Craine Family
Mediation

 

PARENTING COORDINATOR

 

 

What is Parenting Coordination?

Parenting coordination is seen as a hybrid method of alternative dispute resolution processes for high conflict families.  It is hybrid because it uses a variety of dispute resolution techniques if done properly.  Parenting Coordination utilizes mediation skills and, when necessary, requires the professional to make a recommendation of the court as to how a matter should be handled regarding the minor children.

“More than one million children each year are affected by divorce and family separation.  Half of these children will be raised in families where parents remain in conflict.  Many of these parents engage in ongoing litigation over their children for years.  Children raised in an atmosphere of unrelenting conflict are four to five times as likely to grow up with serious emotional and behavioral difficulties.  Not only are high-conflict cases damaging to innocent children, they require an inordinate amount of the court time and mental health services.  Consequently, high-conflict divorces pose grave concerns for mental health and legal professionals.  In order to minimize the adverse effects of divorce on children and families, many parents are encouraged to court ordered to work with a parenting coordinator.” (www.parentingcoordinationcentral.com)

According to the Association for Family Conciliation and Courts Guidelines for Parenting Coordination:

“Parenting Coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a mental health or legal professional with mediation training and experience assists high conflicts high conflicts parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner, educating parents about children’s needs, and with prior approval of the parties and/or the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order or appointment contract.” (AFCC Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, May 2005)

The Guidelines go on to say that:

“The overall objective of parenting coordination is to assist high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan, to monitor compliance with the details of the plan, to resolve conflicts regarding their children and the parenting plan in a timely manner, and to protect and sustain safe, healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships.  Parenting Coordination is a quasi-legal, mental health, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that combines assessment, education, case management, conflict management and, sometimes, decision-making functions.” (AFCC Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, May 2005)

Parenting Coordination is most frequently used with high conflict parents who have “demonstrated the long-term inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own, to comply with parenting agreements and orders, to reduce child-related conflicts, and to protect their children from the impact of that conflict.” (AFCC Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, May 2005)

The parenting coordinator makes recommendations and/or decisions for the parties.  Therefore, he/she should be appointed by and be responsible to the court.

 

What are the functions of a Parenting Coordinator?

A parenting coordinator provides the following functions: assessment, educational, coordination / case management with other professionals and systems involved with the family, conflict management, decision-making, and SHALL NOT offer legal advice.  (AFCC Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, IV, pp. 8 and 9, May 2005)

In addition, the scope of the parenting coordinator’s duties may include making recommendations about:

  • Transportation and transfers of children between parents
  • Vacations and holidays: schedules and implementation
  • Daily routines
  • Activities and recreation
  • Discipline
  • Health care management, including: determining and recommending appropriate medical and mental health evaluation and treatment (including psychotherapy, substance abuse and domestic violence treatment and / or counseling, and parenting classes) for children and parents.  The parenting Coordinator shall designate whether any recommended counseling is or is not confidential.  The Parenting Coordinator can recommend how any health care provider is chosen
  • School related issues
  • Alterations in the parenting schedule, so long as the basic time-sharing arrangement is not changed by more than a specified number of days per month
  • Phase-n provision of court orders
  • Participation by significant others, relatives, etc. in parenting time
  • Child care / day care / babysitting issues
  • Any other matters submitted to him / her jointly by the parties prior to the expiration of his / her term

Parenting Coordinators should also be authorized to have:

  • Reasonable access to the children
  • Notice of all proceedings, including requests for examinations affecting the children
  • Access to any therapist of any of the parties or children, and access to school, medical or activity records
  • Copies of all evaluations and psychological test results performed on any child or any parent or custodian or guardian or other persons living in the parents’ households, including Friend of the Report reports, psychological evaluations, etc.
  • Access to principal / teacher / teacher’s aides of the children
  • The right to interview the parties, attorney’s or children in combination and to exclude any party or attorney from such an interview
  • The right to interview or communicate with any other person the Parenting Coordinator deems relevant to resolve an issue before his / her or to provide information / counsel to promote the best interests of the children

For more information including setting up an appointment, please contact us or call us at 248-539-3850.