be working.

    My ex will spew stuff by email when he's discontent with something. He's pretty curt and does not make any effort at all to cordial. I would like it, for the sake of our daughter, if we could just be civil. But since we don't actually fight or disagree in front of her, it's something I accept. But I wonder if - with counselling- we could actually get to a 1/2 way decent co-parenting relationship.

    Technically our agreement says either one of us can force continuation with co-parent counselling, but I wonder about the utility of it? And during these times, do I really want to spend $$$ on something my ex doesn't want to participate in?

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    1) If the other side is uninterested, it is unlikely that services that promote cooperation (mediation, coparenting, therapy) will be of any value.

    2) If you only fight by email, I think that is fine

    3) If you have a solid agreement that does not give room for arguments, why do you care?

    Honestly, that is the situation I have with my ex. We despise each other, but our agreement is so comprehensive that we have almost never had an argument. (To give her some credit, she does follow the agreement, I know couples that regularly violate their agreements). We will never be coparents, but as far as the kids know we get along swimmingly.

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    • #3
      If you want to spend the money, why not just get Our Family Wizard and that will stop him from sending you garbage?

      Your ex will never agree with anything and will always express his displeasure at anything he can’t control. Some people will never get to the “civil” aspect of parenting and it is hopeless to try. I think you are awesome for trying but your ex is just not that person.

      Not the advice you were looking for but in my view based on your history and what you have said before, it won’t work and you should just ignore it.


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Janus View Post
        Honestly, that is the situation I have with my ex. We despise each other, but our agreement is so comprehensive that we have almost never had an argument. (To give her some credit, she does follow the agreement, I know couples that regularly violate their agreements). We will never be coparents, but as far as the kids know we get along swimmingly.
        That's very similar to my ex. He has been following the agreement - so credit where credit is due. And we both accommodate requests reasonably, but neither of us has to.

        However, I do wonder if it's really true that the kids don't really know that their parents don't like each other?

        The reason I ask this is because my best friend is going through her divorce- and she doesn't directly bad talk her ex to the kids- and they seemingly have a decent co-parenting relationship (meaning they're both fake-nice). BUT- the kids aren't doing so well. My friend thinks the kids are afraid to tell her stuff about going to their dad's, etc etc....and while I know she wouldn't actually badmouth their dad, her hate/anger is pretty palpable. I can't help but wonder if some co-parent therapy/counselling wouldn't help their situation.

        Also their separation agreement suuuuucks as to parenting. I told her to go get that shit sorted, but her pride won't let her say to him that he should have more time with them.
        Last edited by iona6656; 10-06-2020, 05:34 PM. Reason: privacy

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        • #5
          Originally posted by rockscan View Post
          If you want to spend the money, why not just get Our Family Wizard and that will stop him from sending you garbage?

          Your ex will never agree with anything and will always express his displeasure at anything he can�t control. Some people will never get to the �civil� aspect of parenting and it is hopeless to try. I think you are awesome for trying but your ex is just not that person.

          Not the advice you were looking for but in my view based on your history and what you have said before, it won�t work and you should just ignore it.


          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
          appreciate this advice...ha "want to spend money"....you mean throwing $$$ at my co-parenting problems won't solve them? bite your tongue.

          For me- I think it's a non-starter; you're right my ex could care less about being civil. But in general- isn't trying for a decent relationship the right thing for the kids? maybe time will help.

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          • #6
            I contemplated joint counseling after the completion of the court process as we are quite icy with one another when we need not be. I too thought the waters would calm after its all said and done, but actually any amicableness is now non-existent and actually bad behaviour from her side has gotten worse- as we are no longer in court.

            I share some of the same thoughts as Iona. The parents need not sit at opposite ends of the gym for a school play or opposite ends of the stands. But my ex is bitter about the outcome of court, and in all likelihood, would use the counseling sessions as a means to get a professional ally in her corner. I've been told to stear clear of such joint counseling as my ex would only use it for self-serving purposes, and not for the intended outcome of bettering ourselves as coparents.
            Last edited by LovingDad1234; 10-07-2020, 08:50 AM.

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            • #7
              Ya, no. If the less reasonable party suggested it, sure, but it would be you just spinning your wheel in joint counselling.

