A Parenting Coordinator is a neutral third party, usually an attorney or a mental health provider, who is appointed by the Court to work with parents after their court case is over. The goal of a Parenting Coordinator is to help parents understand and implement the terms of their decree or paternity order so that further litigation is unnecessary. A Parenting Coordinator is a neutral “referee” who can help to minimize conflict and resolve issues as they arise.
How does the Parenting Coordination Process Work?
A Parenting Coordinator will meet with both parties to learn more about their unique situation and family dynamic. This includes gaining an understanding of the history of parental conflict, matters of current concern, and each child’s unique needs and circumstances.
Parenting Coordinators will sometimes meet with children, or observe parenting time with either or both parents, if necessary. A Parenting Coordinator may review reports, school records, and court documents or speak to teachers, coaches, therapists, doctors, grandparents, caregivers, and other important people to help address on going conflict.
The process of Parenting Coordination is two-fold:
- Mediation: The Parenting Coordinator facilitates discussion between the parties (either together or separately) and encourages the parents to learn to negotiate and compromise whenever possible. A Parenting Coordinator will ask you to consistently focus on their children’s best interest.
- Decision Making; Some Court orders appointing a Parenting Coordinator will specify that the Parenting Coordinator can make recommendations to the parents regarding how to solve specific disagreements. These recommendations are generally put into effect unless and until the party who does not agree with the recommendation receives a court order reversing the Parenting Coordinators’ recommendations. Parenting Coordinators are not Judges or Arbitrators and their recommendations are not court orders.
When is Parenting Coordination Helpful?
Parenting Coordination is helpful for people who have a difficult time getting along, but do not want to take every disagreement to Court. Court orders are often full of “loopholes” that create opportunities for conflict and disagreements. People often interpret the same order in two different ways, and the Parenting Coordinator will work with parties to reach mutual agreements and understanding of Court orders. Additionally, a court order cannot be written in a way that covers every parenting problem that may come up over the years. A Parenting Coordinator can help parties fine-tune and modify their parenting plan and communication to insure that parental conflict is resolved as quickly as possible.