Parenting Coordination

A new solution for high-conflict divorce parents

After divorce, parents often enter into parenting plans which regulate their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of their children. These plans state where and with whom the children are to live; the maintenance payable; the contact and access between the children and either of the parties or third persons; and the children’s schooling and religious upbringing. Parents in high conflict divorces will continue to have disputes about the implementation of the parenting plan.

Parents can now appoint a Parenting Coordinator (PC) who can facilitate these disputes.

The most dominant factor in a child’s psychological and social adjustment is not the divorce itself, but rather the frequency and intensity of the parental conflict prior to, during and after the divorce. Appointing a PC can minimise the negative impact of the conflict on children.

I would advise high conflict divorce parents to appoint a PC, who is either an accredited mental health professional, legal practitioner or family law mediator and enter into a written agreement which sets out the PC’s costs as well as the basis and parameters of the PC’s authority.

The parameters of the PC’s authority must be defined. A PC acts as an enforcer and implementer of existing legal authority, i.e. a court order, and is not a creator of authority.

In a recent case, the court appointed two PC’s and gave them wide powers. The PC’s suspended the mother’s contact with the children. The court ruled that the PC was not given the right to terminate or suspend the parental responsibilities and rights and only a court has this power.

A PC is highly recommended as they can provide parents with prompt attention and can make decisions expeditiously, which will be binding on the parents until a competent court directs otherwise or the parents jointly agree.