In high-conflict separations or divorces, parenting issues may arise with greater frequency that continues to bring parents back to Court for resolution. In order to assist parents with their parenting needs, I will act as a Parenting Coordinator for both parents and their children for a specified period of time on an as need basis in order to protect and sustain safe, healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships.
What is Parenting Coordination?
A Parenting Coordinator is a neutral person to whom parents can turn to when in dispute on matters relating to their children. It is a non-confidential, child-centered process for conflicted divorced and/or divorcing parents.
A Parenting Coordinator (referred to as PC) works together with parents to assist them in implementing their previously agreed to and/or court ordered parenting plans expeditiously and in a manner that protects their children from ongoing parental conflict. A PC also educates parents to develop more effective problem solving and communication skills regarding the impact of parental conflict on their child’s development. The overall emphasis is to offer children the right to grow in a home environment free from the devastating stress of being caught in the middle of parental conflict.
Parenting Coordination uses both mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes about parenting issues as they arise from time to time once the parents have reached a final order or agreement dealing with custody and guardianship of and access to their children.
What is Mediation?
When it is in the best interest of the children for their parents to reach an agreement I will act as a mediator. During the mediation process, I will attempt to help parents to compromise and reach an agreement about a dispute. I will listen to the issues being raised by either parent after which time, I will then contact the other parent to obtain an understanding on his or her take on things. In my role as mediator, I will always attempt to mediate an agreement before making a decision. It is important to note that my role is to manage the process while the decisions about the terms of an agreement are made by both parties. In addition, I do not provide legal advice to either party. Once an issue has been mediated, I will recommend that each party obtain independent legal advice to formalize their settlement in a separation agreement or consent order.
What is Arbitration?
When an agreement between the parties cannot be reached during the mediation process, I will verbally and in writing indicate that I will arbitrate on the issue. As arbitrator, I will hear arguments of both parties then deliver a written decision that is as enforceable as a court order.
What decisions can a Parenting Coordinator make?
Decisions that a Parenting Coordinator may resolve when the parties cannot agree include such things as:
Extra-curricular activities and lessons
Management of clothing and belongings between two homes
The time of and parental conduct during transitions including date, time, place, means of transportation and transporter
Temporary and minor changes or clarification of parenting time schedule/access schedules including vacation, holidays, and temporary variation from the existing parenting plan
Religious observances and education
Children’s travel and passport arrangements
Alteration of appearance of the children (haircuts, piercing)
Health care management (medical, dental, orthodontic, vision care, psychotherapy)
Role and contact with significant others and extended families
Substance abuse assessment or testing for either or both parents or child, including access to results
Parenting classes for either or both parents
Parenting coordinators do not arbitrate changes to the custody provisions or substantial changes to the residential schedule or determine a re-location nor do they conduct child custody and access assessments or therapy. Financial matters are typically excluded as well.
What are the Benefits of Parenting Coordination?
Non-adversarial , prompt and consistent resolution to parental concerns
Diminishes the child’s sense of loyalty
Resolving day-to-day child-rearing issues in a timely and cost efficient manner
Educating parents regarding the impact of parental conflict on their child’s development
Teaching parents anger management and conflict resolution skills
Focuses parents on their children’s needs
Engages parents in implementing the parenting plan for the sake of their children
Assists parents in working out changes to the Parenting Plan as their children mature or circumstances change
Providing a stabilizing presence for the family as case manager and team leader
Providing a communication channel for both parents to voice their concerns
Monitoring parental compliance
Reducing the number of litigated cases and reliance on the Courts