What is a Parenting Coordinator?
A parenting coordinator is an individual who is assigned to a couple involved in a custody dispute. The coordinator’s job is to assist the parents in developing co-parenting skills and to help the parents solve disputes between each other as they relate to child custody.
How Does a Parenting Coordinator Step into the Picture?
A parenting coordinator is court appointed and they are also granted certain power and responsibilities by the Court. The Court will appoint a parenting coordinator in high conflict custody cases, where a judge may feel that the child’s best interests are better served. If the parents agree to having a parenting coordinator, they may ask the court for one. On the other hand, a judge may appoint a coordinator even without consent if they feel one should be used.
What is a “High-Conflict” Custody Case?
A high-conflict case is one “where the parties demonstrate an on-going pattern of any of the following:
- Excessive litigation;
- Anger and distrust;
- Verbal abuse;
- Physical aggression or threats of physical aggression;
- Difficulty communicating about or cooperating in the care of the minor children;
- Conditions that in the discretion of the court warrant the appointment of a parenting coordinator.
What Kind of Authority Does a Parenting Coordinator Have?
The Court, in its wide discretion, may grant a parenting coordinator with very specific authority in order to assist the parents with the following issues:
- Identify disputed issues;
- Reduce misunderstandings;
- Clarify priorities;
- Explore possibilities for compromise;
- Develop methods of collaboration in parenting;
- Comply with the court’s order of custody, visitation, or guardianship.
The parenting coordinator does not get to decide ultimate issues, like who gets primary custody.These types of decisions can only be made by the judge. Any findings which the parenting coordinator makes are reported back to the court and they are permitted to make recommendations regarding modification of an existing custodyorder.
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