Parent Coordination is a way to problem solve in a cost-effective manner.
Many parents continue to have disputes during or after the litigation ends. Without swift access to court, parents need a process to resolve the dispute in a quicker and less expensive manner. One way to quickly resolve these disputes is to utilize the services of a Parent Coordinator.
What is Parent Coordination?
Parent Coordination is a dispute-resolution process designed to help parents (1) develop an agreed plan for custody and visitation if no plan is in place and (2) to resolve disputes over existing Court Orders and Parenting Plans.
What is a Parent Coordinator?
A Parent Coordinator is a trained, impartial third-party who works with parents to reach a fair compromise on issues relating to their children. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, the Parent Coordinator can serve as the tiebreaker and issue a written decision as authorized by the parents. The parents agree to be bound by the decision until a Court determines otherwise.
What type of training does a Parent Coordinator have?
To be certified, Parent Coordinators complete 100 hours of training, as set forth in the Maryland Rules. Areas covered in the training include family mediation, how to work with high-conflict families, developmental stages of children, conflict coaching, and parenting skills. Parent Coordinators also participate in annual continuing education.
What is the role of a Parent Coordinator?
The Parent Coordinator should:
Assess each family’s needs and identity the conflicts facing them;
Identify the issues that are impacting co-parenting;
Facilitate structured discussions to resolve conflicts;
Maintain boundaries and decorum during meetings;
Educate the parents on making and implementing decisions that are in the best interests of their children;
Suggest appropriate resources for the parents to assist with decision-making;
Aide the parents in interpreting and implementing their existing Orders and Agreements; and
Document all agreements reached by the parents or decisions reached by the Parent Coordinator.
Is Parent Coordination right for you?
Parent Coordination is designed to resolve disputes between parents who are unwilling or unable to communicate effectively, make joint parenting decisions, comply with existing parenting agreements, or shield their children from parental conflict. If you and your co-parent have engaged in contested litigation, cannot communicate, or spend most of the time arguing, this process may be right for you.
What are the benefits of Parent Coordination?
Parent Coordination saves parents time and money. Rather than paying lawyers to act as the go-between, the parents communicate with each other in a structured manner and attempt to resolve the issue. If the parents cannot resolve the issue, the Parent Coordinator can make the decision on their behalf as authorized.
How is Parent Coordination different from mediation?
Parent Coordination does incorporate mediation techniques to resolve the dispute. However, there are some major differences between Parent Coordination and mediation.
Unlike mediation, Parent Coordination is not a confidential process. A Parent Coordinator can share anything said at the session with the parents, lawyers, and the Court.
Another distinction is that a Parent Coordinator is impartial, while a mediator is neutral. This means that while a Parent Coordinator has no allegiance to either parent, the Parent Coordinator can take a side on a disputed issue and serve as a tiebreaker. In mediation, the mediator does not take a parent’s side on any issue.
What issues can a Parent Coordinator resolve?
The Parent Coordinator may be the tiebreaker if decisions are not agreed upon by the parents after discussion on the following topics:
Adjustments to visitation (dates and times) that do not substantially alter the basic time-sharing arrangement;
Transportation to and from visitation, who goes to whom, location of exchanges, punctuality, consequences for missed visitation;
Scheduling of vacations and holidays;
Scheduling activities for the child(ren), including afterschool activities, extracurricular activities, and camps;
Family rules and routines: bedtime, allowance, diet, clothing, shoes, haircuts, hygiene, discipline, etc.;
Issues relating to education, including tutoring and homework;
Contact with child(ren), i.e. telephone calls, frequency and time;
Participation in parenting time by significant others, relatives, etc.;
Parent communication, e.g. email, phone, exchange logs;
Exchanging clothing and personal possessions of the child(ren); and
Other related custody issues that the parents mutually agree, in writing, to submit to the Parent Coordinator.
As part of the Parent Coordination process, the parents agree to be bound by the decision of the Parent Coordinator unless and until the Court orders otherwise.
What are the limitations of Parent Coordination?
The Parent Coordinator cannot change physical custody or legal custody. If the parents do reach an agreement that alters physical custody or legal custody, then the Parent Coordinator will memorialize the agreement, and send it to the lawyers to incorporate into a Court Order.
Do I need to bring my lawyer to Parent Coordination?
No. Only parents can attend sessions. During Parent Coordination sessions, the Parent Coordinator takes careful notes of the issues being discussed and any resolutions reached. After each session, the notes are typed into a memorandum and shared with the parents and their lawyers. This memorandum serves as the official documentation of the meeting and keeps lawyers apprised of what is happening in our sessions.
How often do the parents meet with the Parent Coordinator?
The parents shall meet as frequently as is deemed appropriate by the Parent Coordinator and the parents (and/or counsel) or as ordered by the Court. For the first three months of Parent Coordination, the parents should plan to meet once per month. A typical meeting is scheduled for 2 hours.
What should parents expect at meetings?
Parents should expect that the Parent Coordinator will be impartial and work hard to solve the problems that your family is facing. Parents should also expect to behave in a respectful manner towards each other and that each parent would have the opportunity to be heard on the issue in dispute.
How should parents prepare for meetings?
Before meeting, each parent must sign a Parent Coordination Agreement and pay the required retainer. It would be helpful to provide copies of any existing Court Orders, Agreements, or Parenting Plans to the Parent Coordinator prior to meeting.
Prior to each meeting, the Parent Coordinator will ask parents to submit an agenda via email, so each parent is aware of the issues that will be discussed and has time to prepare for the session.
How do we start the Parent Coordination process?
Please contact the office at 410-842-1070 or email@example.com to schedule and obtain a copy of the Parent Coordination Agreement.