When co-parents are able to effectively cooperate in managing their parenting responsibilities and schedules, the need for a parenting coordinator (PC) is usually unnecessary. However, for separated or divorced parents facing difficulties in working together and adhering to parenting agreements, a PC can play a crucial role in reducing conflict and preventing multiple court appearances.
What is a Parent Coordinator?
So, what exactly is a Parent Coordinator? A PC is a neutral professional who assists high-conflict parents in resolving disputes related to parenting time scheduling and other child-related issues. Their primary objective is to help parents implement the details of their parenting plan while ensuring the well-being of the children involved.
Parent Coordinators typically possess a background in law, particularly in divorce and family law, and often have mediation training. Some may also have a background in mental health. They serve as a bridge between parents, facilitating effective communication and problem-solving.
How Does it Work?
The Parenting Coordination Process, as outlined by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), is a form of alternative dispute resolution that prioritizes the best interests of the child. It combines various elements, including assessment, education, case management, conflict resolution, and, in some cases, decision-making functions.
Parents with a history of intense conflict, characterized by an ongoing inability or unwillingness to cooperate, can benefit from the involvement of a PC. However, it’s important to note that most parents are able to manage their parenting responsibilities without requiring this level of assistance.
What Powers does a Parenting Coordinator Have?
A PC possesses certain powers and responsibilities within the coordination process. These can include acting as a communications facilitator, educator, mediator, decision-maker (arbitrator), and case monitor. In Massachusetts, a PC’s work should always align with the best interests of the children involved. If parents are unable to reach an agreement, the PC will assist them in finding a resolution, and in some cases, make a binding decision on their behalf. It’s worth mentioning that either parent has the right to appeal such a decision to the Court.
PCs engage with parents through various means, such as joint or individual meetings, telephone conversations, or email exchanges. They may also consult with other individuals involved in the child’s life, such as school officials or therapists. To ensure clear communication, it is common practice for PCs to provide written summaries or minutes of discussions, often through email, especially when time-sensitive issues like scheduling conflicts arise.
Regarding the cost of Parenting Coordinators, they typically charge an hourly rate similar to that of a family law attorney. Rates may vary depending on the PC’s experience and geographical region. In many cases, parents split the cost of the PC equally, although adjustments may be made if there is a significant disparity in their incomes. Despite the financial commitment, engaging a PC is often more cost-effective than hiring two attorneys and going to court, particularly when frequent conflicts arise.
I Live in Massachusetts and I Think a Parenting Coordinator can Help. What Should I do Next?
If you believe that engaging a Massachusetts Parenting Coordinator could be beneficial for your situation, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Wright Family Law Group. You can reach them at (978) 851-2291. Wright Family Law Group serves clients throughout Massachusetts from their offices in Tewksbury and Danvers.