AREAS OF PRACTICE
A parenting coordinator is a court-ordered individual (sometimes mutually selected) to assist parties who have ongoing disputes regarding parenting decisions. The Parent Coordinator assists the parties in implementing safe and workable parenting plans and often resolves ongoing day to day decisions and difficulties parents experience. The use of a Parent Coordinator may be necessary when parental communication is conflictual or ineffective, or to promote the safety of vulnerable parties, including children or the parents. Parent Coordinators are helpful in reducing conflict between parents which in turn reduces the ongoing chronic litigation. Assistance is provided to raise the parents' skill levels in collaborative planning and decision making for their children. The Parent Coordinator also assists parents such that they may co-parent in a way that promotes the well-being of their children.
The appointment of a Parent Coordinator includes a detailed Order by the Court including authorized areas of decision making. Typically, the Parent Coordinator does not make decisions which alter an award of legal or physical custody. The scope of issues typically addressed by a Parent Coordinator include minor changes or clarifications of parenting time/access to schedules or conditions including vacations, holidays and temporary variations from the current schedule; transitions/exchanges of the children; health care management; child rearing issues; psychotherapy or other mental health care or substance abuse care for the parents or children; education or daycare decisions such as selection of school, participation in special education or extra-curricular activities, or other major educational decisions; the exchange of personal possessions belonging to the children; communication between the parents or communication between parents and children.
Parent Coordinators are also instrumental in educating the parties in areas concerning child development, short term and long term needs of the children, communication skills, the effects of conflict on children, collaboration strategies, access of information, alternate conflict resolution and a change in family relationships and/or dynamics.
Parent Coordinators function outside the formal family court process however they are accountable to the court; in so much as they write and file their decisions as recommended court orders or reports and adhere to the court rules and procedures. The Parent Coordinators' actions are subject to judicial and professional review. The Parent Coordinators have access to non-parties involved with the family such as medical and mental health professionals, as well as individuals in an educational setting. Access includes being able to speak with the children when appropriate, as well as being able to obtain any information necessary to execute his or her duties. A Parent Coordinator also helps monitor compliance with the details of the plan or a court order and help resolve child related disputes in a timely manner. The Parent Coordinator is able to provide a structured intervention to address conflict and decision making through assessment, education, conflict management, dispute resolution and decision making. The Parent Coordinator hears the parents' disputes and attempts to understand the impasse preventing agreement. through a negotiation and mediation process. If no agreement is reached, the Parent Coordinator has the ability to issue a recommendation regarding any unresolved issue on which the parents are unable to agree. The recommendation of the Parent Coordinator generally remains in effect unless the parties agree otherwise or is changed by the overseeing court. The parents always have the right and opportunity to have the decision heard by the Court. The Parent Coordinator only has the authority delegated by the court order.