Understanding Parent Coordination
The Parenting Coordinator (hereinafter PC) role is generally reserved for high-conflict parents who have a history of unwillingness or inability to co-parent their child or children and to make decisions on behalf of the children through mutuality, effective communication and compromise.
The primary goal of PC work is to protect children from the emotional impact of the parents’ conflicts. A PC will work with the parents to make recommendations regarding their existing parenting plan or to assist in modifying the parenting plan when needed. The PC has the authority to report to the court as to the progress made in the PC process and the parties’ willingness (or lack thereof) to implement the PC’s recommendations in the best interest of the children.
Call the Sussex County lawyers of Ullmann & Mikulka, Attorneys At Law, at 973-786-3401 for a free 30-minute initial consultation.
Standards And Obligations For The Parenting Coordinator
The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) has promulgated guidelines for parenting coordination, setting forth recommendations pertaining to the role and obligations of the PC, qualifications for a PC, and standards for the PC to follow in the PC process:
- A PC shall be qualified by education and training to serve in the PC role.
- A PC must remain impartial and unbiased in her/his role and actions with the parents; however, the PC is not a neutral and will often make recommendations which may appear to be more favorable to one parent by the other parent.
- A PC may not assist the parties if a clear conflict of interest arises.
- The PC may not serve in a dual role. In this regard, the PC may not serve as both PC and therapist for either party or the child, or represent either party in any legal capacity.
- The PC may not serve as a custody evaluator.
- The PC process is not confidential. The PC must be permitted to communicate with relevant collateral contacts, such as extended family members, doctors, teachers, coaches, the attorneys and the court, when necessary.
- The PC shall assist the parties in reducing harmful conflict and shall always promote the best interest of the children.
Resolving Many Types Of Issues And Conflicts
The PC will assist and make recommendations to resolve the following types of issues and conflicts:
- Modifying or clarifying the parties’ parent plan, including the parties’ weekly parenting time schedule, holiday parenting time and vacation schedules;
- Clarify and modify transportation issues for pickup and drop-off of the children;
- Health care management between the parents, including medical care, dental care, orthodontia care, vision care, therapeutic care and other medical and mental health treatments and procedures;
- Child-rearing issues such as discipline, daily routines and nutrition;
- Psychotherapy and other mental health care, including substance abuse assessment, or counseling for the children;
- Psychological assessments and testing for mental health issues and substance abuse issues of the children and/or parents;
- Education of the children and daycare, including school choice, tutoring, summer school, special education testing and programs, and major educational decisions;
- Extracurricular activities of the children, time management of such activities, as well as camps;
- Religious observance and religious education of the children;
- Travel arrangements for the children;
- Clothing, equipment and personal possessions of the children;
- Communication between the parents about the children, including telephone contact, texting, email, faxes, notes and third-party communications;
- Stepparent and significant other relationships and the impact on co-parenting;
- The extent and role of the children’s contact with extended family members, stepparents and significant others;
- Any other issues that cause conflict between the parents.
What Parents Need To Do
When a PC is appointed by the court, or voluntarily chosen by the parties, the parents must be prepared to cooperate in identifying the conflicts and assessing their individual role in the conflict. The PC process can only work, if both parents are committed to changing behaviors that have created conflicts in their co-parenting roles.
The cost of parent coordination will be dictated by the level of conflicts between the parents. The PC process is not covered by insurance.
Faith Ullmann and Dina Mikulka are both Approved Family Mediators, experienced family law attorneys, and have completed training with AFCC as Parenting Coordinators. Dina Mikulka is also frequently appointed by the court as Guardian ad Litem in complex custody disputes. Contact Ullmann & Mikulka, Attorneys At Law for an appointment in New Jersey, to discuss her fees and obtain any other information you may need regarding the Parenting Coordination process. Call 973-786-3401 or contact us by email for a free 30-minute initial consultation.