Whether you are getting a divorce or otherwise breaking up as a couple and have a child, parenting responsibilities will most usually be shared as will the time you spend with your child. It's the sharing part that can become a problem for many. Emotions are heated. Worries are rampant. Bitterness is undeniable.
But it is in your child's best interests if you are able to work together to devise a mutually beneficial parenting plan. Besides, the plan you come up with together will often be much better for you than the one the judge issues. Before the judge has an opportunity to review parenting plans submitted by both parties, you may have the opportunity – usually through a court order – to attend parenting coordination. Here, we discuss what this is and how it could help you.
Parenting coordination is an alternative dispute resolution platform that focuses on helping parents make decisions for their children. During this process, a parenting coordinator – who is appointed by the court – helps the parents to create and/or implement a parenting plan. The parenting coordinator is meant to provide guidance and education, but the primary goals of the parenting coordinator are threefold:
help parents learn to share parenting responsibilities while minimizing conflict;
help parents effectively disengage when disputes arise; and
help parents help their children grow up free from stress and guilt caused by their parents' disputes about parenting.
When there is high conflict between the parents regarding how to raise a child, parenting coordination may be necessary.
Common reasons parenting coordination is sought include the following:
mediation has failed;
the court believes it is necessary to protect the child from harm due to the parents' failure to implement the parenting plan;
the parents have failed to implement a parenting plan;
a child has been denied access to one parent due to the other parent;
a child has been restricted from seeing extended family members;
one parent has interfered with another parent's access to important information concerning the child, like health, education, or welfare information;
parents cannot agree on substantive issues regarding the child;
one or both parties have changed attorneys too frequently; and/or
Parenting coordination can either be ordered by the court or agreed upon by the parents.
When parenting coordination is not successful, the likely next step is back to court. A judge – and not you or the other parent – will make the decisions about any remaining disputes. This takes control out of your hands and into the hands of the court. It adds costs. It adds frustrations. And it adds time.
The best solution is coming up with a parenting plan both parents can agree on. If disputes remain, then parenting coordination should be taken seriously. It is in the best interests of all parties to avoid the court's interference. But if the latter transpires, then you want to have an experienced family law attorney in Orlando representing your rights and your child's best interests.