Parent coordination is a way of having decisions about your kids being decided when you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement.
It is particularly useful in situations where the parents are in high conflict with one another.
Although it is a relatively new process for family law in British Columbia, it has been used extensively with great results elsewhere.
Because the new BC Family Law Act focuses on parents avoiding the court process, this process has been on the rise. You can contact a parent coordinator by contacting the BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society.
Maybe you already have an agreement that says you are supposed to make parenting decisions by consulting with the other parent. Maybe there is a court order that says you are supposed to consult with the other parent and you have to come up with an agreement.
The problem is that for some people, they can't seem to agree on almost anything with their ex.
Rather than go back to court for every little thing, or just be stuck in a stalemate, parent coordination can be utilized. It is for people when they would rather not go back to court (or would rather not even go to court in the first place).
A professional (such as a lawyer or psychologist after they have had certain training and additional qualifications) can take on the role of being a parent coordinator.
When parents are unable to settle their own parenting disputes, they may hire a parent coordinator who will become something like their own private judge.
First the parents hire the parent coordinator. They sign a contract (most often for up to 2 years in duration) where they agree that they will defer to the decisions they themselves cannot agree upon to the parent coordinator.
While parent coordinators do not usually make decisions regarding the overall parenting plan itself, they can make decisions about countless other potential disputes like the following:
When one parent wants to take the child out of school for a vacation and the other does not agree; where one parent thinks the child should play hockey and the other does not; where one parent thinks the child should be in french immersion and the other does not; where one parent believes the child should go to a private school and the other does not etc.
When parenting disputes arise, either parent may contact the parenting coordinator. The coordinator will listen to each parent’s side of the story and attempt to reach a resolution of the dispute through information gathering and they will also try to get the parents to agree. If a settlement cannot be reached by consensus, the coordinator will make a determination to resolve the dispute which both parents will be bound by.
When the next problem comes up, the parents will go back to their parenting coordinator and the process starts again.
Sometimes parent coordinators also try to assist parents with working on being more effective in their communication with one another.
The parenting coordinator will continue working with the parents until the term of his or her retainer expires.
Parenting coordination offers parents who are in high-conflict with one another an answer to their ongoing conflict. They will have the consistent and ongoing direction of a single, qualified professional that they have both will have likely chosen at the outset.
In accordance with the parent coordination contract, the parents have to agree to be bound by any decisions made by the parenting coordinator (even if they do not like the decision). Using the parent coordination process allows parents to have access to one decision-maker and it allows them a cost-effective and timely way of resolving their disputes by avoiding court.
This article was written by Val Hemminger, lawyer and mediator
Return from parent coordination
Please contact us at Hemminger Law Group for more information about parent coordination.