Couples need to deal with many things after a divorce. If they have children, they must navigate the complexities of co-parenting. When parents can’t find common ground after going their separate ways, they may need to work with parenting coordinators.
Based on the 2019 report from the Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth (CHSCY), 18 percent of children 17 and below experience a family breakdown during childhood. Of these children, 19 percent have no contact with their other parents. Aside from practical issues, a strained relationship with parents may have a negative impact on their mental and emotional health.
Divorce can take a toll on the entire family. Children may feel less close to their other parent and resent their custodial parent. That’s why Canada’s Divorce Act has provisions encouraging parents to utilize family dispute resolution processes. Under the provision, parents have the duty to provide children with the best possible environment for their well-being.
Take note that family dispute resolution processes may not apply to those dealing with family violence issues.
Parenting coordinators are professionals trained to help parents develop plans and strategies to make co-parenting smoother and more successful. They also ensure the implementation of the separation agreement provisions. Their primary purpose is not to make things easier for the former couples but to make the separation more bearable for the children.
This article will discuss parenting coordinators’ roles and how they can help the family. It will also cover finding the right one and tips to derive the most benefit from the parenting coordination process.
As a parent, you know the most critical issue in separation and divorce is to keep your children safe and happy. For most parents, this means being able to make decisions about their children’s lives. That’s where parenting coordinators come in.
They are neutral third parties who help parents implement parenting plans and communicate with one another about their children. The scope of their work can last from six to 24 months, depending on the extent of the dispute.
Judges can appoint parenting coordinators, or former partners can choose them. They are typically family law lawyers, mental health professionals, arbitrators, or mediators who have experience working with families going through a divorce.
Here are some of the roles of parenting coordinators.
Parents often grapple with resolving differences in raising their children. Disagreements can be about the children’s schedule or activities, discipline, or other issues related to parenting.
Sometimes these disagreements become so severe that it becomes difficult for one parent to talk with the other. It can be because of feelings of hurt or anger toward their partner.
In some cases, parents may even stop talking altogether. They choose not to communicate with each other because they feel there is no point in continuing discussions. Often, conversations end in arguments.
Parenting coordinators help resolve disputes between parents by listening to the parents while sorting out differences. They use various techniques, such as asking open-ended questions, creating rapport through conversation, and being non-judgmental toward both parties’ opinions. They also mediate by offering advice based on their experience with other families. These strategies help families lead toward compromise rather than resentment.
Parents and child welfare professionals often disagree about what is in the child’s best interests. Parenting coordinators do not take sides, but they can help resolve disagreements between parents. Their primary focus would be the health and safety of the children.
Parenting coordinators are responsible for doing whatever it takes to protect the children from harm. This may include guiding parents to decide about children’s education, healthcare needs, and other matters directly or indirectly affecting them.
They will observe the family to determine what improvements can make co-parenting easier.
One of the roles of parenting coordinators is to encourage parents to communicate with one another. Parents often feel isolated and alone in their parenting decisions after a divorce. The more communication between parents, the better equipped they will be to make intelligent choices for their children.
Another critical role of parenting coordinators is facilitating communication between parents regarding parenting plans. It’s common for parents to have different parenting styles. One may choose to impose what they believe is right despite the other parent’s objections.
Often, these differences can lead to further disagreements and a confused child. With a child-focused parent coordinator acting as a mediator, there’s an objective person who can advise parents.
A parent coordinator can also help you work out a parenting plan. They mediate communications with the other parent about anything in your child’s life. For example, suppose a parent has concerns about her child’s behaviour and wants to discuss them with the other parent. However, they may be unable to get in touch directly due to time constraints or work obligations.
A parenting coordinator can coordinate communication between parents so they can talk directly while respecting each other’s needs and interests.
A separation agreement is a contract that spouses must honour and often deals with issues regarding their children. Parents must have the child’s best interests in mind when making parenting agreements. In cases where parents require arbitration to resolve disputes, the separation agreement will include the arbitrator’s decisions on legal issues.
A parenting coordinator ensures that parents follow each of the clauses of the arbitration award. It includes ensuring both parties follow parenting schedules, day-to-day affairs, extracurricular activities, and pick-up times.
