What If We Need Outside Help?
Even though it’s usually best for a child’s parents to be the decision makers, when it comes to developing a parenting plan, this isn’t always possible (or wise). Does this mean you’re a failure? No! These can be very emotional issues. Sometimes it makes very good sense to get the help of a counselor, mediator, lawyer, or other expert to understand the issues or to figure out how to resolve a difficult situation. Does involving an expert mean you can’t be in the driver’s seat? No! Sometimes people think that if they hire a lawyer, counselor, mediator, or other expert, they then have to follow whatever suggestions are made. This isn’t true.
Though it makes sense to consider what an expert says or recommends, you and the other parent can still make the final decisions. Ultimately, only a judge can override your decisions—judges can actually order conditions that parents decide against in their parenting agreements (for example, mandating therapy). Judges, however, seldom want to take a parent’s decision-making authority away—as long as the decisions make sense. In this way, the court can be looked on as a last resort to get something decided when the parents can’t agree.
Negotiating parenting agreements can be complicated. You will find links to resources and professionals who can help here.