Mediation re choice of secondary school

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Associate of Daniel

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Mediation re choice of secondary school
« on: July 09, 2018, 08:14:30 AM »
(Long, sorry!)

Help!

I need advice as to what to say/present at mediation in a few weeks.

Here's the background:

In 2013 U/npd exH and I enrolled ds in an independant school that covers prep to year 12.

We had a verbal/vaguely written agreement that we would each pay half of the fees and stationery costs.

In 2015 u/npd exH announced he was no longer happy with the school and stopped paying his half of the fees.

He wanted ds to attend another local state school.

We went to mediation and he agreed to keep ds at the independent school until grade 6 but still refused to contribute to any fees, stationery or uniform costs.  My thinking/understanding from mediation was that we would look at the situation before year 7 but keep the option open to keep ds  where he is for secondary school if appropriate.

The only involvement u/npd exH has with ds's schooling is attendance at Parent Teacher interviews. He doesn't even help with homework.

Ds is now in grade 5 and is 11 years old. State schools only go to grade 6 so now is the time most parents start looking for secondary schools.

My current thinking is that we should use the opportunity we have to keep ds at his current school for years 7 and 8, giving us more time for his interests and skills to develop so that we can make a more informed decision regarding the rest of his schooling from year 9. I am happy with the current school and ds is happy there.

U/npd exH wants ds to attend the state school that is STILL BEING BUILT directly opposite the apartment block that he and his nwife live in.

That would mean that ds would have to leave everything he's ever known - live with them instead of me, leave his friends etc. -and become a latchkey kid in the city, where he knows no one, and attend a school that has no history to recommend it and is still working out its curriculum.

They live in a 2 bedroom apartment, an hour plus drive away. Ds has to share his room there with visitors on occasion and has nowhere in his room for a desk.

I have a 3 bedroom home with a big back yard. Ds has his own room with a desk.

U/npd exH (and his nwife) and I have been very open with ds about his schooling and tried to involve him in the discussion.

At first he would say one thing to please me then another to please his dad.

U/npd exH informed ds sometime ago that we couldn't agree on the schooling so we are going to mediation. That was on the same night that he told ds that I was mentally ill.  Ds was very distressed.

Ds is now just throwing up his hands and saying 'just send me to (u/npd exH's choice of school) and stop all the fighting. Poor kid.

So. We have mediation in a few weeks.

I've already said my piece. U/npd exH has already said his. What on earth should we talk about? We're at a stalemate.

I have asked u/npd exH to bring information about other schools to the meeting and I should do the same.

But no matter what school I suggest, u/npd exH won't agree to it.

I'm happy to look at other schools for year 9 onwards (3 1\2 years away.) I'm even happy to look at other schools for year 7 if in another year ds starts to strongly develop his long term interests and skills. I don't think that is likely though.

I should not enter mediation unprepared. But I really am at a loss as to what to bring to the table.

Any ideas, Folks?

I should mention that neither parent can remove a child from their school or enrol them in another without the other parent's permission.  They would have to go to court.

Court is extremely expensive. Unpd exH and his wife are wealthy. My income is about a 6th of their combined income. And hey. I'm already forking out $1000s for ds's current schooling.

AOD

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Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2018, 04:59:18 PM »
AOD,
Where I am, mediation is nonbinding. Basically the idea is to get everyone together to come to a resolution. If you don't agree, nothing changes. Is that how it is where you are? If that is the case, you're in a good position because the default is your position.

Do you think the school is really just a cover and what he really wants is for your son to move in with him? It sounds like that to me.

If your ex is like our BM, he is never going to agree to the school you want, and he's going to see it as all or nothing (either his school and son lives with him or your school and son lives with you) and he will fight to the death to get his way. Are there any possible compromises? Good schools close to you that fit what your ex wants? (Does he even have any concerns about the current school or is he just demanding a change for unclear reasons?) I think if there is a compromise to be found you'll have to do all the heavy lifting of finding it. If it were me, the most important thing would be to keep your son with you. But maybe there are some changes you would make that would be acceptable to you and would placate your ex. And like I said you're in a good position so you don't have to agree to this in exchange for nothing - maybe you can get him to agree in writing to keep son at the school for two years, to pay for fees, etc.

Here is how I would strategize for the meeting:
Come in with a hardline request. For example, say you want ex to pay school fees proportionate to income and a signed agreement that your son will be in his current school until year 8. And be ready to make your case for that.

When it comes to the school your ex wants, if mediation works like it does here you don't have to worry about convincing the mediator that your son shouldn't go to that school. Still, it doesn't hurt to ask your ex clarifying questions about why he wants this school, what are the benefits, etc. It would probably help to make it seem like you're hearing him out even if you've already made up your mind. (I even told SO, tell yourself you're keeping an open mind and pretend to yourself like you're willing to do her thing. That way you can have a real discussion about the pros and cons.)

