Parent Coordination is a dispute-resolution process for parents who need assistance making decisions for their children.
Rather than call an attorney or go through the often lengthy and expensive trial process, parents who continue to have disputes can hire a certified Parent Coordinator (“PC”) to resolve important issues promptly and in a cost-effective manner.
While each PC handles his or her process differently, here is a general idea of what to expect with the Parent Coordination process:
1. Hire a Court-Certified Parent Coordinator
First, you will select a certified PC to handle your Parent Coordination meetings. In the state of Maryland, Parent Coordinators must complete 100 hours of specific training. The training teaches PCs how to work with high-conflict families, the developmental stages of children, conflict resolution, and useful parenting skills. Parent Coordinators also participate in annual continuing education to maintain certification.
2. Sign the Parent Coordination Agreement
Before your first meeting, both parents must sign a Parent Coordination Agreement and pay the required retainer. The Parent Coordination Agreement contains important information regarding the PC process and decision-making. If any Court Orders, Agreements, or Parenting Plans exist, those should be sent to the PC as well.
3. Schedule the Parent Coordination Meeting
Next, you and your PC will schedule the first Parent Coordination meeting. Both parents must agree on a time to meet with the PC. Some PCs, like Laurie Wasserman, can meet virtually via video conference call if preferred.
The frequency of meetings will depend on your circumstances, or what the Court has ordered. In most cases, you can expect to meet with your PC once a month for 2 hours. As time goes on, you and your co-parent can meet virtually via video conference call if preferred. ewer meetings will be necessary.
4. Prepare for the Meeting
Before each session, the PC will ask the parents for an agenda so both of you are aware of what issues each parent wants to discuss. Issues can include, but are not limited to:
Adjusting visitation dates and times, as long as they do not significantly alter Court-ordered agreements
Transportation to and from visitation
Scheduling vacations and holidays
Schedule activities for the children
Family rules (e.g. discipline, bedtime, allowance, diet, hygiene)
Frequency of contact with children
5. Attend the Meeting
During your meeting, your PC will guide you through the agenda that was submitted before the session. Your PC will help you and the other parent discuss each issue and try to reach a solution. If you and your co-parent cannot reach a shared decision, your PC may act as the tiebreaker and make a decision that is in the best interest of the children. The PC’s authority is dictated by the Parent Coordination Agreement, Court Order, or agreement of the parents.
6. After the Meeting
After the PC meeting, the PC will send you and your lawyers a summary of the issues discussed, and the resolutions reached. This summary will serve as an official record of the meeting and could be used by you and your lawyers for purposes of settlement or Court.
7. In-between Parent Coordination Meetings
Parents are bound to the decisions made during Parent Coordination sessions unless the Court orders otherwise. So, in between sessions, you should implement the resolutions as discussed. As conflicts arise, make a note of them to add to the next meeting agenda.
The goal of Parent Coordination is to give parents the tools to make important decisions for their children without the aid of the PC. Until that time, the PC will continue to work with the parents to work through various disputes.
Are you ready to start the Parent Coordination process? Please contact Laurie Wasserman at 410-842-1070 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Opinions and conclusions in these blog posts are solely those of the author unless otherwise indicated. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and is not offered and cannot be considered as legal advice for any particular situation. For legal advice, you should directly consult a lawyer to discuss the specific facts of your matter.
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