Kathy Macchione Leggett, LMHC • (863) 207-4402  Kathy@mccmediation.com

Mediation & Counseling Consultants

Creating a better environment for both parents and children.

Parent Coordination

How Are Custody and Visitation Conflicts Solved?

Child custody and visitation are often the main sources of conflict during a divorce. Of course, these conflicts can be resolved by taking the matter to court, but that puts the matter in the hands of the judge. Will the judge provide a resolution that makes sense to either side? Maybe. Maybe not.

In many cases, a more effective solution can be found by turning to a parenting coordinator. This is a neutral third party with expertise in the relationships between parents and children. The parenting coordinator can work with both sides to facilitate a resolution that may be more effective than one a judge can come up with. Furthermore, it is typically more efficient and more cost-effective to go this route.

Parenting Coordination (PC) is a process that helps parents resolve disputes and learn how to protect their children from the harmful effects of chronic exposure to parental conflict. When parents need an objective expert to help them implement the parenting plan already ordered by the court, they often need the assistance of someone who can promote constructive decision-making. When Parent Coordination is ordered by the court, the parties typically will work with the Parenting Coordinator for an undetermined period of time, typically no less than 6 months, in an effort to educate, oversee, and train the parents on how to effectively co-parent their children.

What Does a Parenting Coordinator Do?

A parenting coordinator will start by getting familiar with the situation. This person will take the time to learn about each of the parents and the child. He or she will closely examine the often delicate relationships that exist among the parties involved. After this phase of the process, the parenting coordinator will begin working on a parenting plan involving child custody and child visitation.

The end result can be the development of a positive parenting plan that both sides have agreed upon. Many parents have been happy with the results of using this method to resolve child custody and visitation disputes.

What you need to know about Parenting Coordination (PC)

WHAT is parenting coordination?

Parenting coordination is a process where an impartial third person, designated by a court order of appointment, helps parties implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between parents and/or legal guardians, providing education, making recommendations to the parties, and with prior approval of the parties and the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order of appointment.

The parenting coordinator may assist the parties by: providing education regarding the developmental needs of the children and the effects of parental separation on family members, co-parenting, and parental communication. The parenting coordinator monitors compliance with the established parenting plan and assists the parties in effectively facilitating their time-sharing arrangements. The parenting coordinator will use conciliation skills to assist the parties in resolving child related issues and reducing the potential for future parental conflict.

The process of parenting coordination is generally NOT confidential.

WHY do we need parenting coordination?

Because parenting coordination helps high conflict families resolve their disputes out of the court and reduces the excessive use of litigation...

Because parenting coordination serves as another-alternative dispute resolution method for high conflict cases with child related issues which are not amenable to mediation...

Because parenting coordination helps families survive conflict with a more intact family unit, even if separated, reducing the harmful effects of conflict which jeopardizes the well-being of children.

WHO are parenting coordinators?

A Parenting Coordinator is defined as a licensed mental health provider or legal professional with a minimum number of years of experience in the following disciplines: family systems theory, child development, high-conflict divorce resolution techniques including mediation, children adjustment issues specific to divorce including parental alienation, domestic abuse, and knowledge of the legal facets of divorce.

Parenting Coordinators must have specific training in the parenting coordination process. The number of training hours required varies from State to State, but is generally between 16-40 hours.

What a Parenting Coordinator is NOT: A parenting coordinator is not a custody evaluator, parenting plan evaluator, mediator, therapist, financial advisor, attorney, or guardian ad litem.

WHEN are parenting coordinators used?

A parenting coordinator may be appointed by the court to provide the parents with assistance to effectively implement existing court orders on issues of shared parenting when:

The parties have failed to adequately implement their shared parenting arrangements in relation to their child or children

Mediation has not been successful or has been determined by the court to be inappropriate;

The court finds that appointment of a parenting coordinator is necessary to protect the children from harm caused by the parents' failure to implement their shared parenting plan;

The parties can afford to pay for the parenting coordinator's services or the services of the parenting coordinator can be provided at no expense to the parties.

HOW does Parenting Coordination work?

The parties may meet with a parenting coordinator either together or separately in an effort to identify parenting disputes. The parenting coordinator may meet with the children. The parenting coordinator helps parents prioritize their disputes and helps facilitate resolution of those disputes in an effort to stabilize the family unit and shield their children from the harmful effects of exposure to chronic hostility and conflict.

Is the parenting coordination process for me/for my client?

Parenting coordination is appropriate for high conflict cases dealing with child related issues, such as when:

A. mediation has not been successful or has been determined by the judge to be inappropriate

B. children are denied emotional and/or physical access to a parent or have severely limited contact with their parent

C. there are restrictions on children's access to extended family members

D. there is interference or refusal of access to information about child(ren)'s health, education, and welfare

E. the parents/guardians are unable to agree as to substantive issues concerning the child(ren)

F. there is a high rate of re-litigation especially concerning non-legal issues

Parenting coordination is NOT for cases in which it has been determined that the process may compromise the safety of any party, the minor children, or the parenting coordinator.

What states have Parenting Coordination Statutes?

• Oklahoma
• Idaho
• Oregon
• Colorado
• Texas
• North Carolina
• Louisiana
• Maine
• Vermont
• South Dakota
• Florida (the latest state to pass a parenting coordination statute (F.S. 61.125) effective October 1, 2009)

When working in the capacity of a Parenting Coordinator, I follow the Standards of Practice: Model Standards of Practice for Parent Coordination at, which can be viewed in detail at www.afccnet.org/resources/standards_practice.asp.

 

COSTS AND FEES: 

Parent Coordination is implemented by Attorney Stipulation and Court Appointment.

Fees for Parent Coordination are $200 per hour.  The fees are typically split between the parents.

A $1200 retainer is required - ($600 each party).