Parenting Coordinator

In high-conflict separations or divorces, parenting issues may arise with greater frequency that continue to bring parents back to Court for resolution. This strategy is both untimely and expensive. An alternate strategy to manage such disputes as they arise is through the use of a Parenting Coordinator.

A Parenting Coordinator is a neutral person to whom parents can turn when in dispute on matters relating to the children. Parents may access the service of a Parenting Coordinator in a more timely fashion and costs are almost always less than going to Court, but this is not a guarantee.

The role of the Parenting Coordinator is to help parents resolve disputes with regard to the implementation or follow-through of a pre-existing parenting plan, separation agreement, minutes of settlement or any other contract with regard to the care of children between them or any other agreed upon parenting matter. To be clear, the parenting coordinator is to address and help facilitate a pre-existing parenting plan or resolve new unanticipated issues. The parenting coordinator typically does not substantially change pre-existing agreements on a permanent basis, unless specifically empowered to do so. This is distinguished from mediation/arbitration where there may not yet be an existing parenting agreement and where the mediator/arbitrator is given jurisdiction to address any issue brought forward by either parent or as mutually predetermined by agreement. These may appear to be fine distinctions and to understand fully, you may need to consult a lawyer.

Parenting Coordinators typically act in two capacities with the same clients: mediator and arbitrator. In other words, if the parents in Parenting Coordination are unable to resolve their issue(s) by way of mediation (which may include coaching, education, guidance, etc.) then the Parenting Coordinator would arbitrate the matter, meaning that the same person would go from one who helps facilitate decisions between the parents to one who makes decisions on their behalf.

My approach to Parenting Coordination is different. It is my experience that when the same service provider functions as both mediator and arbitrator, once a matter is arbitrated, many persons consider the Parenting Coordinator biased in favor of whom the arbitrated decision was most closely aligned. This then may undermine the spirit of Parenting Coordination, creating the conditions that can lead to the termination, withdrawal or dismissal of the Parenting Coordinator. Service is lost in its entirety.

With regard to costs associated with the Parenting Coordinator service specifically, parents typically divide these costs equally unless there is a prior agreement to do otherwise or unless there is an Order of the Court specifying how costs are to be distributed between them. The matter of distribution of costs must be determined by the parents, lawyers or Courts, prior to referral. If over the course of service a parent wishes to dispute the allocation of costs between themselves and are unable to resolve this through mediation, then this would be a matter for arbitration or litigation, bearing in mind that the mediation service is a closed process.

 

Referral and service process:

1

A lawyer for either party must initiate contact for the purpose of referral. If one parent calls, then the other parent may consider the PC biased in favor the caller and this can undermine service. Hence the referral must come from the lawyer.

2

Please note, there can be considerable time and activity establishing the terms of service during the referral stage for the Parenting Coordinator service. These activities may include phone calls, faxes, emails, reading of information and/or meetings and/or other activities between lawyers representing the parents, the parents themselves, and the intended Parenting Coordinator. These activities will be accounted and billed for during the referral stage and will be billed either to the referring party or both parties jointly as will be determined at the time of the initial phone call. This account will be due regardless of whether the referral results in the actual Parenting Coordination Service. A retainer may be required to cover costs during the referral process.

3

Assuming service, a retainer will be determined and the parents will forward payment accordingly in advance of any further activity commencing by the Parenting Coordinator. Please note, parents must obtain independent legal advice regarding the Parenting Coordinator Agreement, sign the agreement, attach a Certificate of Independent Legal Advice obtained from their lawyer and provide these materials with retainer to the Parenting Coordinator. Thereafter, the parents or their lawyers provide pertinent reports such as found in the pleadings brief and which can include affidavit material, reports of CAS involvement, prior assessments, etc. These would be read prior to setting meetings.

4

The Parenting Coordinator then meets with the parents separately and will screen for domestic violence and power imbalances. Thereafter, the Parenting Coordinator will meet with the parents either together or separately to get acquainted and to learn about them, their family histories, the children and current issues. During these meetings parents may provide signed consent permitting the Parenting Coordinator to gather information from other service providers relevant to their situation. These meetings are scheduled for 3 hours duration.

5

Lastly, the Parenting Coordinator may meet with both parents together in a joint session wherein issues of concern are discussed. If there is sufficient cause or reason that the parents cannot be seen together, alternate arrangements may be made, appropriate to the circumstances at the discretion of the Parenting Coordinator. If matters cannot be resolved through discussion, then either party or the Parenting Coordinator may call an impasse and move the matter to be settled by arbitration assuming an arbitrator has been preselected.

6

On an ongoing basis, issues of concern may be brought to the parenting coordinator for resolution. Ongoing meetings and other sources of information required to assist in settling disputes may be required to assist in reaching a resolution.

7

Information will be shared only upon written consent except where there is risk of harm to self or another person, or as required by law as it pertains to child protection matters. There is no recording or posting of content or comments in any form or media by clients or their proxy although Jessica Biren Caverly may record any/all conversations at his discretion solely for accountability purposes in the event an issue with service arises. The service record is the property of Jessica Biren Caverly. Information obtained about persons served shall be used for service purposes, payment collection and/or, satisfaction surveys. Non-identifying information may be used for statistical, research or teaching purposes. However, the mediation phase with Jessica Biren Caverly is closed and neither he, note or reports can be used for court or arbitration purposes with regard to the parenting dispute between the parents.

Fees

Please be advised that I do not accept payment by third party payers (benefit or EAP providers) for this service, since it is typically not covered by insurance. People are directly responsible for payment of services as per the information provided at the time of service. A receipt will be provided with which persons can seek reimbursement from their EAP or benefit provider. Reimbursement remains a matter between you and your benefit or EAP provider.