Divorce Literacy Podcast

Co-Parenting Solutions and Parallel Parenting with Jordana Wolfson

May 25, 2023 Divorce Lending Association
Divorce Literacy Podcast
Co-Parenting Solutions and Parallel Parenting with Jordana Wolfson
Show Notes Transcript

Co-Parenting Solutions and Parallel Parenting for making decisions regarding children in divorce. Co-Parenting goes beyone minor children and blends into how you involve or not involve adult children as well.

Interview with Jordana Wolfson, Licensed Master's Social Worker and Carri Goldring, CDLP.

Jordana Wolfson, owner of Co-Parenting Solutions, LLC, is a Licensed Master’s Social Worker, a Certified Divorce Mediator, and a Collaborative Divorce Coach. She also holds a Specialist Degree in Education Leadership and Administration, and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. Jordana founded Co-Parenting Solutions, LLC in 2017 to fulfill a personal mission to help children live to their potential and fully enjoy their childhood, even if their parents are no longer together. A significant focal point for her is to de-escalate conflict between parents. In addition to her experience in Clinical Social Work, she served as an early childhood director, K-4 principal, and K-12 Head of School in local private Jewish Day Schools for over 15 years. Her primary work at Co-Parenting Solutions, LLC includes Co-Parenting Counseling (voluntary or court-ordered), Mediation, developing or modifying Parenting Time Agreements, supporting families through court-ordered Parenting Time Coordination and coaching in Collaborative Divorces.  


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Carri Goldring, CDLP (00:00):

I'm Carrie Golding with the Divorce Lending Association and I'm a Certified Divorce Lending Professional or C D L P for sure. This is a part of our divorce literacy series and today I'm here with Jordanna Wilson and I'm gonna have Jordanna introduce herself and tell us a little bit about what you do.

Jordana Wolfson (00:20):

Okay, well thank you Carrie so much for having me. It's always an honor to be with you and I love that you have called this divorce literacy cuz I think that divorce can be very overwhelming. Yet the more that you know actual information, the easier it is to manage through it and not feel so overwhelmed or p powerless. So I am a therapist. I am a licensed master social worker and I have a business called Co-Parenting Solutions, L L C. All of the work I do is only in the space of divorce and separated families. My primary focus is on co-parenting counseling. So that's working with two parents who are either separated or divorced and working with them on finding effective ways to co-parent their children while the children are going back and forth between homes. And a lot of that work is on communication between each other.


 Respecting and honoring the other parent and valuing them and valuing their opinion, listening to each other, providing feedback in a positive and structured ways so as not to, you know, destroy the relationship between each other even if there's things that you might be unhappy about that the other parent is doing with the kid. And as I always remind my parents who are separated and divorced, that it is not just separated and divorced people who have the corner on the market on bad co-parenting <laugh>. So it's very challenging for anybody to co-parent whether I'm married or apart from each other because you're coming from two different life experiences and two different sets of goals and philosophies and values. And sometimes trying to meld those together is really hard, but it's even more challenging when it's somebody that maybe you don't trust or you feel hurt from.


 But I always try to get people to focus on collaborating, not necessarily trusting each other but at least being able to collaborate together. The second type of work I do is called parenting Time Coordination. Those are for families who really are not candidates for co-parenting counseling because maybe the hurt and anger is too far gone for them to have any success in trying to work together or communicate together. Maybe there's been a tremendous amount of litigation in the case that has really escalated beyond a place where they can come back together and collaborate. Maybe one of the parents has or both have a personality disorder, mental health issues that keep them from being able to co-parent with the other. So in those cases, even though I don't feel it's ideal I'd rather see people learn to communicate together and co-parent together.


In those cases, I look at it that at least if they do what's called parallel parenting, they have somebody in the middle, the parenting time coordinator, who can go be a go-between and help them to get decisions made in a timely manner for their children. So as a parenting time coordinator, I have a little bit more I would say empowerment through the process through a consent order that is assigned. Usually with the attorneys about areas that I can make recommendations and I usually just meet individually with the parties to get their input on various items that they want to have resolved. I try to mediate between them and when I can't mediate between them, then I make a recommendation and, and usually that resolves the issues in a more timely manner. So this way kids don't have to wait to, you know, maybe have medical work done, orthodonture work done, things like that that you know, when parents have joint legal custody and they can't agree on something, sometimes these decisions get delayed six months or a year and it's not fair to a kid.