Parenting coordinators help parents understand their rights and responsibilities based on the law by providing education about parenting plans. They’re also responsible for ensuring that both parties comply with the terms set out in parenting plans. They will enforce orders when needed, like preventing one parent from violating a parenting order over a child’s medical care.
They also offer support services such as mediation or counselling so that both parties feel comfortable discussing complex issues at home.
Parenting coordinators can provide parents with direction and support in their parenting roles. They can help parents find ways to communicate effectively with their children and offer them tools for problem-solving and decision-making.
A parenting coordinator will help you feel confident that your child’s needs are being met, which can be an essential source of stability during challenging times. The parenting coordinator’s role is not to judge or decide for either parent. Instead, it’s to guide the family toward a solution that works for everyone involved.
Parenting coordinators are essential in ensuring children have a safe and happy childhood. They work closely with parents to help them implement parenting plans, maintain communication with one another, and resolve minor disputes. In short, they are strong advocates of the children.
Parenting coordinators resolve conflicts between parents post-separation. They are not guardians who will replace the role of parents in their children’s lives. It’s best to refrain from bringing parent coordinators when visiting a child to ensure clarity.
Working with parenting coordinators is not only advantageous for the parents but for the children as well. They can be of great help to ensure that parents agree on how to best care for their children. Here are some advantages of hiring a parenting coordinator.
Parenting coordinators help reduce stress for parents, children, and extended family members. They act as a mediator between the court and parties involved in child custody disputes.
The presence of parenting coordinators lessens the need for court appearances by both parties. It allows them to focus on more important matters, including ensuring their children have a promising future despite separation.
It can be stressful to go to court. With a parenting coordinator resolving the conflict and implementing the court order, it’s easier for all parties to heal and move on. By providing parents with support and guidance, parenting coordinators reduce the stress and anxiety associated with co-parenting. They can help parents focus on what’s best for their children.
Parenting coordinators facilitate communication, helping parents save time by lessening the back and forth during a negotiation or dispute resolution. Parents who work with parenting coordinators can spend less time on day-to-day parenting decisions.
Parenting coordinators can help parents agree on minor but important issues, such as planning and implementing children’s activities. It can be challenging if parents have different work hours or family members live in other cities or countries.
Parenting coordinators help parents align schedules. For example, they can determine who will pick up the child from school or who should attend extracurricular activities.
By working with a parenting coordinator, parents can create a plan tailored to their children’s needs and ensure their children’s well-being. Also, parenting coordinators keep parents on track with their parenting plans. This helps reduce conflict and helps create a more favourable environment for the children.
A parenting coordinator can help parents find common ground on issues like discipline or healthcare. They don’t have to deal with conflict when making important decisions for their child’s welfare. They also help parents see the big picture so they can make informed choices that benefit everyone in the family.
In some families, domestic violence can be the leading cause of the breakdown of the family. In such cases, it can be tricky for parents to meet, discuss, and arrive at a decision for the children’s welfare. It may be necessary for high-conflict families to seek professional assistance from a mental health professional. For example, families subjected to family violence or drug abuse may require expert intervention.
Part of the parenting coordinator’s role is to assess the parties before they provide their services. During this process, they will check if there’s a power imbalance or identify the existence of domestic violence.
Parenting coordinators can help you streamline your existing parenting plan. They work to build consensus when conflicts arise and make sure that the needs of the child are met. Sometimes it means working on a compromise with parents on specific issues.
This is especially important because parents often have different ideas about what’s best for their children. It could be deciding what their children should do at school or how often parents can take them out of school. Parenting coordinators can observe and identify the family dynamics and raise relevant issues during parenting meetings.
Parents can ask for a binding decision if a parenting coordinator cannot implement the existing parenting plan. In this case, the parenting coordinator will collate details from the parents and other stakeholders to arrive at a conclusion. With an outsider’s view on family interactions, they can raise and address discussion points objectively.
Parents who choose to use a parenting coordinator can expect to have fewer legal issues during and after the divorce proceedings. Parenting coordinators reduce the need for legal representation because parents can settle disputes out of court. This is especially beneficial for those unable to afford legal counsel and end up representing themselves in custody proceedings.
