A parenting coordinator works with couples to help them make agreements about various children’s issues. Typically, parents in the midst of divorce or paternity proceeding rarely agree on even what day it is. They are angry, upset, and hurt and often present drastically different versions of what happened to the relationship or marriage and what must happen following the divorce or break up. During what is one of the most stressful and difficult periods of their lives, they must work together to co-parent and make decisions with their children’s best interests at heart. Even parents with strong parenting skills and the best intentions, find it difficult, if not impossible, to co-parent in these situations.
As a result, parent coordinating was developed. Florida Statute §61.125 deals with Parenting Coordination.
According to Fla. Stat §61.125, “the purpose of parenting coordination is to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process whereby a parenting coordinator assists the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between the parents by providing education, making recommendations, and, with the prior approval of the parents and the court, making limited decisions within the scope of the court’s order of referral.”
All parenting coordination matters are referred by the Court, meaning the parties either agreed, or one of the parties filed a motion, or the Court on its own determined that the parties needed parenting coordination. The Court appoints a parenting coordinator from the Judicial Circuit’s list of Qualified Parenting Coordinator’s for that Circuit.
The involvement of a parent coordinator is usually consists of: meeting with the parents and possibly the children to determine the issues needing attention; reviewing psychological, school, or other relevant documentation; consulting with third parties, such as psychologists, teachers, neighbors; devising appropriate timesharing schedules with the input of the parents (and children, if appropriate); resolving parenting or timesharing disputes; educating the parents as to communication skills, child development and other possible issues encountered by the children in the divorce or paternity; making recommendations to the court regarding timesharing schedules; educating the parents as to parental alienation; and possibly educating children who refuse to visit parents; and addressing any other parent/child issue that might arise in a particular case.
A parenting coordinator will also aid the parents, and if appropriate, involve the children, in creating a parenting plan most effective for that particular family’s needs. In doing so, the parenting coordinator and parents create a plan that minimizes the children’s exposure to parental conflict while balancing the children’s developmental needs with reasonable parental time-sharing.
The biggest difference a parenting coordinator makes is enabling communication between the parents and provides the tools the parents need in order to resolve any conflict on their own. For many parents, these goals seem unlikely at the inception of the divorce or paternity proceeding. Many parents are not able to achieve positive co-parenting without the assistance of a third-party parenting coordinator. Parenting coordinators have proven to be invaluable in providing ongoing education, support, and maintenance of the co-parenting relationship by providing the base structure and guidance that makes a huge change, and calming relationship, for many families.