What is a Parent Coordinator?
A Parent Coordinator is a mental health professional who assists parents throughout the divorce process. The court appoints a Parent Coordinator typically once the divorce is final. Far too often, in the case of divorce, children get caught up in the cross-fire between high-conflict parents. Co-parenting can pose a lot of hostility and disagreements between parents after a separation or divorce. In situations like this, a Parent Coordinator can help the parents in implementing or interpreting how they want to move with their children.
Konicek Law offers representation for a broad spectrum of family law issues including divorce, modification of alimony and child support, determination of paternity, child support enforcement, department of revenue child support cases, domestic violence cases, enforcement and contempt actions, uncontested divorces, and prenuptial agreements.
Role of the Parent Coordinator
The role of a Parent Coordinator is to help reduce conflicts between parents and the overall stress of everyone involved. He or she will take their time to understand and identify the underlying conflict between the parents. They will also meet with each parent separately, and most likely the child as well. This process allows the coordinator to gain valuable insight as he or she helps the parents make the best decision moving forward with their child.
When a conflict arises between the parents regarding their children, the parents can seek help from the Parent Coordinator, who will then work with both the parents to find an agreement. Parent Coordinators also work with the court and the parents to navigate and resolve the conflict by:
- Meeting with the parents, the child/children, and other participants.
- Reviewing psychological, school, and other family records.
- Consulting with relevant witnesses such as psychologists.
- Work with the parents to create timeshare (visitation) schedules and help them maintain compliance with them.
- Mediate visitation or parenting disputes, which can include teaching the parents essential parenting and communication skills.
- Providing the child’s perspective with the parents in a manner that allows the child to freely and safely express their feelings.
- Counsel and educate the children when a child feels hostility towards their parents and does not wish to see them.
The Advantage of Having a Parent Coordinator
Some parents look at Parent Coordinators as people who referee and decide which parent “wins” or “loses” certain disputes regarding their co-parenting situation. Instead, a Parent Coordinator acts more as the mediator, who assists each parent in working through their conflict to come to a peaceful resolution without having to go back to court. A Parent Coordinator reduces the time needed to resolve the dispute (since it can be done privately in court) and can preserve the relationship between the parents and their children.
With a Parent Coordinator, neither parent is a “winner” or “loser.” The job of the Parent Coordinator is to look out for the child’s best interest during a divorce and ensure the parents can come to an agreement that is best for the child’s life. Therefore, the winner is a child with the help of a Parent Coordinator.
Less Time in Court
Parent coordination allows the parents to spend less time in court, thus, resulting in less money the parents need to spend on attorneys and other legal fees. When a judge decides to dispute for a family, their solution may or may not be in the best interest of the family. Unfortunately, if it is a judge’s decision, then the order must be abided to by the family. On the other hand, through parent coordination, parents can create a customized resolution that will be beneficial for everyone involved.
Minimal Family Conflict
Another benefit of having a Parent Coordinator is a minimal conflict over time. As parents continue to meet with their Parent Coordinator, they can learn to communicate with one another, which ultimately minimizes their family problems and strife. As the communication between the parents improves, the stress upon the child will gradually decrease as they see their parents are working as a cohesive unit.
Parent Coordinators also provide a multitude of resources that the courts may not have access to for the parents throughout their custody battle. These include co-parenting classes, books, videos, and other professionals that can help the family during their stressful period.
A Parent Coordinator helps the couple resolve their parenting issues by gaining a real understanding of how to put their children first, above their own, often selfish, desires. In a sense, Parent Coordinators help the parents learn to work through their issues in an acceptable manner that benefits the child. Working as a facilitator between the two parties, which sometimes include the children, helps accomplish:
- Teaching coping skills emotionally and psychologically that stem from a divorce.
- Helping children and parents understand the dynamics of their situation and what kind of outcomes result from their hardship.
- Emphasizing on using the Florida standard in “in the best interest of the child” the Parent Coordinator is creating or implementing their parenting plan.
- Help the children cope with their parenting arrangements, especially, if a child wishes not to spend time with one of their parents.
- Teaching parenting skills such as child development, good communication, awareness and observation of a child’s needs and concerns.
- Provide unbiased reports to the court about the parent and child dynamics to assist the judge in determining what is in the best interest of the child.
How Do You Get a Parenting Coordinator?
In a Florida divorce, a parenting coordinator is appointed by court order. A judge issues an order which requires the parents to agree on the selection of their Parent Coordinator within a specified period. The judge will also state that both parents will be responsible for all the fees associated with enlisting the services of a Florida Parent Coordinator. Once the judge issues the order, the parents will be able to work together to find a qualified Parent Coordinator that they can both agree on. If the spouses are unable to decide on the selection of a Parent Coordinator within a specified period allowed by the court, then the court will have an opportunity to appoint a Parent Coordinator.
The benefits of using a Parent Coordinator can be significant. It allows the child to focus on the big and small decisions for them to keep their life running as smoothly as possible. Also, a Parent Coordinator creates an emotionally healthy environment for the child. Far too often, in high-conflict divorces, the child gets caught up in the conflict.
The goal of parenting coordination is not to have a less expensive, more accessible substitute for a judge. The goal is for the parents to learn co-parenting without intervention from the court or a Parent coordinator. The benefit of a Parent Coordinator is to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.