Parenting coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process. It is a process that offers hopes to parents and child who are adversely impacted by high conflict in their relationships (Carter, 2011). As defined by the Association of Family and conciliation 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 conflict 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.
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” (p.2).
Parents meet with a parenting coordinator for help with following the parts of their court order, family arbitration award, or separation agreement that are about parenting.
Parenting coordination is voluntary. This means that parents need to agree to the process. Parents cannot be forced to use it. A parenting coordinator is a person who helps parents resolve day-to-day conflicts about their parenting arrangements or parenting orders. For example, if your court order says that your children have to spend an equal amount of time with each parent over the summer, a parenting coordinator can help you figure out a summer schedule.
A parenting coordinator doesn’t decide major things like custody or access. But they can decide issues like:
- small changes to a parenting access plan such as vacations and holidays
- scheduling activities and arranging for pick up and drop off to activities like ballet, hockey, or tutoring
- children’s travel and passport arrangements
- how your children’s clothing and school items are moved between your and your partner’s homes
A parenting coordinator helps you speak with each other to try and agree on your parenting issues. If you can’t agree, the parenting coordinator can decide for you. Their decision is based on information they get from the parents, professionals such as doctors, teachers, counselors, etc., and, if needed, your child.
Parenting coordinators are trained to:
- understand the needs of children
- help each parent discuss their parenting issues
- help parents to manage and keep children out of conflicts
Carter, D. K. (2011). Parenting coordination: A practical guide for family law professionals. Springer
AFCC Task Force on Parenting Coordination. (2005). Guidelines for parenting coordination. Family Court
Review, 44, 162-181.