by Brette Sember
Everyone occasionally has conflicts with their ex over visitation and parenting time. After all, if you agreed about everything, you would still be married. While most divorced parents experience problems with the other parent from time to time, many parents don't know how to handle these problems.
Some parents are quick to call their attorney or rush back to court for the smallest problems. Others try to solve problems themselves in ways that are not appropriate -- by withholding visitation or child support. Still yet, there is another category of parents who sit back helplessly, seemingly unable to do anything about the problem they're confronting.
You need to learn to take a triage approach to parenting problems with your ex. There are many situations you can work out on your own, however, there are also many situations where you do need help from professionals. Learning what kind of intervention to use when can save everyone a lot of headaches and ultimately a lot of attorney's fees.
There are many problems you and your ex can work out on your own. This does not mean withholding visitation, not paying child support, or playing games with each other. It means having civilized, calm conversations with each other in which each of tries your best to come to a compromise. If you have trouble talking to each other, try using email.
Some parents find that if they schedule a conversation in a public place and treat it like a business meeting, they have much better luck working out a solution. The many situations you should try to resolve this way include:
Mediation is a step that many parents simply skip. If they can't work out something on their own, they throw up their hands and go rushing back into court. Mediation is an intermediate, less expensive step that can help you resolve a lot of problems in an inexpensive way.
A mediator works as a neutral third party and helps you and your ex look for solutions and compromises that may not have been obvious to you. A mediator can also help you communicate what is at the root of the problems you are having; often core problems are not dealt with and if this is the case, they continue to cause eruptions now and then.
Mediation is appropriate when you and your ex have seriously tried to talk things out on your own, but have not been able to find a solution. Mediation is appropriate for:
The minute you pick up the phone to call your attorney, you start the clock on attorney's fees, so it is best to avoid this when possible. However, there are some situations where you do need to get your attorney involved. Most attorneys will help you try to work out a solution first, before resorting to going to court. Often this means your attorney talking to your ex's attorney and trying to reach an agreement in that way. Calling your attorney is appropriate when: