If you and your former spouse are fighting over some aspect of your child custody agreement or parenting time schedule, a parenting coordinator can help resolve the dispute without going to a judge. However, what if you don’t agree with the coordinator’s tactics or approach? How do you know if your parenting coordinator is doing a good job? Before you give up on the person or the process, it’s important to understand the scope of a parenting coordinator’s job.
What Is a Parenting Coordinator?
A parenting coordinator (PC) is a person who is retained by the parties or appointed by a judge, in certain instances, to assist parents who cannot resolve their disputes to keep them out of court. Generally, a PC is 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 the mental health field.
PCs can help with a wide variety of conflicts including those involving parenting time during vacations and holidays, education and extracurricular activities, medical treatment, and other concerns.
Notably, parents can also hire a parenting coordinator on their own before going to a judge.
How Does a Parenting Coordinator Help Resolve Disputes?
Even in the most amicable divorces, it is common for parents to have conflicts over their children. This happens during marriage too but after divorce, parents are more likely to want to get their own way and less likely to compromise. Those feelings can lead to a court battle if neither side is willing to settle. To avoid this result, a parenting coordinator can come in to guide parents toward compromise.
The role of a parenting coordinator is not to act as a judge. Generally, a PC does not have the authority to decide issues unless the parties consent to that in a parenting agreement or appointment contract. Instead, PCs evaluate the needs of the children and then facilitate discussion between the parties. Like a mediator, the PC can guide the parties in how to look at concerns from their child’s perspective, communicate more effectively and find common ground so they can come to an amicable agreement. PCs can also suggest alternatives that parents may not have considered.
Could Your Family Benefit from Counseling?
While PCs often have a mental health background, they are not a replacement for counseling. Divorce is stressful and the effects linger long after the marriage has ended legally. If you find that you aren’t able to settle conflicts, it may help for you and your former spouse to separately seek counseling to address emotional issues that may be standing in the way of effective co-parenting.
Turning to a parenting coordinator can keep you out of court but may not work for every situation. If you are having continuing disputes with your former spouse over your children, contact us to discuss how to resolve your conflict in the most effective manner.