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The Ins and Outs of Co-Parenting Counseling

The law governing custody gives the court the authority to direct parties engaged in custody litigation to partake in co-parenting counseling. Co-parenting counseling is designed for parents who need assistance in successfully co-parenting their children due to lingering or ongoing hostility or distrust. The goal of co-parenting counseling is to improve parenting relationships by reducing conflict and improving communication, ultimately protecting and improving the overall well-being of the children involved. While many parties are required by a court order to attend such counseling, many parents undertake co-parenting counseling on their own, as they see it an effective way to improve their relationship for the sake of their children.

Co-parenting counseling is designed to help parents move away from adversarial roles as former partners toward cooperative and complementary roles as co-parents, thus encouraging the active participation of both parents in the child's life. When done successfully, co-parenting counseling can improve the child's confidence and self-esteem by assuring him or her of the security of both parents' love and involvement, and can diminish the child's risk of future relationship and personal problems on account of the parent's separation.

Parents engaged in co-parenting counseling are taught to communicate more effectively regarding their children, and are provided assistance in addressing outstanding issues involving their children ranging from behavioral issues to scheduling problems. The counseling sessions are generally designed to help parents identify their child's needs and to discuss these needs constructively with each other rather than fighting over the issues. Parents are instructed as to the detrimental impact of their conflict on the child's emotional development. They learn techniques to manage their anger and improve their communication and conflict resolution skills.

Co-parenting counseling is most effective for co-parent who experience a mild to moderate level of conflict. It may also be beneficial for parents who are experiencing a high level of conflict over one particular issue but who have generally experienced an ability to work together and cooperate. Mild to moderate levels of hostility and co-parental "dysfunction" can often be successfully dealt with through co-parenting counseling. Most parents, even those who experience conflict, have the conscious desire to communicate and deal more effectively with their co-parent, to the benefit of their child. Co-parents who are experiencing conflict over specific issues may be helped in their decision-making skilling by having the co-parenting counselor use mediation-like techniques to resolve these specific issues. In this way, co-parenting counseling can take on a form of alternative dispute resolution.

Those parents whose conflict is intractable and persistent are not suitable candidates for co-parenting counseling. Co-parenting counseling may be also be inappropriate where the parties have been involved in domestic violence, particularly where a protection from abuse order is in effect. The law dealing with custody specifically prohibits the court from ordering the parties to attend joint counseling in situations involving abuse, although the court may order individual counseling for the abuser. Additionally, when a parent is unable or unwilling to participate in co-parenting counseling, individual counseling for that parent may be more appropriate.

If you are interested in finding out if you and your co-parent could benefit from co-parenting counseling, contact the experienced family law attorneys at McMorrow Law LLC at 724-940-0100 today.

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