What is Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordination is a child focused alternative dispute resolution process. Parenting Coordination combines assessment, education, case management, conflict resolution and sometimes, decision making functions.
Parenting coordination is appropriate for high conflict cases dealing with child related issues, such as when there is a high rate of litigation, especially concerning the implementation of a custody order or parenting plan; mediation has not been successful or has been deemed inappropriate; parents need assistance developing, modifying or implementing their parenting plan (Fieldstone, et al, 2012). PCs assist parents by providing (1) education about co-parenting and parental communication; (2) the psycholgical and developmental needs of the children; (3) strategies to manage conflict and reduce the negative effects on children; and (4) effective post-separation parenting. To further assist parents and children, PCs facilitate referrals to community providers when necessary and collaborate with any professionals who may already be involved with the family.
Parenting coordinators are trained mental health or legal professional who assist parents in making decisions about their parenting schedule after the major parenting plan decisions have been made either by agreement or by a judge. Limitations are clear on the services they can and cannot provide in their role as a PC. Parenting coordinators do not provide custody evaluations, counseling diagnostic or assessments, or psychotherapy (Robin Deutsch, 2009). The process is a combined alternative dispute resolution, mental and quasi-legal process that includes assessment, education, case management, conflict management and sometimes decision making functions.
A Parenting coordinator serves an assessment, educational, case management and conflict management functions. serves a decision-making function. The PC educates the parties about child development, divorce research, the impact of their behavior on the children, parenting skills, and communication and conflict resolution skills. The PC may coach the parties about these issues. The PC should work with the professionals and systems involved with the family (Mental health, health care, social services, education, legal) as well, if needed, with extended family, stepparents, and significant others. The PC's primary role is to assist the parties to work out disagreements regarding the children to minimize conflict. The PC may utilize dispute resolution skill from principles and practices of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. To assist the parents in reducing the conflict, the PC may monitor the faxed, emailed or written exchanges of parent communications and suggest more productive forms of communication that limit conflict between the parents. When parents are not able to decide or resolve disputes on their own, the PC shall be empowered to the extent described in the court order, or to make reports or recommendations to the court for further consideration (Debra Carter, 2011).
I have been a parenting coordinator in the 19th Judicial Circuit since 2005. If you have any questions about this program, or you would like to see the judicial order, please follow this link.