What Is Parenting Coordination?
Author: Calgary Family Lawyer Amanda Marsden
In theory, once you have a parenting order or divorce and separation agreement in place, you and your ex should be able to co-parent without any disputes. However, sometimes in a divorce and separation, the implementation of a parenting plan can be challenging. This is where a Parenting Coordinator can often be of assistance. Parenting Coordination is most helpful for parties who have reached a general parenting agreement, but who have ongoing communication issues that impede their ability to co-parent effectively after separation. Parenting Coordination is often one of the more cost-effective alternative dispute resolution methods for dealing with ongoing parenting concerns.
Parenting Coordination is both about educating the parents on strategies that may help them work together and also about resolving conflicts between the parents. Some of the conflicts that can be resolved with Parenting Coordination include:
- Parenting schedules
- Educational decisions (including choice of schools)
- Participation in extracurricular activities
- Communication between parents
- Holiday schedules
- Pick-up and drop-off of children
- Health-related decisions (including psychological intervention)
The Parenting Coordination process starts when both parents agree to appoint a professional (usually a psychologist or family lawyer) to the role of Parenting Coordinator. This is done either through an order of the family court or a contract. The parties can decide what specific issues the Parenting Coordinator will be able to assist them with, including which issues the Parenting Coordinator will be allowed to render any decisions on. A family lawyer can assist with the drafting of the contact and by giving advice in the background on the process.
Once appointed, the Parenting Coordinator will meet with both parents. Typically, they will give information to the parents about the effects of divorce and separation on children. They may also share information about the psychological impacts of conflict on the family. As a mediator, the parenting coordinator helps the parties to reach their own resolution. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the Parenting Coordinator may make a decision for them if they have been granted powers of arbitration. This decision is legally binding in family court.
If a Parenting Coordinator has to make a decision as an arbitrator because mediation was unsuccessful, the parents may also have the ability to submit evidence to the Parenting Coordinator who will consider this in their decision. A family lawyer may also be able to represent you in the arbitration process depending on the terms of the parenting coordination contract. The specific terms of a parenting coordination contract will be very important in determining how robust the arbitration process can be.
Parenting Coordination can be a helpful alternative when resolving conflict after separation or divorce. The family lawyers at Crossroads Law have extensive experience working with Parenting Coordinators, including involvement in lawyer, assisted arbitrations. Contact us today if you believe you may benefit from Parenting Coordination in your family law case.