What Is Parenting Coordination?

Parenting Coordination is an alternate dispute resolution process whereby an impartial third person—the parental coordinator—helps the parties implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between parents and/or legal guardians, providing education, making recommendations, and, with the prior approval of the parties and court, making decisions within the scope of the court order of appointment.

How Does Parenting Coordination Work?

Parenting Coordination reinforces a low-conflict parallel parenting model by increasing the structure and details of parenting plans and becoming the link between parents. This effectively disengages the parents from each other, allowing them to parent independently and use the parental coordinator for any remaining co-parenting issues.

Typically, the parental coordinator meets with both parties regularly, receives day-to-day questions and complaints about any aspect of a party’s conduct, and makes recommendations to the parties. These recommendations then become obligatory for parents to follow as the parental coordinator is granted judicial authority to make legally binding decisions. The wide range of issues the parental coordinator can help with include the children’s daily routine/schedule, education, visitation rights with family members, religion, extra-curricular activities, medical care, child care, travel, holidays, diet, and discipline.

It is important to note that Parenting Coordination is a flexible process. It is tailored to the particular issues of each case and the needs of the children and parents. For instance, parents do not have to be in the same area or city—issues can be addressed in meetings, phone conferences, or through email.

Why Is Parenting Coordination Important?

Intensive case management of high-conflict child custody cases recognizes the many advantages of this alternative dispute resolution.

First and foremost, parental coordination benefits the children. While the intention to stand up for what one thinks is best for his or her children may be well-meaning, the result of co-parenting conflict can be damaging for all involved. When children are under stress from observing co-parenting conflict, they can withdraw, suffer mood swings, demand more attention, become fearful, lose interest in activities, have difficulty with schoolwork, become defiant or destructive, experience nightmares, and/or experience physical symptoms. By limiting the parents’ engagement with one another and managing any conflict, parenting coordination minimizes such adverse effects on children. Moreover, parenting coordination also keep parents in high conflict situations from continually reaching the courts, thereby substantially reducing litigation costs.