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In this article we explain parenting coordinators including: What is a parenting coordinator?, What are the responsibilities of a parenting coordinator?, What issues can a parenting coordinator help with?, Who can benefit from a parenting coordinator?, Who can benefit from a parenting coordinator?, Who pays for the parenting coordinator?, What should I expect with a parenting coordinator?, What type of training does a parenting coordinator have?, and What are the benefits of a parenting coordinator?

In this article we explain parenting coordinators including:

  • What is a parenting coordinator?
  • What are the responsibilities of a parenting coordinator?
  • What issues can a parenting coordinator help with?
  • Who can benefit from a parenting coordinator?
  • How can I get a parenting coordinator?
  • Who pays for the parenting coordinator?
  • What should I expect with a parenting coordinator?
  • What type of training does a parenting coordinator have?
  • What are the benefits of a parenting coordinator?

This article will explain what is a parenting coordinator, what is their role, and who can benefit from a parenting coordinator. After reading this article, you should have a better idea if a parenting coordinator may be a good option for you.

What is a parenting coordinator?

A parenting coordinator is a trained individual who assists parents in making parenting decisions for the child’s best interest in situations where the parents cannot get along. It is sometimes difficult for parents to separate the issue of past hurt with an ex-partner from the underlying legitimate parenting issue. A parenting coordinator is a neutral third party. Therefore, if a suggestion comes from an unbiased source without the emotional charge that may come from suggestions from the other parent, agreements can be more easily reached. The parenting coordinator helps the parents in reaching a solution to their parenting conflict.

Generally speaking, the parenting coordinator helps the parents manage their parenting plans, resolve disputes, manage conflict, and improve their communication skills. Instead of one parent directly informing the other parent of an issue, the issue gets relayed to the parenting coordinator who takes an active role in helping the parents to come up with a solution to that problem. The goal is to assist the parents in reducing conflict, teaching the parents more effective co-parenting skills, and thereafter assisting the parents in becoming more effective in harmonious parenting. A parenting coordinator can weigh in on the day to day application of a parenting plan, assist with conflicts as they arise, and avoid further future litigation. It’s important to keep in mind however that a parenting coordinator is not a judge and cannot make a final determination of law. It’s also important to know that typically conversations with a parenting coordinator are not confidential and are not protected by attorney-client privilege since the parenting coordinator does not represent either party.

What are the responsibilities of a parenting coordinator?

There are several responsibilities of a parenting coordinator including:

  • Mediating disputes between the parents concerning parenting issues.
  • Monitoring court orders and reporting any allegations of noncompliance of court orders to the court.
  • Making recommendations to the court if/when necessary including recommending outside resources such as random drug testing, parenting classes, and therapy.
  • Maintaining communication between the parents by serving as a line of communication between parents.
  • Recommending approaches to the parents that will reduce conflict between parents and reduce unnecessary stress for the child.
  • Educating the parents.
  • Giving the parents tools and practices to help facilitate healthy communication.

What issues can a parenting coordinator help with?

Parenting coordinators can be helpful in navigating issues that either are ambiguous or not contemplated in a parenting plan. For example, COVID-19 brought upheaval to everyone’s lives. It is not a situation that was contemplated in parenting plans and couples needed to navigate many issues including would the child participate in in person or e-learning, who would be responsible for e-learning, what types of behaviors are considered safe and acceptable, what people, if any, should a parent/ child interact with, should a child travel across state lines, etc. For parents who are not able to effectively communicate, these issues can spiral into conflict. Without the help of a parenting coordinator, the parties would likely be forced to file a petition with the court and litigate the issue. Every day examples of what a parenting coordinator can assist with include:

Parenting time

  • Due to a parent’s variable work schedule, some parents have vague provisions as to days/ times for parenting. A parenting coordinator can help the parties resolve issues surrounding the implementation of the parenting plan.
  • A change in employment may require a change in parenting time schedule. A parenting coordinator can help the parties come to an agreement about the implementation of a modified parenting plan.

Vacations including dates/time or locations

  • If both parties want to exercise their vacation parenting time during the same week, the parenting coordinator can help the parties resolve the issue as to who should get that week and provide options for an alternate week for the other parent.
  • A parenting coordinator can help facilitate the conversation of whether or not a particular location safe to go to (i.e.- country in turmoil and therefore increased violence, public health crisis, etc.)

Expenses

  • Does a certain activity “count” as an extracurricular activity? A parenting coordinator can review the parenting plan and explain the types of extracurricular expenses that were (or were not) contemplated in the parenting plan and help mediate the issue with the parties.
  • Should a “unnecessary” medical expense be reimbursed? (i.e.- taking a child to the emergency room for a papercut). A parenting coordinator can review the parenting plan and explain the types of medical expenses that were (or were not) contemplated in the parenting plan and help mediate the issue with the parties.

Decisions


For decisions about medical, school, extracurricular, or religion, a parenting coordinator can explain to the parties what was (or was not) contemplated in the parenting plan and help mediate the issue with the parties. Examples of common issues that arise include:

  • Is a medical procedure necessary and should the child undergo the procedure?
  • Religion- should a child participate in a particular religious custom?
  • Should a child participate in a certain extracurricular activity?
  • What high school should our child go to?

Who can benefit from a parenting coordinator?

Any parent who is facing ongoing litigation relating to contested issues about decisions relating to the child can benefit from a parenting coordinator. In particular, parents who are involved in a high conflict divorce or parentage case may benefit from a parenting coordinator. Individuals who have difficulty communicating and who are continually fighting over decisions about their child may benefit from a parenting coordinator.

How can I get a parenting coordinator?

A parenting coordinator can either be court appointed or parents can voluntarily choose to utilize a parenting coordinator. The court may order a parenting coordinator if the parents failed to adequately cooperate and communicate with regard to issues involving the child or if the parents have been unable to implement a parenting plan or parenting schedule.

Who pays for the parenting coordinator?

The parenting coordinator is paid for by the parties. The court will determine who pays what percentage of the parenting coordinator’s fees. Parenting coordinators typically charge an hourly rate and those rates are typically in line with what other family law attorneys charge.

What should I expect with a parenting coordinator?

Similar to mediators, each parenting coordinator has a slightly different approach to a case. Sometimes the parenting coordinator will speak with (or meet) the parents individually and sometimes the parenting coordinator will speak with (or meet) the parents jointly. Depending on the issue, the parenting coordinator may also want to speak with the child. The goal of these conversations is so the parenting coordinator can understand the conflict and can identify the underlying goals and issues for each parent. The parenting coordinator may also want to speak to the parents to gain a better understanding of the past history of the parents’ relationship and past patterns of communication between the parents. The parenting coordinator will also need to review the parenting plan and any other relevant court orders. The parenting coordinator will try to educate the parents and will propose a solution to the parents. Depending on the role of the parenting coordinator, the proposal can either simply be a recommendation for the parents to accept or reject or in some cases, the parenting coordinator can make the decision for the parents.

What type of training does a parenting coordinator have?

A parenting coordinator is typically either an attorney or a mental health professional. The parenting coordinator should also have training in family mediation.

What are the benefits of a parenting coordinator?

There are a number of benefits to using a parenting coordinator including:

  • Spending less time in court and therefore less time off work and less attorney’s fees
  • Spending less time arguing with the other parent
  • Reducing conflict and stress for the parents and child
  • Receiving education/ tools on how to resolve conflict
  • Learning better communication skills
  • Learning better problem-solving skills
  • Becoming a better role model for your child and set an example of how-to co-parent

Posted 
November 23, 2020
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