What Is Child Parenting Coordination?: Is a question our BC and Alberta family lawyers get asked a lot. Senior family lawyer Peter Graburn provides answers to a number of questions regarding child parenting coordination for family clients in Alberta and BC.
Family separation and divorce can involve many issues: parenting of children; financial support; division of family property, etc. Resolving these issues can sometimes create conflict between separating spouses. Sometimes there is conflict, but sometimes there is “high conflict”. “High conflict family law” is a specific area of family law often characterized by (among other factors): domestic violence; police or child welfare agency involvement, and; prolonged, vitriolic Court proceedings. Children are often the object (and victims) of this conflict.
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High Conflict Family Law 1 877 602 9900
In a previous article “Managing High Conflict Family Law” I indicated some of the options for dealing with “high conflict family law” matters, including: Counselling (for both parents and children); Parenting Reports (in Alberta, Practice Notes 7 & 8); Counsel for the Child(ren); Case Management, and; Parenting Coordination. But what is child Parenting Coordination?
What Is Child Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordination is a child- focused form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) intended to deal with on-going parenting disputes without constantly resorting to those prolonged, vitriolic Court proceedings. It is often a useful alternative where mediation of those disputes has proven unsuccessful. Parenting Coordinators are often psychologists, social workers or even lawyers with special training and experience in child development, dispute resolution and family law [currently in Alberta (unlike BC), there is no specific legislation or requirements for Parenting Coordinators]. The Parenting Coordinator is appointed and empowered to make decisions either under Court Order or, alternatively, by agreement of the parents under the provincial Arbitration Act. The Parenting Coordinator will initially attempt to mediate a resolution of the parenting dispute but, if unsuccessful, may be authorized to make a decision for the parents on that dispute.
What Co-Parenting Issues can a Parenting Coordinator help with? 1 877 602 9900
What Is Child Parenting Coordination?, questions often include what can a PC do?
Specific parenting issues which may be addressed can (and often) include:
- Parenting Time (a parenting schedule);
- Daily routines (ie. homework, “screen time”, etc.);
- Holidays (summer vacations, etc.);
- Child care (baby-sitting, relatives);
- Transportation and exchanges (ie. pick-ups / drop-offs);
- Medical, dental and vision care and appointments;
- Extracurricular and special activities (and their costs), and;
- School matters.
What are the benefits of Parenting Coordination?
There are many advantages to resolving family law disputes through Parenting Coordination rather than Court, including:
Cost – Parenting Coordination is cost effective. Although the Parenting Coordinator may be a psychologist or lawyer charging their regular rates, Parenting Coordination can be less formal and procedurally cumbersome than Court;
Timely – Parenting Coordination can be scheduled quickly (depending on the parenting dispute in issue and the Parenting Coordinator’s availability) – it can often take weeks (if not months) to have a matter heard and resolved in Court;
On-Going Resolution – Parenting Coordination can continue over a long period of time, involving different issues as they arise, with the same person (ie. “decision-maker”) involved who is familiar with the family and their disputes;
Involvement – Parenting Coordination can allow the parents to be more involved in the resolution of their parenting disputes, sometimes allowing the parties to come up with more creative and specific solutions than a Court would be able or willing to impose.
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Parenting Coordination is just one “tool in the toolbox” for trying to resolve “high conflict family law” disputes. But it can be a timely, cost-efficient and durable alternative to Court, particularly in regard to resolving on-going, day-to-day parenting issues when parents cannot resolve these issues on their own, and perhaps even reducing that conflict so that parents can ultimately effectively co-parent their children on their own.