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What is parenting coordination?

When parents decide to separate, they often reach agreements about custody and parenting time. Sometimes they need to go to court or mediate to resolve their differences. In any situation, issues arise in the future that may not have been considered or unresolved conflict persists between the parents of the child/ren. Is there an alternative to returning to court or mediation and one that will oftentimes have a lasting and positive impact? The answer is “yes,” and that alternative is to bring in a parenting coordinator (a PC).

A parenting coordinator is a professional with specialized training – an attorney or mental health professional – who can be given the authority to assist the parties in resolving routine parenting conflicts. Let me give you an example. You have a brother or niece having a wedding in a few months that falls on the parenting weekend of your ex. You contact your ex, but your either will not respond or the response is toxic or unreasonable, i.e., “Let me stop paying support for a week and I will say yes.”

If a parenting coordinator was involved in the case, the aggrieved party would email the PC with the issue, and the other side would have a brief period to respond. The PC would then issue a recommendation. For example, in this case, the recommendation might be letting the parent and child attend the wedding and creating some make-up time for the other parent to spend with the child.  This would problem solve the issue and keep the parents out of court. Depending upon the authority of the PC, the PC may also have the authority to impose fees for time spent on the unreasonable party.  A PC does not replace a judge but may be given limited authority to make minor decisions with the consent of the parties. If this consent is not given, once a PC’s recommendation is made, either party can take it to the judge who will most often defer to the PC who is closely involved in the case. The judge can then award fees against the difficult party.

There are many models of parenting coordination utilized; the role of the PC may be customized to each unique case. In some cases, after the PC serves the family for a period of time, behaviors improve and the parents end their involvement.

Parenting coordination is a direct, cost-saving process that is typically highly successful and creates huge benefits for all involved.

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