From the Coparenting Coach's Desk

PROTECTIVE FACTORS DURING FAMILY BREAKUP

Proactive coparenting consultation prior to or least early on during the breakup of the family can make a huge difference in the life of children. It would also create some peace for the parents much sooner than wading through the family court process with either no preparation or only preparation from a legal perspective.

Parents making the transition from living in 1 home together to living separately in 2 homes need to do everything possible to plan the process so that they minimize chaos and maximize continuity for the children.

If the parents can plan for and pay close attention to these two concerns, the larger changes in the family structure will be much easier for the children to navigate! The same is true for parents making the transition from single parenting to coparenting.

There is an excellent online resource for parents who are separating and who may never have thought very much about their coparenting relationship. UpToParents.org is a great introduction to coparenting children living in two homes. This is a FREE class and is excellent! Parents who the course can print the completion certificate and file that with the court or provide it to the other parent.

Attorneys are a necessary and important part of the process for many families but more parents should do some research first to determine what type and what amount of legal representation their particular child sharing and property division situation requires. Many parents would take that step if they just knew where to go.

Some attorneys offer consultation to educate parents about the process before reaching agreements about representation. Some attorneys provide limited scope representation on specific matters which can be a good way to preserve both emotional and financial resources for your family.

The Self-Help Centers located in the Family Courts in San Diego County are another excellent resource for parents seeking assistance and information about appropriate and necessary filings. You can find information at the court website.

Other free legal services can be found at the San Diego Law Library.

Transitions Family Program at Hannah's House offers FREE support groups for moms and dads dealing with the challenges of family restructuring.

Parents can all too easily find the public voices of anger and outrage protesting the unfairness of the Family Court system. It is true that no stranger is going to make a better decision for your child than you, the parents will.

So, it is important to acknowledge that the only reason that the Family Court system gets deeply involved in family decisions is because a parent invites them to do so.

Sometimes that is absolutely critical when a child is in danger from the other parent. Many times, the level of protection requested from the the court is not truly necessary to protect the child, but rather it is done to protect and soothe the insecurities of a parent.

Before you take action, get informed. Find and listen to a variety of voices on the matter. Try to be honest with yourself about your own emotions and work to separate those from the actual needs of your child.

Remember that the support groups at Transitions Family Program are FREE and you will be able to meet with Moms or Dads with experience in this process. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn directly for yourself what others have learned. If you want to minimize chaos for yourself and for your child, don't rush unless it is a matter of imminent danger. It rarely is! Your feelings may be overwhelming especially fear and anxiety, but don't rush to extreme measures out of fear. Face the fear, calm yourself, and get specific information to make an informed decision about just the next step in the process.