The Who, What and Why of a Parenting Coordinator

What Is a Parenting Coordinator?

Often, the parents we see in our office are unable to work things out with one another on their own. After all, that is likely part of the reason why they’ve reached out for help. However, sometimes we have clients that are in extremely high-conflict situations with their exes (or soon-to-be exes), and adding children into the mix makes things even more contentious. What is a parent to do in these types of situations? Parenting coordination may help.

What is Parenting Coordination?

The Alaska Court System defines parenting coordination as “a process used when parents continue to disagree about the court-ordered parenting plan.” Typically, a Parenting Coordinator acts as a neutral third-party to help parents come to agreements on a variety of issues, including (but not limited to) communication, parenting, after-school activities, minor and/or temporary schedule changes, and more. Typically, Parenting Coordinators are required to have experience in mental health or the legal field and possess specific education and experience.   

What are the Benefits of a Parenting Coordinator?

A Parenting Coordinator can help both the parents and the children. A Parenting Coordinator helps the parents to settle minor issues (such as whether their child can attend a particular function) while reducing tension, stress, anxiety, and animosity toward the other parent. A good Parenting Coordinator will also help teach the parent about how their conflict impacts their child, so parents will learn to be mindful of their interactions.

A Parenting Coordinator may also benefit the child because the parents reduce their conflict. There is significant research showing that children of high-conflict parents have higher rates of depression, anxiety, anger and hostility, sleep issues, school problems, suicide, emotional and social development delays, and future relationship issues. 

How Do I Know If I’m a Good Fit for a Parenting Coordinator?

Even with separations being so common, no family is the same, and what may work for some people may not work for others. However, a Parenting Coordinator may be a good option for you if you and your ex:

  • Fight often;
  • Disagree about core values, such as finances, education, and discipline;
  • Have a difficult time listening to one another;
  • Can’t seem to make minor decisions together without having court interference, or threatening court interference;

A Parenting Coordinator may also be a good fit if either parent has a history of substance or alcohol abuse or domestic violence; if the child has special needs; or it would otherwise be in the children’s best interests to have one.

How Do I Get a Parenting Coordinator?

A judge may order or suggest the use of a Parenting Coordinator. Or, you or your attorney may ask for one. Generally, Parenting Coordinators are either private or public. Private Parenting Coordinators will require the parents to pay for their services, while a Public (or Court-Appointed) Parenting Coordinator may be ordered if your combined gross income is less than $100,000 per year.

For more information or to get help deciding whether a Parenting Coordinator may be a good fit for you and your family, feel free to speak with one of our attorneys.