Parenting Plan Enforcement: Parenting Coordinators, Part 1
March 23, 2015
When minor children are involved in a divorce, some of the most important issues in the divorce are custody and time-sharing. Coming to agreement on these issues can be contentious and can involve significant disagreement. However, the disputes are eventually resolved, whether by the parents’ agreement or by the court’s decision, and set out in a court order called a parenting plan. Unfortunately, even though court orders are binding upon the parties, parents do not always obey, and the parents may not cooperate in carrying out the parenting plan. In Florida, there is a program called parenting coordination, which is designed to resolve disputes that occur after the divorce and the finalization of the parenting plan.
Purposes of Parenting Coordination
Parenting coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution program designed to ensure that the parenting plan is actually carried out. It is used to resolve conflicts regarding children instead of going to court or mediation. The job of a parenting coordinator is to facilitate communication between the parents in order to protect parent-child relationships and minimize the child’s suffering that can result from conflict between the parents.
Parenting coordinators help high-conflict parents to carry out their parenting plans by helping to resolve disputes. They may do this through providing education in areas such as the parents’ options regarding custody or on the effects that certain decisions or actions will have on the child. Parenting coordinators can also make recommendations to the parents in order to promote the child’s best interests.
If the parents and the court give their prior consent, the parenting coordinators may also make some limited decisions regarding the child and the parenting plan. This requires that the parents agree to make the parenting coordinator’s agreements binding in the event that the parents cannot come to an agreement. If this occurs, the parents must obey the coordinator’s decisions as if they were court orders.
The duties of a parental coordinator can include meeting with the parents and child, together or separately; reviewing psychological evaluations; consulting teachers, psychologists, etc.; mediating visitation; teaching parenting skills; making recommendations to the court concerning visitation; and reporting the child’s viewpoints to the court. Parental coordinators can also help parents create a parenting plan, if one is not already in place.
To serve as a parenting coordinator, one must meet several educational and training qualifications. Coordinators must be either:
- A licensed physician,
- A Florida-licensed attorney,
- A licensed mental health professional, or
- Certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a family law mediator.
All parenting coordinators must complete further training and certification. Those who have committed child abuse, domestic violence, and similar offenses are disqualified from being coordinators.
If you are going through a divorce and having trouble enforcing a parenting plan, the services of a skilled family law attorney can help you get through this stressful time and can ensure that your children get the attention and care that they need. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.