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Case Study – Parenting Coordination

Case Study – Parenting Coordination  for a High Conflict Couple

For some separated couples the breakdown in communication is so bad that they find it impossible to discuss or resolve any issues surrounding their children. Unfortunately, in these cases where the parents are in a permanent state of high conflict, it is the children that suffer.

This case study illustrates these issues and shows how they were eventually resolved with parenting coordination.

Background to the Case

Freya and Mike from Devon had met and married very young, having 3 children in quick succession, their relationship had always been tempestuous. After 10 years of constant fighting and unhappy home life, they decided to split up, thinking that living apart from each other would be the end of the conflicts between them. Their children we aged, 9, 8 and 6 at this point and were already damaged by the feuds at home.

As Freya and Mike soon became aware, their separation only gave them new things to fight and disagree about; not much of the stress was alleviated. Making arrangements for children, who are still so young and dependant, can be complicated even if both parents are on reasonable terms. But for this couple it was proving impossible. To add to the conflict, Freya had started a new relationship and Mike was unable to speak civilly with either Freya or her new partner to make arrangements for the children. Freya’s resentment towards Mike had hit an all-time high and with a new partner by her side she was dealing with new issues at home with the kids.

During the initial separation Freya and Mike had mediation and had also attended court to settle some of the major decisions that had to be made. This was successful to a point, but the ongoing decisions and management of the children’s schedules where still causing constant conflict.

Parenting Coordination

For Freya and Mike, the Parenting Coordination was necessary for them to move forward as all communication had broken down. The children were really starting to suffer and were torn between their loyalty for each parent, the result showed differently in each of the children, with one becoming very angry and confrontational with his Mum and the youngest becoming very withdrawn and not wanting to see his Dad.

Despite their anger with one another they did both agree that they didn’t want the children to suffer any longer due to their discord which they both knew the kids had been subjected too over many years. They were also keen to avoid the stress and time taking going back to court for each contentious issue that arose.

Parenting Plan

The idea behind a parenting plan is to set out areas that both parents agree on about the children and how certain situations will be managed when they arise. If these are agreed in advance it can help avoid further trips to court to make decisions. In Freya and Mike’s case the parenting plan touched on many areas including:

  • School holiday arrangements for the children with a pattern of care.
  • When the children are sick, who will take time of work to care for them.
  • Flexibility around special occasions (Birthdays, Mother’s Day).
  • Finances for school trips and uniform.
  • Decisions around secondary school and their eldest having dyslexia.
  • The medical arrangements for the youngest who had ADHD.

We were able to help Mike and Freya to develop this plan with their children’s best interests at the forefront of all the decisions. Ultimately their parenting goals were the same but in the thick of high conflict separation and a history of finding it hard to communicate effectively they lost sight of these goals.

Holiday Abroad with Dad

Mike wanted to take the children abroad for a week for a half term that was only a couple of months away. The children all needed new passports which was the first issue that we were able to help with. We liaised with Freya for the information and photos that were needed for Mike as any communication about it resulted in conflict. Through these discussions they also finally agreed to pay half each for the cost of the new passports, which initially Freya was refusing to pay as it was his holiday.

The travel arrangements also needed coordination has the flights meant the children missing a day of school either side of the holiday, and a 4am pick up from Freya’s house. Through coordination, it was agreed that the children could stay with Mike the night before to save him making an extra hour-long trip to get the children before heading off to Exeter Airport. It was also agreed that the following half term Freya would have the children for the duration of the break.

Assisting with all these arrangements, highlighted the need for compromise and an empathy for each other’s points of view. The scenario of Freya taking the children on holiday with her new partner, was inevitable but with help it was going to be much easier to make these arrangements when the time came.

Can Parenting Coordination Help You?

Here at Progressive Mediation, we are fully qualified as parenting coordinators as well as being experienced in all aspects of family mediation. If you are in a high conflict separation process or would like to speak to us about your situation and find out more about our parenting coordination services, call us today on 0788 903 9393.

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