It's really not. So but ultimately, you know, with the co-parenting counseling, that's my favorite because I, I would much rather get parents to a place that they're able to work together because I think that children are much more feeling secure and safe in a situation where their parents can communicate and collaborate and coordinate with each other. The third thing I do is mental health coaching for collaborative divorces. So a collaborative divorce is a divorce that includes a team of people working together, usually a lawyer on each side, a neutral financial person and either a neutral mental health coach or a two mental health coach model where there's a mental health coach for each party. So in Michigan it seems like most of the cases there's a neutral mental health coach. So I may be there to support them through the process to clue in the attorneys and the finance person on some sensitivities and things to be aware of.


I will go to the meetings with the parents and if there's, you know, something emotional and it's getting really heated, I might be able to offer some strategies to deescalate or you know, we'll go outside the meeting and I'll work with one or one of them and then maybe go to the other one to try to see if I can deescalate so we can get back to having some productivity in the meeting. And then if they have minor children, I often work with them a parenting agreement and ways that they can start off their co-parenting relationship in a positive way. But I've even found in what we call grade divorces where the families, you know, the parents might be a little older and their children are grown and flown, there's still a lot of issues related to the kids, which is really interesting. So I mean first of all, how do you not triangulate your children, your adult children in your divorce, right? How do you not use your adult children as a therapist because it's so not healthy for them. But sometimes also you have parents who are struggling with with children who are in their twenties and thirties with their own set of mental health issues or you know, economic troubles and the parents might have different ways that they think it should be dealt with and sometimes they still need to work together cuz you're not done being a parent just cuz your kids turn 18. I can say that for

Carri Goldring, CDLP (06:53):

Sure. That is so, so true. Oh my god I have so many questions based on what you said said

Jordana Wolfson (06:59):

<Laugh>. Yeah, I said a lot.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (07:01):

We might need to like schedule part two

Jordana Wolfson (07:04):

<Laugh>. Okay. I'm always happy to schedule part

Carri Goldring, CDLP (07:06):

Two. It's funny like from a layman's perspective when you say parenting time, okay so silly me I'm thinking I'm gonna pick up on Thursday and you're gonna drop off on Monday. It never even like dawned on me that it could be so-and-so needs braces and I don't wanna take them to the doctor you wanna take them to or I don't wanna pay for it or I can't even imagine with like the covid shot and all that stuff. Yeah that didn't even hit my brain. So

Jordana Wolfson (07:38):

Carrie that's so interesting you say because that's why I actually don't love the title of it. Like if I could change the name of it, it would be a parallel parenting coordinator because one of the things I actually can't do as a parenting time coordinator is change the percentage of parenting time that people have. That's a court issue. So I think, you know, because of the name I do think people get confused about it. Yeah, that's

Carri Goldring, CDLP (08:04):

Totally what

Jordana Wolfson (08:06):

But the reason it's NEMA I think also is because I'm dealing with things during parenting time and I am dealing with things like for example, if, if a parent misses parenting time let's say and you know, hey I'm going out of town for a trip and you know, for business and we had agreed that when I got out of town for business that I'd have makeup parenting time, I will help them re resolve issues related to that. You know, how when is the makeup time gonna take place and for how long and on what days or if there's confusion over something cuz there's often gray areas no matter how well you write a parenting agreement. And I write a lot of parenting agreements as part of divorces and no matter how tight you write it, there's always like some gray area like one year where Easter is on spring break and so I'm kind of like then can weigh in and say all right, let's clear up the gray area and this is what we're gonna do about it.


So, but you're right, it it should be something more like a parent, a parallel parenting coordinator cuz it includes so much more, it's extracurricular activities. What are we signing up for? Are we taking our kids to a therapist? Which therapist are we taking the kids to? You know, are we putting our child on medication for h adhd? Are we, you know, are we getting an evaluation for adhd? So it just thousand things and the Covid shot. Oh yeah, that's a big one. I don't actually make a recommendation though on Covid shots. I've put that over to the court.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (09:33):

I think that's probably smart. So yeah, so I mean even like let's say the kids are in hockey, who's taking them shopping to buy equipment, then who's paying for the equipment and

Jordana Wolfson (09:43):

How expensive is the equipment you're buying? Right? Are you buying the top of the line, the mill?