Then when/if it's clear that neither of you are going to budge, be ready to offer a compromise. OK, you don't like this school, I don't like your school. Here are some other nearby schools that I like. How about we choose one of them for the next two years and we pay fees proportional to our incomes?

Then if he's engaging you be ready with more compromises. Like, in the example he probably doesn't like the money aspect you can say, OK we'll write it into the agreement that you each pay half of the fees directly to the school, rather than proportional.

These are just examples - maybe you're unwilling to compromise at all on the school but you are willing to compromise on something else. Obviously don't offer something you're not OK with. Basically my point is, start with a big ask and map out some potential compromises to offer in advance. With my SO's ex, she'll make a demand that will seem totally out of left field. But then it turns out there's some goal behind it and once we understand that, he can offer her something that meets her goal but also is acceptable to him. For example, she kept saying she wanted more time with the kids but then he figured out she really just wanted more child support. So he said, OK you can have more child support than you're entitled to but I still want that time with the kids. Boom, problem solved (although that agreement has created some problems in terms of tight finances on our end).

I would also advise you to focus on the facts and don't let him sidetrack you into a pointless argument. SO was able to do it in two different rooms, so the mediator was ferrying messages between him and his ex. I was dubious about that but it does sound like it really cut down on his ex's non sequitur attacks on him (or at least, the mediator didn't pass those along) which made it a lot easier for him to stay focused on the goals.

You probably won't come to an agreement then and there. And you definitely don't have to agree to something before you've had a chance to review it. But you can show that you are willing to be flexible and try to find something that you both think works for your son. I said this on another thread but my SO's ex will angrily reject any compromise proposal he comes up with. Then, often, she will come back several months later and propose it like it's her idea and he's the one standing in the way. It's pretty amazing how predictable it is. It's like, she knows it's the right thing to do but she can't bear to go along with his idea, so she needs to convince herself that it's HER idea and she's the reasonable one here. If your ex is anything like that, mediation won't end in a resolution but it might plant the seed for a resolution later.

I also suggest you get ready, to the extent that you're able, for the possibility that he might take you to court over this. It sounds like that's where he's headed and you don't want to be caught unprepared.

Good luck! I hope it goes well for you and your son.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2018, 07:13:36 AM »
Thanks, so much, Penny Lane.

Yes, mediation here does not require us to come to an agreement. So my preference, in this case, will be defaulted to until a court decides otherwise.

I do believe that now the school issue is a cover for u/npd exH's desire to have ds live with him. And completely alienate ds from me.

As mentioned, he is unlikely to agree to any school that I suggest, even if it meets all of his requirements.

My problem is, how do I "sell" a school to him in such a way that he thinks it was his idea?

There are good schools around me (within about 1/2 an hour ) but they are very expensive private schools. U/npd exH is unlikely to pay anything more than half of state school fees.

He's only given me 3 reasons for now disliking the school ds is currently at.  2 typically ludicrous ones and another that would have a smidgeon of merit if he'd bothered to discuss it with the school instead of just complaining about it to me.

Thankyou for your strategy suggestions.
I've tried the thing of presenting 3 options for him to choose from before, regarding finding a psychologist for ds.

Initially I suggested he find 3 for me to choose from. He presented me with 1. I refused because of travelling distance. He had a meltdown and finally presented me with 2 more. One much the same distance away (so I refused) and another who doesn't see children.

 :stars:

So I then spent about $500 on finding 3 psychologists that I was happy with. He refused them all without giving any reasons.  He said he'd get back to me with 3 further names and I've heard nothing since. That was 2 years ago.

So your suggestion of me presenting further schools is not likely to work, unfortunately. It's a great idea though.   :)

U/npd exH has only once, to my recollection, done a 180 and taken up a suggestion of mine after initially refusing it. And he did try to pass it off as his idea.

But his usual thing is to refuse point blank whatever I suggest and  continue to do so.

Thanks again, Penny Lane.

Hopefully some others can chime in soon?

AOD

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redfish

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2018, 08:46:48 AM »
Ugh it just never ends!!! I'm so sorry youre going through this. My thought is he's just trying to find a way to have DS full-time. I don't have any advice or recommendations as i have not yet been in this particular situation, though I'm sure it will come. Hopefully not but it'd be weird if it didn't.

