Could Parenting Coordination be an Ingredient?
By Anne Purcell PhD, Principal
Need a recipe to make lemonade when you, or someone you know, may have been served a life of lemons?
Following a parenting plan during and after a divorce or separation can be difficult for some. A parenting agreement has been developed or has been settled. Now what? Have the conflicts with the other parent regarding the children suddenly stopped just because there is an agreement? How about communication; does signing an agreement suddenly make it so that the parents magically start to effectively communicate? Likely not. Many parents have no real idea what shared parenting is much less how to incorporate it in their day-to-day lives. Quite often it is rarely the big, life-altering issues that cause the greatest amount of disputes between parents. Here are some tips to develop resilience and work towards resolving minor disputes involving your children.
Can a parenting coordinator help?
A parenting coordinator may be able to help with day-to-day co-parenting issues as well as ultimately how to make decisions together and reduce daily conflict over ordinary decisions. This assists parents to establish and maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship by reducing parental conflict and the risk factors that influence a child’s post-divorce adjustment. Parenting coordinators can reduce and often eliminate much of the lawyer involvement that often occurs with the ongoing parental conflict, saving time and money.
How is parenting coordination different from mediation?
A mediator’s work is often completed in a closed, confidential way. They cannot provide detailed education and recommendations to the parties. Their job often ends when the agreement is signed or the parties fail to agree. The parenting coordinator role is different. They have been specifically trained to work with a family before, during and after they have reached their final court orders. A parenting coordinator helps to assess the parenting issues, educate the parties about the impact of separation on their children, manages and monitors the parenting plan and ongoing potential conflict, and provides recommendations when parents cannot agree. They may need to speak to a variety of professionals the family has been involved with in order to design ongoing interventions or make further professional referrals.
How does it work?
Parents voluntarily engage with, or can be ordered to work with a parenting coordinator for a given period – usually several months, or up to a year or two. Parenting coordinators work with the parents as and when the issues arise. This may be ad hoc and outside of normal appointment times. The benefit to the family is that the issues are addressed immediately they occur.
Additionally, there are regular sessions with the parenting coordinator. Through education, ongoing dispute resolution and case management, the family’s progress, post-separation, is monitored to assist the parents to ensure the best possible outcomes for their children, offering them the opportunity to grow in home environments free from the devastating stress of being caught in the middle of parental conflict.