Carri Goldring, CDLP (09:48):

Oh, that's true too,

Jordana Wolfson (09:51):

Right? Everybody's agreed to expense. I, I have little tricks, you know, I say okay so everybody's not gonna agree so let's take three prices, the highest middle, the lowest, take the middle price, split that, and then if somebody wants to bump up to the to the fancier, they can pay the difference for that. So, you know, I just have to come up with all of these ideas. <Laugh>, I have my bag of tricks, it's somewhere there you go in the corner somewhere.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (10:20):

There you go. When you're ready to retire you're gonna need to publish your bag. Oh my goodness. Yeah. So I was thinking totally, totally off base. Yes. So when you say you write the parenting agreement, you're writing saying if you have the kid, you take 'em to the doctor. Like you're writing all those details down?

Jordana Wolfson (10:48):

Well yes. So I write a pretty comprehensive parenting time agreement when I have a family getting divorced or occasionally I've had families wanting to modify their parenting time agreement and they are in a space that they're able to work together with a third party and do that. They don't need to do it through the court. The, they might submit it to the court so that it's on file and enforceable, but they're actually able to work on it themselves. So when I write a parenting agreement, what I include in there is what is the regular parenting time schedule? Let's say it's 50 50. Are we doing week on, week off or you get every Monday, Tuesday you get every Wednesday, Thursday.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (11:26):

We have so many things right? Yes. And I,

Jordana Wolfson (11:29):

I actually have like a whole list of like different schedules you could use. But I tell people too, part of the benefit of working with somebody like me is I can be creative whatever works for your family because there are families where it's really complicated. You might have a nurse and a police officer and person works nights and person works 12 hour shifts or things like that in this way rather than somebody put sort of like a boiler plate schedule together and they gotta fit their life into that. I say let's create a parenting schedule that actually makes sense for your family and for your children and how far apart do they live, things like that. And then it includes a holiday and break schedule and it's very detailed in terms of what time we're gonna pick up on Easter, what time drop off or you know, you're getting July 4th what, what if July 4th falls on a Monday or Friday, do you get the whole weekend?


And so sometimes I'll go through with them all the different options and I'll say like, this is what families typically do. They might do it this way, that way or this way. But you can also figure out if you have something creative. And I have families where you know, they have a, a certain holiday that they celebrate that's very important to them. Like I had somebody once, it was very important to them the day before, I think it was a Saturday night or something maybe to the day before St. Patrick's Day. That was a very important event in their family. So we include that in the agreement and I've had a lot of families, different religions and cultures and we include all of those things. But yes then I do put a bunch of paragraphs about how are we gonna behave? We're not gonna disparage each other to the children, we're gonna work in cooperation with each other. I call these the co-parenting intentions and I

Carri Goldring, CDLP (13:12):

Think you need this for regular people that are like married like yes <laugh>. It's like the only benefit and it's too bad it happens at divorce but when you have like even the collaborative stuff and you have like someone say, okay, let's dissect your family emotionally, financially, legally and then put all the pieces in place. Like everybody needs that but no one does it. It's so

Jordana Wolfson (13:36):

True. It's so true. It is so true. So some people get it like they end up in marriage counseling and, and I would say a lot of times in marriage counseling, marriage counselors are working with the family on co-parenting cuz a lot of times the problem is how they work together with the children and do they undermine one another? Are they a united front? Are they not a united front? It makes a big difference. So it

Carri Goldring, CDLP (13:59):

Yeah oh my god it sounds, it's amazing. I went through it cuz it seemed so complicated <laugh>. I

Jordana Wolfson (14:05):

Know, I know, right? It's complicated. It is. So there's nothing easy about raising children and and what I really try to impress upon the families I work with is that you know, there's never gonna be a smooth road. There's never a smooth road with parenting. There's never a smooth road with co-parenting whether you're with that person romantically or not. And so it's okay that mistakes are made at times or somebody does something that they didn't, the other person doesn't like. It's about finding your way back to the big picture of do you value though that person's role in your child's life? And that's something that I feel very strongly about, which is why I call my business co-parenting solutions is I value both parents if they're both available, loving, involved, parents being involved in their children's lives and having a meaningful relationship and meaningful time with their children. And I, what I try to encourage parents is that you may not have liked your relationship with the other parent. You may not like a lot of things about them. You can go pick somebody new.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (15:21):

Right. But the kids can't children

Jordana Wolfson (15:23):

They don't have that option. And and even if they have that option, even if they're mad at their parent, they don't want anybody else. This is, this is who they want. So Right. So we've gotta find a way. So respecting and valuing the important role of the other parent in the child's life is, is half the job of co-parenting. If you can start from that place, everything else will fall into place. I really believe that

Carri Goldring, CDLP (15:52):

That ma that makes so much sense. God you have a, you have a tough job.

