After divorce, many parents continue to have disputes over the co-parenting of their children. Rather than go to a judge to decide the issue, the courts often recommend and/or the parties on their own can begin using parenting coordinators.
Parenting coordinators employ a child-focused alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process designed to help parents implement their parenting plan and resolve conflicts between themselves. They can assist in addressing a wide variety of issues such as parenting time during vacations and holidays, education and extracurricular activities, medical treatment and other concerns.
There are numerous benefits to using parenting coordinators to resolve conflicts, but it does have its limitations:
Expertise. A parenting coordinator (PC) is generally required to be a licensed mental health professional or licensed attorney with experience in an area relating to families, or a certified family mediator with a master’s degree in a mental health field. Generally, he/she must have completed specific training requirements, maintain professional competence in the parenting coordination process and have extensive practical experience with high conflict or litigating parents. Often, PCs have specific expertise in child development and child psychology.
Broad purpose. The parenting coordination process is used for parents who have shown an inability to address their disputes effectively. PCs have a quasi-legal, mental health role where they help facilitate dispute resolution by assessing the needs of the children, teaching parents how to communicate effectively and find common ground and monitor compliance with parenting agreements. PCs are typically appointed by the court and report their recommendations to the judge. They cannot impose decisions on the parties, but with their consent, the PC may make decisions within the scope of a court order or appointment contract.
Control over selection. Although the court appoints the PC, the parties can make their own suggestions which are generally honored so long as the PCs meet the appropriate requirements. This often helps parents feel more comfortable with the person who is working with their family.
Faster and less costly. The purpose of parenting coordination is to keep the parties out of court and help facilitate agreement between the parents when they have disputes. Much like mediation, it is generally quicker and less expensive than going to court. Before parents involve attorneys and a judge, they can also privately engage a PC, which further reduces the time and money needed to resolve conflicts.
If you are engaging in disputes with your former spouse over your children, contact us to discuss how to resolve your conflict in the most effective manner.