What is a Parenting Coordinator?
By: Brusca Law
A parenting coordinator is an individual who has a background in mental health and at least a master’s degree and is licensed by the state of Florida. Typically, a parenting coordinator will have a background in family law, although they do not need to be an attorney, and will have had training in child development. Parenting coordinators deal with high conflict cases, or cases where the parties just cannot communicate effectively to co-parent their child. When the Court sees high conflict cases or a failure to communicate, the Court may appoint a parenting coordinator or require the parties to choose a parenting coordinator and split the cost. The individual parties can also petition the Court for a parenting coordinator and have a hearing on the issue before the appointment.
Parenting coordinators do not determine the final time-sharing schedule of the parties and their children, but they do have a say in the day-to-day arrangements of the child. Typical conflicts might include: pick ups and drop off locations, third party responsibilities, holiday time-sharing issues, differences in parenting styles, and addressing the needs of the child when both or one of the parents is unable to address it adequately.
How do Parenting Coordinators Help?
Because the parenting coordinators are there to largely communicate and make decisions when the parties are unable to agree, the parenting coordinators might also help in the following scenarios:
· Identify the issues that typically argued and meet with all of the parties involved;
· Working through disputes between the parents about parenting-related issues to make a decision on a time-sensitive matter;
· Helping children work through a contentious or adverse relationship with one of the parents or assist the child with getting reunification counseling;
· Providing the parties with coping skills to help deal with the emotional stress of the divorce process;
· Providing the parties with communication tactics to help in communication with the other party and the children;
· Helping parents work through conflict that may arise during the mediation process;
· Suggesting family therapy, individual counseling, or other activities which might improve the lives of the parties or the children;
· Providing a report to the Court that identifies both of the parties’ perspective as well as the perspective of the children so that the court can receive unbiased information; and
· Helping the parents achieve an agreement that addresses the various issues of conflict in a way that appropriately takes care of the best interests of the child.
Parenting Coordinators Are Expensive—Why Should I Hire One?
A divorce is expensive—you have to pay your attorney, the mediator, in some cases even a supervisor for your time-sharing, and possibly even a Guardian Ad Litem if you have one. If you add to this mix a parenting coordinator, you may be strapped and ready to give up. A parenting coordinator, although an added expense in litigation, can have its benefits.
Parenting coordinators can help the parties in the following ways:
· Keeping the couple out of court for common arguments or conflict which may have in the past led to the filing of a motion;
· Helping the parents communicate and understand the other parent better so that the children do not suffer;
· Identify bullying by one of the parents, and changing the way the parties speak to each other;
· Acting on the conflict quickly and directly, with the result being a quick resolution to larger potential problem;
· Listening to the parents when they feel the Court and no one else cares about what they have to say; and
· Making suggestions that a Court cannot make, which are practical and truly do make a difference.
How Do I Get a Parenting Coordinator in My Case?
A parenting coordinator is appointed by the Court or agreed to by the parties and later ratified by the Judge. The Order appointing the parenting coordinator will also specify the allocation of the coordinator’s fee, and the coordinators typically charge an upfront retainer and then bill against that retainer with their hourly rate. If the parties are unable to decide on which parenting coordinator to hire, the Court can intervene and appoint one for them. The initial retainers range from anywhere between $500 and $5000, and the hourly rates vary as well. To see a list of qualified parenting coordinators and their rates, click here for more information.
Brusca Law Can Help
Navigating parenting coordinators can be complicated and can be exhausting. Contact Brusca Law to better understand your role when a parenting coordinator gets involved in your case. If you have any questions regarding the appointment of a parenting coordinator, contact attorney Lauren Roderick Brusca at Brusca Law for further information. Initial consultations are free at Brusca Law, and you may contact us at 407-501-6564 to schedule your free consultation.