              I WOULD recommend that you go, alone, to a parenting counsellor so you can learn new coping strategies/vent to someone about his behaviour/develop compassion for someone who has to live with that shit in their head all the time.

              You can't change him, you can change yourself though.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by LovingDad1234 View Post
                my ex is bitter about the outcome of court, and in all likelihood... my ex would only use it for self-serving purposes, and not for the intended outcome of bettering ourselves as coparents.
                Further to this, I would hate for any suggestion on my part for joint counselling to be misconstrued and twisted by her. Despite the fact that judges are well-aware that former couples have some level of animosity, she would nonetheless try to use the suggestion as some sort of "admission" that we have difficulties getting along and suggest that therefore joint custody is not feasible. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.

                I've learned a long time ago that good intentions get you nowhere in Family Court.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by tilt View Post
                  Ya, no. If the less reasonable party suggested it, sure, but it would be you just spinning your wheel in joint counselling.

                  I WOULD recommend that you go, alone, to a parenting counsellor so you can learn new coping strategies/vent to someone about his behaviour/develop compassion for someone who has to live with that shit in their head all the time.

                  You can't change him, you can change yourself though.
                  I have continued with my own therapy since separation. It has and continues to provide me with some pretty good mechanisms to cope with my ex's behaviour when it comes to co-parenting. Interestingly enough though- according to my therapist, the real test is going to come when our daughter hits puberty / early teens. If/When she doesn't fall in line with what her dad deems to be acceptable feminine behaviour.

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                  • #10
                    Yep, and girls tend to hit the “teen” years around 11 now. They all know therapy speak and what healthy relationships are supposed to look like and they push back against controlling, authoritarian parents. Good luck! Keep raising her to be a strong, smart girl.

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                    • #11
                      Update- back we go

                      I thought I would update this thread- as I don't see a lot of discussion of the use of co-parent counsellors/parenting coordinator post-settlement.

                      In our final parenting agreement- we agreed that we would see our PC at least once a year and once again when D5 is 6 years old.

                      Ex has been super reluctant to go back- to the point where he outright refused. Then I pointed out a clause saying "if there are issue related to the well-being and health of the child- either party may request discussions through the PC, and the other party must comply".

                      The main issues that seemed to be escalating were:

                      D5 does not like spending the weekend with her dad. She tells me every time she comes back. I think it's just a transition period, I've read all the books about helping little kids transition. And it just isn't working.

                      "How do YOU know it isn't working?"....every Thursday (after she spends wednesday night) and now on Mondays (after her weekend with her dad) for the last two months I've been called to the school because D5 has some time of issue- her stomach hurts, or she has some reaction/skin issue. Something. She cries and tells the school she needs to see me. I strongly suspect this is a combination of her skin is not in the best shape by the end of the weekend at Dads AND she just wants to see me. The reactions were legit though- hives or some other form of minor skin irritation. D5 knows if she complains about her stomach hurting- the school will call me and I'll come. Because of her allergies- the school is understandably sensitive to this- and I don't blame them. But I've discussed it with the owner and she agreed to be less disruptive- that if it wasn't major- they would treat her skin issue if they could. Or sit with her- but I wouldn't immediately rush there.

                      Anyways- I digress. What can we do to ensure she's transitioning well?

                      Second- and more importantly- Dad refuses to follow her skin care routine. Wont' use the creams uses regularly for her skin (they are non-prescription- but recommended by her previous pediatric dermatologists). She needs a soak 2x a day- short bath or even just a shower with no soap. Applying cream or balm 2-3x a day to keep it moisturized. This is her routine, it was put in place when she was an infant- and amended with regular visits to her pediatric dermatologist as she go older. Her skin has done really well as she's gotten older, and that helps. But anyways- dad refuses to follow skincare.

                      I've asked. I've sent emails requesting he follow it. He says 'What I'm doing is working- I have this condition too- I've never been told to do XXXX" . It is a continual fight- and one that is affecting D5's skin.

                      Also- everything is an argument. Activity on his time? Nope. He offered instead to take her to the one activity she does during my parenting time.

                      Anyways- there is a lot of hostility and animosity from him. Constantly.