Jordana Wolfson (15:57):

It's challenging at moments. <Laugh>,

Carri Goldring, CDLP (16:00):

I think if I was you I would go home more mentally exhausted than I go home <laugh>.

Jordana Wolfson (16:07):

And you know, so it, it's interesting cuz for me, like a lot of people enjoy working at home. And for me when I did work at home for a couple months during the pandemic, it was hard cuz I, it was like I was bringing all this conflict into my home and that was hard. And also I needed time to decompress. I have a 10 minute drive home, but that 10 minute drive is just a decompress

Carri Goldring, CDLP (16:28):

All you need. Right.

Jordana Wolfson (16:29):

And I leave it at the office. So that's easy. For a while I used to watch episodes of lawn, like an episode of Law and Order when I got home from work and I couldn't figure out why and then I realized what it was. You sure

Carri Goldring, CDLP (16:40):

Escape <laugh>,

Jordana Wolfson (16:41):

I'll tell you it, it's my escape. But also the episode starts out, everything's in chaos. We don't know who, what happened, who the killer is, all that stuff. <Laugh> within an hour, everything dissolves and wrapped up in a neat little box. Whether we like the box or not or how it turned out, it's done, it's over. Right. So that doesn't really happen in my world. Not everything gets wrapped up into a neat little box and, and, and it's life and it just keeps going on and on. So, so that just gave me a little bit of like sense of calm for the day. <Laugh>,

Carri Goldring, CDLP (17:15):

I get that. I totally get that.

Jordana Wolfson (17:18):

Yeah. But I love what I do. I really love it because sometimes you're

Carri Goldring, CDLP (17:21):

So good at it.

Jordana Wolfson (17:23):

Oh well thank you. I, you know, I try but I'll tell you sometimes I, I I say this, it's not about me. I'm as good as the two people that I'm working with cuz if they wanna make the effort and they wanna make the change, they will do great if they don't want to, you can't force other people to change. You can try to hold them accountable. Sometimes there's some little successes, but overall I can't be effective unless I'm working with a family who really wants there to be something changed in their lives for their children. It makes a huge difference. But I love what I do, I really do. And there are times where it's extremely rewarding. Like when a family who never spoke to each other, the parents were mad at each other, the time kids were so upset and they finally coordinate on something and the kids are looking at them like, wow, look at you guys.


Like and the kids are proud of them or you know, maybe they were able to go out for, to coffee together with the kids and talk about what extracurriculars you wanna do. Like that is so exciting to me and, and I feel like I get so excited cuz it doesn't always happen. And, and I, I get very proud of these parents from being able to do it cuz it takes a lot for and I understand for them to rise above the frustrations that they feel and put it aside to do this. It's not an easy task at all.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (18:45):

So true. Well thank you so much for your time. We might, we might need to do a part two. I can

Jordana Wolfson (18:53):

Anytime, anytime you pick the subject, I'm always happy to talk. So time. Alright, thank

Carri Goldring, CDLP (19:00):

You. Someone wanted to get ahold of you. How did they reach you? What's

Jordana Wolfson (19:05):

Okay, gotcha. So I have a website. It's, it's probably the longest name ever, but it's www dot co-parenting solutions llc.com. So it's all one word. No

Carri Goldring, CDLP (19:20):

Dashes or anything.

Jordana Wolfson (19:21):

No dashes. And and my phone is (248) 330-5351 On my website there's a contact form. If you wanna fill out a contact form or my email address, my phone number's on there. If you want a 15 minute free consultation, there's a little calendar app on there that you can schedule 15 minutes with me. These days cuz I get really busy if people call me they hear it on my voicemail that I just say, if you're a new client, just text me over your full name and email address. And I send out like a really big email with all kinds of information with my forms that are online and easy to fill out and my calendar app to schedule an appointment. So try to make it as easy as possible for people.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (20:07):

Perfect, perfect. Well I always enjoy when you and I get to work together and I thank you so much for your time. Thank you.

Jordana Wolfson (20:15):

Thank you. Karen,

Carri Goldring, CDLP (20:16):

We still need to set up our coffee appointments, <laugh>. Yes,

Jordana Wolfson (20:19):

For sure. For sure. I always say, and Carrie has the magic wand when it comes to mortgages for people who are getting divorced. So I was just telling somebody about you today, <laugh>.

Carri Goldring, CDLP (20:29):

Oh, thank you. Yeah. I really, I appreciate your referrals. That's, that's

Jordana Wolfson (20:33):

For sure. My pleasure. My pleasure. All right, thanks Carrie, I appreciate, thank you.