Should parents require assistance in developing a Parenting Place; or it becomes evident that sections of an existing Parenting Plan are not meeting the children’s needs or conflicts arise and the parents are unable to come to a mutually acceptable arrangement, compromise or agreement between them, they may turn to the guidance and assistance of a Parenting Coordinator (PC).
When children are exposed to ongoing conflict between their parents, they are at significant risk for social, academic and mental health problems and may experience more difficulty with their own intimate relationships in the long term. Parenting coordination can help to reduce parents’ conflict and may shield children from exposure to their parents’ disagreements. The PC can help parents resolve child-related issues in a timely manner without court involvement and can protect and sustain safe, healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships. Most importantly, the PC can help parents focus on the best interests of their children, rather than on their anger toward one another.
Parenting coordination is appropriate for high conflict cases dealing with child-related issues, such as when:
● There is a high rate of litigation, especially concerning the implementation of a custody order or parenting plan.
● Mediation has not been successful or has been deemed inappropriate.
● Parents need assistance developing, modifying or implementing their parenting plan.
● Parents have difficulty communicating information about their child’s welfare.
● Parenting are unable to agree on substantive issues concerning their child.
● There are complex child-related or family issues that require intensive case managing.
● Parents can afford to pay for the PC’s services.
Caution: Parenting Coordination is not for cases where it has been determined
that the process may compromise the safety of parents and/or children.
Parenting coordination is a dispute resolution process combining assessment, education, case management, conflict resolution and sometimes, decision-making functions. A PC is typically appointed by agreement of the parents to implement, modify and comply with the parenting plan. PCs assist parents by providing:
(1) education about co-parenting and parental communication;
(2) the psychological and developmental needs of the children;
(3) strategies to manage conflict and reduce the negative effects on children;
(4) effective post-separation parenting.
To further assist parents and children, PCs facilitate referrals to community providers when necessary and collaborate with other professionals who may already be involved with the family.
PCs can also help parents create their parenting plan and can make recommendations and/or decisions for the parents as specified in a Court Order or Agreement. Any decisions made by the PC are subject to the review of the court, which is an important safeguard to the process.
In brief, the purposes of the PC are:
● To de-escalate parental conflict.
● To prioritize the children’s best interests.
● To promote the children’s optimum adjustment.
● To resolve issues/disputes in a time and cost efficient manner in order to avoid costly legal proceedings.
● To benefit from the direction of a qualified, third party professional.
● To provide consultation to parents and may coach and educate them about ways to better communicate about the children and about ways to better communicate between themselves, with the goal of helping to ultimately resolve issues amicably and efficiently on our own without involving the parenting coordinator.
Some of the purposes of parental coordination include:
● De-escalating any parental conflict.
● Prioritizing the children’s best interests.
● Promoting the children’s optimum adjustment.
● Resolving issues/disputes in a time and cost efficient manner in order to avoid costly legal proceedings.
● Benefiting the parties from the direction of a qualified, third party professional.
● Providing consultation, coaching and education to the parties about ways to better communicate about the children and about ways to better communicate with each other, with a goal of helping the parties ultimately resolve issues amicably and efficiently on their own without involving the parenting coordinator.
● Assisting with the implementation, maintenance and monitoring of the terms of the Parenting Plan.
● Addressing any anticipated conflicts in the children’s scheduling that may occur.
● Developing any additional clarifying clauses that may be required given situations and events that unfold that were not initially anticipated when the Parenting Plan was developed and thereby clarifying and resolving different interpretations that may arise under the Plan.
● Monitoring the children’s adjustment to the parenting plan.
● Assisting in the maintenance of the children’s relationship with each parent and any new partners in future.
● Resolving conflicts between the parents concerning the children’s participation in recreation and extra-curricular activities and programmes and in the equitable sharing of the associated costs and expenses.
● Addressing issues surrounding the costs of and movement of clothing, equipment and personal possessions between households.
● Addressing the children’s travel arrangements.
● Resolving any conflicts concerning health care, education, passports, “risky activities,” religious education and events that are not otherwise allocated for in the parenting plan.
● Addressing and resolving any change in the geographic residence of one of the parties.
Parents who have gone through the court system understand not only the emotional trauma but the excessive costs involved. As a result, many parents desire to avoid the cost and trauma (especially to their children) of any future legal proceedings. It is for this reason that parents enter into the Parental Coordination Agreement, thereby allowing a PC to make final, binding decisions relating to the children’s welfare – if the parents are unable to come to a mutual agreement between themselves.
When the parents initially entered into a Parenting Coordination Agreement, they may choose in advance to arbitrate any “irresolvable” issues. In other words, should it be become apparent to the PC that continued similar efforts are unlikely to resolve the issue(s) at hand, then to resolve the dispute, the PC will arbitrate, defined as a “secondary arbitration” by the Family Law Act.