Q. I found Ellen Kellner's book "The Pro Child Way, Parenting With An Ex" on your
website some weeks ago, and ordered it from Amazon.com. I have been eagerly reading it, especially because of the up-coming holidays. I am wondering if you can tell me, is there any way in California to force my ex-husband to do some child-centered counseling with me? I think we could start talking better if we were in a safe environment.
Rebecca in San Dimas
A. Rebecca, I am so pleased that you are taking the time to read Ellen's book! She is a dear friend of mind, and a tireless proponent of co-parenting techniques for the sake of children. I have copies of her book which I give away to my clients, since finding resources for dealing with divorce and parenting issues is crucial to moving on. (I recently had a concerned grandmother waiting for me to finish my work with her son, and I noticed the book seemed stuck to her hand!)
California Family Code section 3190 authorizes Family Courts to require parents (or any other party) who are involved in a custody or visitation dispute to participant in outpatient counseling for up to a year.
Unfortunately, the court needs to first make findings that the dispute "poses a substantial danger to the best interests of the child" and that counseling is in the best interests of the child. It is quite ironic that in order to get counseling the dispute must reach such a magnitude of dysfunction. Custody proceedings must be pending, but even if they aren't it should be sufficient to just file a motion or OSC, allege facts that meet section 3190's requirements, and request the orders. In cases involving a history of domestic violence or abuse, this counseling can be ordered separately per FC section 3192.
I am so pleased for you and your children that you are motivated enough to investigate these options. They are well-served.
BTW, Ellen is available for phone and possibly Skype based consults if you think it might be helpful to meet with her for further ideas and direction.
Happy holidays to you and your family!
~ T.W. Arnold, CFLS ~