Parenting coordination is a very specialized dispute resolution process that helps parents reach a settlement of their disputes without going to court. Parenting coordination is intended to address the needs of a very narrow group of parents: parents who are in high conflict with each other, have a history of conflict about parenting decisions, and already have in place a final court order, a series of orders or a written agreement setting out a permanent plan for co-parenting their children, including arrangements for guardianship, parenting time and parenting responsibilities. Parenting coordination is not designed to create these final parenting arrangements but rather, it is meant to help interpret, implement, fine tune and work with those arrangements once they are in place.
In high-conflict separations or divorces, many issues can come up causing parents to have to continue going back to court for resolution, these conflicts can stem from conflicts of personality, parenting styles, expectations, or old grievances which are impacting one or both of the parents’ ability to come to an agreement. Rather than returning to the courts, each and every time an issue arises, which is usually quite costly, time consuming and harmful for the children, parents can retain a Parenting Coordinator (PC) for a specified term to assist.
Arlene views her role as PC to be fourfold:
- To educate and coach parents on parenting skills and strategies,
- To educate and coach parents on better communication skills as between themselves and with their children,
- To use her mediation skills to assist parents in resolving conflict by way of consensus, and
- If parents are unable to resolve an issue, then to use her arbitration skills to settle the unresolved matter by making a determination order which is binding on the parents and enforceable by the courts.
In the PC process, Arlene will enter into a PC Agreement with the parents typically for a two-year period. The Agreement outlines the role, objectives, and scope of the parent coordinator’s services, as well as the rights and obligations of each parent.
As PC, Arlene will serve as a neutral party, acting in the best interests of the children, rather than that of either parent. She assists parents in the interpretation and implementation of their existing parenting plan or any type of contract in regards to the care of children — She helps parents work through their plan, not to change it. Arlene works with parents to identify potential issues and help resolve matters which arise while keeping the children’s best interest constantly in the forefront of her mind; to help them learn to work together and build more effective lines of communication. In situations when parents cannot agree, Arlene is there to make legally binding determinations that work within the parameters of the current parenting plan and are in the child’s best interest.
High-conflict separations or divorces are hard enough, however, by using experienced parent coordinators like Arlene, parents are able to come to more amicable decisions in a more timely matter that cost them considerably less than repeatedly reverting to the court system.