Tufts Medical Center's CFEC now provides a full range of Parent Coordination Services including therapeutic visitation and family reunification.
Introduction to Parenting Coordination
What is a Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordinators are impartial professionals designated by the parties and/or the court to assist to parents and guardians in resolving disputes that arise within the context of their parenting plans. The scope of Parenting Coordination varies widely and should be clearly identified in the Court Order that appoints the Parenting Coordinator. Consistent with the Court Order, a Parenting Coordinator may be authorized to resolve certain disputes by making recommendations that are binding on the parties, subject only to modification by the Court.
Parenting Coordinators also assist in facilitating parenting plans by educating the parties about developmental needs of children at various ages, the effects of parenting styles on the children, techniques of co-parenting, and appropriate methods of parental communication. The Parenting Coordinator assists the parties in carrying out the court-ordered parenting arrangement. In some circumstances the Parenting Coordinator may be authorized to make decisions about schooling, medical, dental or psychological treatment for the children if the parents cannot agree on their own.
Why are Parenting Coordinators Needed?
Parenting Coordinators help families in times of high conflict resolve many of their disputes out of the court. Parenting Coordinators help parties avoid going to court to resolve disputes arising about of their parenting plans.
Parenting Coordinators, skilled in working with high-conflict families and knowledgeable about child-related issues, are an efficient and effective means resolving family disputes without continued resort to litigation. They can also be available in a more timely manner than the courts so that disputes do not linger while the parties wait for a court hearing and decision.
Perhaps most importantly, Parenting Coordinators use their skills to facilitate the resolution of family disputes by helping families to work through conflict in a manner that is more likely to benefit the children, thus minimizing the consequences of conflict on their well-being.
Who Serves as Parenting Coordinators?
Parenting Coordinators are generally licensed mental health or legal providers who are skilled in the field of mediation and conciliation and knowledgeable about child-related issues. Their job is to benefit the well-being of the children by minimizing conflict and resolving disputes without the cost and necessity of judicial intervention.
As trained professionals, Parenting Coordinators are knowledgeable about the effects of family disruption on the well-being of children. They are skilled in working with separated and divorced families and trained in such matters as parental alienation, domestic violence, substance abuse and matters that may arise. They are also knowledgeable of the legal issues that affect disrupted families.
Is Parenting Coordination Confidential?
Yes and no. The Parenting Coordinator will not reveal confidential family information to third parties without the parties’ permission, but Parenting Coordinators can be ordered by the Court to testify about the subject of the Parenting Coordination.
What are the Limits of Parenting Coordinators' Authority?
The Court Order defines and limits the authority of a Parenting Coordinator. In no event, however, is Parenting Coordinator deemed to be an investigator or evaluator of child custody or parenting plans. A Parenting Coordinator may not serve as any parties' therapist, attorney, advisor or guardian ad litem.
Under what circumstances are Parenting Coordinators likely to be appointed by the Court?
A Parenting Coordinator may be appropriate in matters where the parents or legal guardians need assistance in implementing a parenting plan or other court orders, particularly under the following circumstances:
- The parties have had consistent difficulty communicating as co-parents regarding decisions affecting the children's day to day lives
- The parties have been unable to transition a child between caregivers without undue conflict or in a manner that fosters the well-being of the children
- The Court determines that a Parenting Coordinator is necessary to implement a parenting plan in a manner that protects the well-being of the children
- There are ongoing disputes about interference with children spending time with either parents or extended family members
- There are disputes about either parents' access to children's health or educational progress
- There is a need for ongoing services (e.g. medical treatment) and the parties have been unsuccessful to facilitate these on their own
- The Court finds there are other circumstances in which a neutral third party is advisable to facilitate a parenting arrangement
- There is an ongoing mental health issue with one of the parents that requires monitoring or oversight
- The parties have continued resorting to the courts to resolve ongoing disputes
What is the Process after a Parenting Coordinator is Appointed?
The Parent Coordinator will initially meet with the parties, either together or separately, to establish and clarify the issues that are or may become the subject of dispute. The Parenting Coordinator may then choose to meet with the children as well. The duties of the Parenting Coordinator vary widely depending upon the needs of the family, geographical considerations, available resources, etc. In general, the Parenting Coordinator addresses disputes and protects the children from the consequences of begin exposed to ongoing conflict and hostility.
Parenting coordination is not appropriate in matters where it may jeopardize the safety or well-being of any person, including the Parent Coordinator.