Parenting coordination is a combination of services that includes family therapy, parent education, parenting plan development, and/or mediation. Parenting coordination is generally court ordered when divorcing or separating families are unable to work together, in the best interest of their children, in implementing an effective co-parenting plan and to help facilitate necessary changes in the family. This service is child-focused, by helping to reduce conflict between parents and decreasing chronic litigation (saving time and money) and increasing their skills and abilities to collaboratively make decision for their children.
When is parenting coordination appropriate?
Parenting coordination is conducted when parents are in constant conflict with each other and when going to court over every dispute does not make sense due to the cost and time involved. Sometimes parenting coordination is necessary when one parent has concerns about the other parent’s ability to parent the child appropriately due to long periods of no contact, drug abuse, lifestyle or other factors that could impact the individual’s ability to parent their child. These services are usually court ordered when the Judge and court feels that many of the issues that are brought to hearing could be solved with a third party mediator.
How are parenting coordination services provided?
The process is designed to assist parents in making decisions and resolving conflict about their children. In the absence of a mutually agreeable resolution to a conflict, the Parenting Coordinator is empowered to make the decision for the parties. The Parenting Coordinator serves as a facilitator, a mediator, or as an impartial decision maker. In the latter instance, the role becomes that of an arbitrator. Initially the Parenting Coordinator meets with the parties individually and/or together. Subsequent communication may occur over the telephone or electronic mail in addition to or instead of in-person meetings. The Parenting Coordinators may also talk with the children or other professionals to gather the information necessary to understand the family and the issues. Written minutes and/or decisions are generally sent to the parties. If either of the parties is unhappy with that decision, the issue can be brought before a judge. However, until a court order dictates otherwise, the decision of the Parenting Coordinator is binding on the parties by virtue of either the signed Parenting Coordinator Agreement, stipulation of the parties, or the court order of appointment.
What services do parenting coordinators provide?
Parenting Coordinators often work with parents on developing a detailed parenting plan to eliminate conflict areas, although the parties may agree to limit the Parenting Coordinator’s determinations to specific issues. Frequent issues addressed by Parenting Coordinators include parenting time schedules, holiday schedules, school vacations, transition/exchanges of the children, travel arrangements, extracurricular activities, medical/health care appointments, mental health care and treatment, child rearing issues and household rules, education/daycare/tutoring/testing, parent/teacher meetings, clothing and personal possessions, communications between parents about the children, involvement of significant others and relatives, and religious issues. The Parenting Coordinator may also work to educate parents about the impact divorce or separation has on their children and may monitor compliance with court orders and agreements.
Who pays for the Parenting Coordinator?
Most often the Parenting Coordinator fees are split between the parties, usually on a 50/50 basis. This is generally clarified by contract with the Parenting Coordinator and may be specified by stipulation of the parties or court order. Usually Parenting Coordinators put a clause in their fee agreements that the fees can be reallocated if one of the parties is not acting in good faith or if one uses the services a disproportionate amount of time.
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