Co-Parenting is a challenge. No matter how amicable or contemptuous your divorce, co-parenting raises issues that go on for weeks, months, years … sometimes even beyond your children becoming adults. And in high-conflict divorce cases, it is the single, most-often cause of increased litigation. Family courts are over-burdeneded by high-conflict parents, who take advantage of the legal system to resolve their often non-legal child-related disputes. These litigious parents consume a majority of the court’s time, spend thousands of dollars in legal fees, and most importantly, jeopardize their childrens’ mental and physical health and well-being by dragging them through these never-ending courtroom battles.
To address the challenges faced by divorced parents, a new profession has emerged in recent years: Parent Coordinator. A Parent Coordinator works directly with the parties outside of the courtroom. Often, Parent Coordinators work with clients through e-mail, telephone or in-person conferences to resolve disputes relating specifically to co-parenting. The process is defined, as follows:
“[a] child-focused dispute resolution process in which a mental health or family law professional with mediation training and experience assists high-conflict parents 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 Task Force on Parenting Coordination, 2005]
Does this sound familiar to you?
- “You were supposed to drop off the kids at 7:00 P.M., and it’s 7:35 P.M., you’re late – again – see you in Court.”
- ‘Why are you here? – it’s my turn to come to the soccer practice – you’re doing this to annoy me … leave, or I’ll see you in Court.”
- “How dare you leave our 12-year old home alone … with her/him … – we’ll see what the Judge says about this.”
- “I paid for the school pictures, why did you take them out of his backpack – I’m filing a petition.”
How Can A Parenting Coordinator Help Us?
There are two ways to engage:
- A Parenting Coordinator is either appointed by the Court or engaged by your attorneys to assist in the co-parenting issues that arise before, during and after your divorce; or
- A Parenting Coach is available to you at any stage of your divorce proceeding, to assist you and your former spouse in developing, implementing, complying with or modifying your Parenting Plan.
- The Parent Coordinator’s function is not as a therapist.
- Typically, the parties share the cost of the Parent Coordinator.
- Decisions by a Parent Coordinator are appealable to the Court.
Most Family Court judges, lawyers, therapists and families welcome the role of Parent Coordinator, who offers a more cost-effective alternative to dispute resolution than proceeding to the courthouse each time a minor dispute arises. The benefits?
- Quicker results for the parties.
- Reduces stresses on the children.
- Less litigious.