                      I said let's let the PC settle these disagreements. So we're back. She told us that we're not doing well- and are obviously combative. And even if D5 isn't directly witnessing this- she knows. So I asked that we continue to see her. And ex has reluctantly agreed. We both get covered under our insurance plans. We both have good jobs- and money to spend on a PC shouldn't be an issue. For the good of our kid.

                      We've had two more sessions- and both times the PC has sent me out of the room to speak with him separately.

                      Ex is a bully and jerk. But he's not ostensibly a bad dad, at this stage. I just want to figure out how we can have a level of civility and cooperation.

                      The good news: He's agreed to follow her skin care routine.

                      The bad: sometimes I feel like I'm pleading with him to just be civil and reasonable- and given our history of abuse I hate it. But I've heard time and time again- the kids that do poorly with divorce are the ones whose parents are constantly at each other's throat.

                      So this is an experiment to see whether a PC can help us get to a somewhat civil co-parenting relationship.

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                      • #12
                        Im wondering if there is a way to work with him where he feels hes in control. I know his behaviour is not right and that he is being a pain but since he is a control freak and probably feels he doesn’t have control over situations, perhaps there is a way to message the requests where he feels like its his decision?

                        (I don’t understand how any parent would want their child to suffer especially if they have the similar condition. You’re her fucking dad, take care of her skin. I mean, my dad took off, didnt care if we went hungry, was not at all concerned we might have to go into foster care but was actually really awesome about taking care of us when we had a health issue. Your ex is off the wall about this. )

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rockscan View Post
                          Im wondering if there is a way to work with him where he feels hes in control. I know his behaviour is not right and that he is being a pain but since he is a control freak and probably feels he doesn�t have control over situations, perhaps there is a way to message the requests where he feels like its his decision?
                          I think there has to be. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I have a lot of decision making authority over our daughter - and at the sessions he even tried to play stupid when our PC pointed out that her skincare is part of healthcare- and that our agreement says I have decision making power. She was gently telling him that is how the court operates- and he angrily replied that "No judge made that decision. We didn't go to court- so no judge decided that she has sole custody". Then the PC asked- did you agree to this settlement? And suggested he might want to speak to his lawyer about what it means. He's not stupid. He knows what it means.

                          Sometimes I do wonder how closely he read our agreement - which is based on my offer to settle.


                          (I don�t understand how any parent would want their child to suffer especially if they have the similar condition. You�re her fucking dad, take care of her skin. I mean, my dad took off, didnt care if we went hungry, was not at all concerned we might have to go into foster care but was actually really awesome about taking care of us when we had a health issue. Your ex is off the wall about this. )
                          I suspect it's less about not wanting to take care of her- and more about the fact that *I* said this is how her skin has to be cared for. He demanded a referral to a new dermatologist (her old one moved on from the practice). I asked her family doctor for referral to another dermatologist and he said "why? she doesn't have any current issues that need to be addressed"- and she doesn't. He fights me on everything.

                          Edited to add: In short- he will make decisions that are contrary to her well-being just to disagree with me. This is why I fought him for custody. I don't trust that he can make decisions in her best interest.
                          Last edited by iona6656; 05-10-2022, 03:08 PM.

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                          • #14
                            I have experience on this. A PC sounds like a great idea and in practice it works for some types of people. Your ex does not sound like one of those people.

                            Your ex very much sounds like they have a borderline personality disorder. This is their problem, not saying you don't have your issues (most people do).

                            Your ex has not progressed over many years so after a short time ask the Parenting Coordinator what their assessment is so far, what their qualifications and experience is with treating people with said disorder -you must have some idea what it is- if they have the credentials to treat someone with a disorder what the outlook is for the engagement.

                            Don't hold your breath on your ex improving through a Parenting Coordinator unless she manages to take control of him. It would be a lot like "the PC says to take care of her skin like this so that is what I am doing" - I understand that would be unethical.

                            You are right on the skin care being more about that you said how her skin should be treated someone else has to say it.

                            You need therapy for your daughter so she can learn how to deal with your ex. She will have to take care of her own skincare routine and stop relying on the parent. There will be more things. She needs to mature a little faster than her peers in this regard.

                            That is some amazing employment package. They have something for Parenting Coordinators or therapy?
                            Last edited by pinkHouses; 05-10-2022, 04:18 PM.

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