Parenting Coordination has become increasingly popular, with parents moving towards engaging a Patenting Coordinator to assist in navigating and hopefully resolving issues relating to parenting arrangements. With its increasing popularity and emerging misconceptions, it is crucial to recognise that Parenting Coordination is not a form of therapy.
What is Parenting Coordination?
Parenting coordination assists separating and separated parents transition into co-parents through a non-confidential, child-focussed alternative dispute resolution process. The technique assists parents in the organisation of ongoing parenting arrangements before, during and after final Court Orders have been reached. The Parenting Coordination process combines assessment, case management, dispute resolution, conflict and communication coaching and sometimes decision-making functions. It is particularly suited to parents who have had difficulty resolving child-related disputes, assisting former partners to become effective co-parents, who focus on the needs of their children, rather than emotional disputes between themselves.
A parenting coordination is usually appointed by a court order or private agreement. They are appointed to specifically maintain focus on the best interests of children, and assist in the development of constructive and effective communication skills between co-parents. Parenting coordinators are highly experienced with working with high conflict families, and undergo specific parenting coordination training to develop the skills essential for acting in this role. They will generally be a media, social scientist or experienced family lawyer, and it is crucial for each individual family to consider the coordinator best suited to their personal circumstances and family dynamics.
Parenting Coordination assists with:
- Dispute resolution arising out of the implementation of parenting orders;
- Education about co-parenting and parental communication;
- Focussing on the psychological and developmental needs of the children;
- Strategies to manage conflict and reduce the negative effects on children; and
- Effective post-separation parenting
Parenting Coordination or Therapy?
While parenting coordination may sound similar to counselling or therapy, Parenting Coordination is rather an ongoing educational process involving significant attitudinal behavioural change by the involved parties. It focusses on reducing a child’s exposure to conflict through assisting parents’ transition to a relationship of effective co-parenting, rather than one defined by conflict, anger and hostility. Parenting Coordination can be revisited at any time if parents feel they are returning to a conflict-based relationship.
Unlike a therapist, a parenting coordinator is a specifically trained professional who can teach and assist parents in conflict-free decision making and understanding or interpreting family court orders and parenting plans. The parenting coordinator is ‘neutral’ and independent professional who can assist parents in making quick day-to-day decisions, in line with any Court Orders, while also developing effective overall communication and conflict resolution strategies.
Parenting Coordination is also fundamentally non-confidential, unlike therapy, and is reportable in court. This means that both parties can be held accountable for their actions and behaviour. Parties may be monitored to ensure compliance with relevant court orders, and emails and messages may be monitored to evaluate communication skills for the identification of areas for improvement.
Benefits of Parenting Coordination
Parenting Coordination benefits the children, parents and entire family unit.
When exposed to ongoing conflict during or after family law proceedings, divorce or separation, children can have poor future outcomes in education, social lives, health and future relationships. Parenting Coordination enhances a child’s confidence and self-esteem, reduces symptoms of stress with the decreasing of parental conflict, and increases the likelihood of keeping two active parents in the child’s life, ultimately creating a more relaxed home atmosphere and allowing a child to adjust more effectively.
Parents are also benefitted by Parenting Coordination. Parents are educated on the impact of parental conflicts on the development of their children, and gain anger management, communication and conflict resolution skills.
Parenting Coordination ultimately reduces the overall conflict and emotional distress experienced by the entire family, and protects the most vulnerable and defenceless victims of high conflict parenting: the children.
Parenting Coordinators understand the difficulties in implementing a parenting plan after divorce or separation. Parents will be educated by the parenting coordinator, so they can begin to effectively manage their co-parenting themselves.
Want to know more? Talk to one of our special Sydney family lawyers today. We have family lawyers in North Sydney, family lawyers in Sydney CBD and Leichhardt. Our Team of leading family lawyers are experienced in all parenting matters following separation and are here to help.