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Parent Coordination

From Dr. Jochem

While psychotherapy and diagnostic assessment are core areas of my practice, I have also developed a subspecialty focus upon alternative dispute resolution. This includes issues related to post-decree parenting disputes experienced by divorced parents.

Of course, there is always concern for children in the aftermath of divorce. One of the key research findings regarding the impact of divorce upon children is that post-divorce adjustment is often determined by the degree of post-decree conflict between parents. One of the most effective interventions to help children of divorced parents is to work towards reduced conflict between parents.

My concern for children post-divorce has led me to develop three distinct services, which differ based upon the needs and circumstances of the family. Services designed to assist children and families experiencing divorce include the following:

  • Co-parenting consultation—this is mediation tailored to the needs of post-decree parents
  • Parent coordination—this is a court-ordered intervention where the provider utilizes mediation skills, but also may intervene with parents in a more directive and assertive manner than typically occurs in mediation to reduce parent conflict and facilitate consistency in parenting styles
  • Collaborative divorce child specialist services—this is consultation provided to couples who are utilizing the collaborative model for their divorce, where the child specialist assists in assessing the child and developing a parenting plan.

The following material describes my approach to parent coordination, which is a court-ordered intervention to assist divorced parents in achieving improved cooperation and coordination in co-parenting.

Parent coordination is distinct from mediation and is also not psychotherapy. In my practice as a parent coordinator (PC), amd informed by the Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, as developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (2019). The following information about parenting coordination is excerpted from the AFCC Guidelines.

Parenting coordination is a hybrid legal-mental health role that combines assessment, education, case management, conflict management, dispute resolution, and, at times, decision-making functions.

Parenting coordination is a child-focused process conducted by a licensed mental health or family law professional, or a certified, qualified or regulated family mediator under the rules or laws of their jurisdiction, with practical professional experience with high conflict family cases.

The parenting coordinator ("PC") assists coparents engaged in high conflict coparenting to implement their parenting plan by: (1) facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner; (2) educating coparents about children's needs; and, (3) with prior approval of coparents or the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order or appointment contract.

A PC seeks to protect and sustain safe, healthy, and meaningful parent-child relationships. Parenting coordination is for coparents who are unable or unwilling to jointly make parenting decisions, communicate effectively, comply with parenting agreements and orders or shield their children from the impact of parental conflict.

A PC makes recommendations and, if authorized, legally binding decisions for coparents and may report to the court; therefore, a PC should be appointed by and accountable to the court. Both coparents may agree to participate in the parenting coordination process, and in some jurisdictions this agreement may be implemented without a court order. However, a court order is prudent in these cases. The authority inherent in the role of
a PC is substantial whether stipulated by coparents or ordered by the court. Therefore, it is important that any jurisdiction implementing parenting coordination adopt and adhere to a set of guidelines for parenting coordination practice and programs.
(From: Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, AFCC, 2019).

Feel free to contact me with any further questions about parent coordination services –contact information is shown on the Contact page on this website.