In addition, out-of-court settlements allow parents to have control over the decisions. Compare that with litigation, where the court has the final decision, which won’t always favour the parents.
While parenting coordinators can enforce court orders, they cannot decide on legal matters other than minor and temporary fixes.
Disclaimer: Parenting coordinators cannot change the court order. Their opinions do not constitute legal advice.
The main goal of a parenting coordinator is to help parents agree on how to best care for their children. They can help parents create a parenting plan tailored to their children’s needs. They can also help parents learn how to communicate and cooperate effectively. This can help create a more favourable environment for the children and helps reduce conflict between the parents.
As a parent, you have many responsibilities, which include ensuring your children are safe and healthy. You also have to think about their education and future. These things can get complicated when you involve someone in the decision-making process.
Going through a parent coordination process can simplify this. Here’s what you can do to make this process more bearable.
When you look for a parenting coordinator, ask them about their education and experience. Before signing the parenting coordinator agreement, ask the following questions:
Parenting coordinators must have a decade of experience dealing with family matters. They should also have specialized training in mediation, family violence, and decision-making.
Ask for references from previous clients or family members who can comment on the quality of their services. Schedule an interview with each potential person before making your choice.
Check out their website and client reviews. Look up professional associations where this person belongs. This will give you an idea of their reputation and experience.
Explore provincial accreditation bodies. For example, the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO) maintains a directory of parenting coordinators that meet minimum qualifications. Albertans can refer to the Alberta Family Mediation Society, which likewise maintains a list of parenting coordinators meeting the FLA’s minimum requirements.
This is a big one because it’s the first step in any successful parenting coordination process. If you are open and transparent with your family coordinator, they will have a chance to find out the kind of help you need. They will need to find out how their assistance can be most effective.
You should also be open to questions from the other party, who may need to learn more about your situation. It’s vital that everyone feels comfortable asking questions so there are no misunderstandings. Transparency prevents tensions from arising between parties.
Parents should remember parenting coordinators are neutral third parties whose primary concern is the children’s welfare. They shouldn’t bribe or use techniques to sway parenting coordinators in their favour. Parenting coordinators are there to benefit the children, and parents should refrain from manipulating them to their advantage.
Meetings with parenting coordinators should always be child-focused. The children are the priority in any family, and you must ensure they are well-cared for and happy. It is never okay for parents to use their time together as an opportunity to pick fights with former partners and discuss unresolved issues.
Ensure your parenting coordination process’s success by staying in tune with the needs and desires of your children. If you’re unsure, ask them. They can give you excellent feedback about how they feel about the family situation.
The key here is for parents to be open-minded and willing to listen. This will help set up an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up when necessary.
Parenting coordination can significantly impact the lives of parents and their children. It’s also critical to know that there are many types of parent coordinators available. If you decide that parenting coordination and family mediation is something you want to pursue, don’t hesitate to get in touch with experienced family law lawyers.
Nussbaum Family Law specializes in resolving conflicts in separation and divorce, including parenting arrangements! We are here to hear about your needs so we can help fix your issues.
Parenting coordinators often charge per hour for their time working with the family. The longer they spend with the family, the higher the cost. However, it is a more cost-effective option than going to court.
When meeting with a parenting coordinator, it’s best to set an agenda of what you should discuss. Prepare a list of questions or points you want to raise. Never use the meetings to argue with the other party. It will only consume more time. Again, you can make the meetings more efficient by focusing on your child’s needs.
Canada does not offer government funding to subsidize parenting coordinator fees. Parents or guardians are responsible for paying them. Make sure you and your former partner discuss how to split the cost.
While parenting coordinators have many responsibilities, there are various things they cannot do or are beyond their control. Here are some of them:
The court allows parents to settle family disputes outside of court. The two most common methods would be parenting coordination or mediation. Sometimes, it may be challenging to discern what the family needs.
Both parenting coordinators and mediators are third-party representatives that help parents decide on essential matters post-divorce or separation. Mediators aren’t necessarily lawyers. However, they should be well-versed in family law since they will be instrumental in helping former couples settle their family issues.
While mediators can step in for any family matter, parenting coordinators focus primarily on the child in their approach. They will help parents make better decisions for their children. The parenting coordinator will ensure the children’s best interests remain central to the parenting plan.