Q: My ex is always changing the time or date we had originally agreed to in the divorce agreement with regard to the visitation of the children. How do I keep things consistent so I can make plans? – Pat, Mission Viejo
A: As important as it is to have consistency and structure with children’s lives, life is in a constant state of change. More important is the damage done to children when they hear or feel they are a burden to their parents when they hear them arguing over whose turn it is to have them. It is normal to feel vindictive or spiteful when one parent has plans to do something fun without the children and force the issues about time/date obligations, especially when you may be looking forward to a break from the kids. It is in the best interest of the children to be flexible, even if it feels one-sided. If you have specific plans, you may want to have a backup such as other family members or trusted friends. Have a backup plan if it was not your weekend and now find yourself parenting again. Ensure that children at any age are not able to hear the conversation with the other parent, never make your opinions or unhappiness with the parent who interrupted your plans known to the children.
Q: Is there such a thing as a “healthy divorce”? – Beth, Mission Viejo
A: The short answer is there is a “healthier” way to divorce that can minimize the emotional and financial upheaval that traditional court options offer. A growing option nationwide consists of non-court, non-adversarial and a private process called Collaborative Divorce. Even if the divorcing couple cannot be in the same room together without an argument, this plan is very effective in reducing the cost of divorce by an average of 50-60%, cut the time involved by half and minimize the stress of the entire family. The collaborative team includes two attorneys, two divorce “coaches” and a financial consultant to represent the parties’ individual needs, rights and requests. If children are involved, a child specialist is included.