A parenting coordinator is a neutral, trained individual assigned by a court to a high conflict divorce matter in order to provide guidance and recommendations to the parties and the court on issues of conflict not specifically addressed in the court’s orders. Parenting coordinators cannot modify existing court orders, but can help the parties apply those court orders and resolve conflicts not specifically referenced in the court order.
There are three levels of parenting coordinators available.
A level 1 parenting coordinator has no decision making authority. This coordinator can work with the parties (somewhat like their own personal, ongoing mediator) to resolve disputes in a timely fashion as they come up. If the parties cannot resolve issues with the help of the coordinator, they may return to court for a final determination.
A level 2 parenting coordinator has the authority to make a binding recommendation, which must be followed by the parties until or unless the court overrules the coordinator’s recommendations.
A level 3 parenting coordinator has the authority not only to make binding recommendations, but also to select and manage a mental health treatment team.
Parenting coordinators can save parties considerable costs when compared to repeatedly returning to court for ongoing litigation. As a general rule, the parties share the cost of the parenting coordinator in some fashion (as opposed to each party paying their own counsel in litigation process). Also, parenting coordinators can generally meet with parties by telephone or in person promptly and address urgent issues much more quickly than can a family court.
The idea of parenting coordination is to provide parties who otherwise find themselves repeatedly litigating with a less expensive and more timely alternative.