I would think things would be in your favor in this situation as DS is already established in your area and your living situation (to me) is more comfortable for him to concentrate on his studies. I would use that argument myself.
I feel so bad for your son. I'm sure he can clearly see that you are NOT mentally ill.
If Cinderella went back to pick up her shoe she never would've become a princess

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Me_Again

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2018, 09:23:33 AM »
Iím so sorry you and your son are going through this. Could you get your sonís teachers to write reports regarding how well heís doing at his school, how many friends he has, activities heís in, etc.?

In my SPP, it states that if uNPDxH and I canít reach an agreement regarding DD15ís education, then my sister makes the final determination. He canít get away with not paying 50% of her tuition and fees because thatís also spelled out in our SPP. If he does stop paying, heíd be held in contempt, could lose parenting time, pay all of my legal and court fees, and his wages would be garnished.

Good luck.

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elly87

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2018, 10:25:22 AM »
I went through mediation with an NPD ex. It didnt work and i lost thousands.  NPDs tend to not do well in mediation because they want absolutely everything and feel they should get everything. mediation is about compromise and everyone winning and losing. sounds like your ex has a plan to have your son as much as possible and exclude you from his life as much as possible because thats what HE wants.

in court, the judge will determine what is in the best interests of the children based on all presented factors, which can help (not always) protect the child from narcissistic damage.

Its so hard either way in terms of finances, but at least a judge will definitely give you an answer, whereas in mediation you can be throwing money and time down the drain and end up going to court to settle it anyway.

im sorry you are going through this. Im 4 years into my divorce with NPD ex and his tactics never end.


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turtlemama

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 12:57:38 PM »
I just went through mediation with my ex over his appeal of the divorce. He didnít like the outcome from the decision so he wanted to give me less assets than the judge decided and have more time with DS (than what the judge decided).

Like other posters have said itís all about winning for most PDs. Iíll never get back all the attorney fees I was awarded.

My attorney told me yesterday that even if he doesnít get the extra time with DS or even if he does, exuPD can come back with a ďchange of circumstances ď and ask for more time or modification of the parenting agreement. You think if you compromise with them itíll be OK but it never stops. They want more, more, more.  Itís depressing. Living with the what ifís. What will he try next.

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Associate of Daniel

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2018, 08:42:47 AM »
Thanks for your support, Folks.

Mediation is in 2 days.

I'm still at a loss as to what to say.

One thought I had was to ask u/npd exH to show me the curriculum details of the school he wants ds11 to attend. You know, the one that's still being built.

I contacted that school a few months ago and asked for an information pack. There is no such thing yet (obviously). The web site is all eduspeak and political jargon and consequently tells you- nothing.

It will be interesting to hear how he explains why he thinks his choice of school is the best, when there is no supporting material.

I have substantial details of curriculum for a couple of other schools.

One is a private school so is basically out of the question costwise but gives a good indication of what's possible in terms of curriculum and opportunities.

The other is a local government school which u/npd exH says he looked into but he rejected on the grounds that the one still being built opposite his residence is better (in his opinion).

I'm hesitant to insist he pays all of the fees or a percentage based on our incomes as it may come back to bite me.

There may be things I don't want ds to attend and if I'm not seen to be giving an equal contribution, my opinion/request may not be considered by the school.

I'd love to have a break from paying fees though. U/npd exH owes me close to $10,000 for his share of ds's primary school fees.

This post has been more about clarifying my thoughts, really.

But any support/suggestions  will be welcome.

This mediation meeting is coming off the back of an horrendous week. Plus I've been unwell today.

I feel very under prepared.

AOD

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mamato3

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 09:49:41 PM »


Mediation is in 2 days.

I'm still at a loss as to what to say.

I feel very under prepared.

AOD

I'm sorry. I have no experience with mediation (it wasn't allowed due to DV) but I will be thinking of you tomorrow. Please update us so we know how you are.

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Liftedfog

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #9 on: Today at 06:28:07 AM »
Sorry.  Maybe I'm missing something but why can't he just stay where he is?   Show report cards he is thriving. A note from teacher showing he has a circle of friends.  A judge wouldn't want to change anything that is working for the child just because a parent feels like it.   Imo.

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Whiteheron

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Re: Mediation re choice of secondary school
« Reply #10 on: Today at 07:38:50 AM »
Sorry.  Maybe I'm missing something but why can't he just stay where he is?   Show report cards he is thriving. A note from teacher showing he has a circle of friends.  A judge wouldn't want to change anything that is working for the child just because a parent feels like it.   Imo.

 :yeahthat:

Strong social networks are in the best interest of the child. relocating your DS to a new school (that doesn't have a proven track record and may not even be open in time for this coming year) where he will see you even less is not in his best interest. It will upend his entire world. Our children need stability, not upheaval. I hope the judge sees through this.
Good luck today!
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