What is parenting coordination?
Parenting coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process that helps parents in high conflict cases resolve parenting disputes without court intervention.
How do parents begin the parenting coordination process?
Parents who would like to engage a parenting coordinator do so by agreement. Once the parents agree to use a parenting coordinator, an order appointing the parenting coordinator and defining the parenting coordinator’s authority to make decisions and recommendations is drafted, signed by the parents and submitted to the court for signature. Once the order is signed by both parents and the court, the parenting coordination process can begin. (Insert link to draft parenting coordinator agreement)
What are the benefits to parenting coordination?
The parenting coordinator assists the parties in the following areas:
- Reduces reliance upon court intervention and litigation
- Parents develop a parenting plan
- Implementation of a parenting plan
- Provides a basis for monitoring compliance with a parenting plan
- Provides a forum for efficient analysis and resolution of disputes that arise between parents regarding custody and visitation with children
- Helps the parents focus on the children’s needs
- Improve communication between the parents
- Provide a buffer between the child therapist and the parents
What types of issues are handled by the parenting coordinator?
A parenting coordinator’s role is defined by the agreement appointing the parenting coordinator. Thus, parents may choose the scope of the parenting coordinator’s responsibility so long as the agreement to appoint the parenting coordinator does not abrogate the court’s jurisdiction to decide custodial issues. For instance, a parenting coordinator may make orders regarding minor modifications to a parenting plan, but may not make changes to custody orders (i.e. changing custody from one parent to another) or make substantial changes to a parenting schedule such that the change would effectively amount to a change in custody.
What if a parent does not like the parenting coordinator’s decision?
There is a process for challenging the parenting coordinator’s decision whereby the party challenging the parenting coordinator’s decision would file a motion with the court objecting to the decision. This process is clearly defined in the parenting coordination agreement.
What if I feel the parenting coordinator is not doing her job properly?
Generally, a parenting coordinator has quasi-judicial immunity. However, if a parent has a complaint about the parenting coordinator’s handling of the case, there is a dispute resolution process that is detailed in the parenting coordination agreement.
Parenting Coordination Experience and Goals
Rachel has handled child custody matters in her Family Law practice for fifteen years. During this time, coordination and resolution of parenting issues have always played a central role, and the assistance of parenting coordinators was an essential service to her clients who found themselves in high conflict custody cases. Clients consistently express how much they appreciate having a parenting coordinator available to assist them with resolving their day-to-day custody issues. Rachel’s long-standing esteem for the parenting coordination program and her desire to help parents lessen conflict in high conflict custody cases led Rachel to become a parenting coordinator.
In addition to her fifteen years of litigation practice in high conflict custody cases, Rachel completed the Northern California Mediation Center Parenting Coordination (Special Master) Training Program led by Joan B. Kelly, Ph.d. This program expanded Rachel’s ability to solve the problems that custody cases present for parents. By acting as a parenting coordinator, Rachel will help parents:
- Devise and implement a parenting plan, including monitoring compliance with the plan once agreed to or ordered by the court
- Analyze and resolve child-related parenting disputes in a way that best suits the children’s needs
- Reduce parental conflict
- Re-focus the parents on the children’s needs
- Improve parental communication and problem-solving skills
- Recommend educational programs that teach parents about their children’s developmental and psychological needs
- Provide a buffer for child’s therapy
- Reduce reliance upon litigation as a tool to resolve parental conflict
Also, Rachel will strive to ensure that the parties (and counsel where the parties are represented) are aware of the established procedures and protocols by clearly setting forth in writing what is expected during the process. Rachel will also confirm in writing any issues raised by either party and the expected procedure and time frame for resolution of issues put before her. Once a decision or recommendation is made, Rachel will communicate the decision or recommendation to the parents (and counsel) in writing. Rachel has found this method of practice most helpful for her clients who are experiencing high conflict custody matters and need clear and concise written decisions and recommendations.