Serving the needs of separated and divorcing families

What is Parenting Coordination?

Unhappy millennial couple sitting apart on couch visiting female psychologist

More than one million children each year are affected by divorce and family separation. Half of these children will be raised in families where parents remain in conflict. Many of these parents engage in ongoing litigation over their children for years. Children raised in an atmosphere of unrelenting conflict are four to five times as likely to grow-up with serious emotional and behavioral difficulties. Not only are high-conflict cases damaging to innocent children, they require an inordinate amount of court time and mental health services. Consequently, high-conflict divorces pose grave concerns for mental health and legal professionals. In order to minimize the adverse effects of divorce on children and families, many parents are encouraged or court ordered to work with a parenting coordinator.

Parenting Coordination is a non-confidential, child centered process for conflicted divorced and divorcing parents. It is a form of dispute resolution for parents in which mediation would be inappropriate or ineffective due to high levels of conflict. Through education, mediation and case management, the family’s progress is monitored to ensure that parents are fulfilling their obligations to their child while complying with the recommendations of the court. With prior approval of the parties and/or the Court, the PC may have the authority to make limited decisions, within the scope of the court order, to assist high-conflict parents who have demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own. The role of the parenting coordinator is outlined by the authority granted in the court order or the stipulation of the parties.

Parenting Coordinators assist parents establish and maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship by reducing parental conflict and the risk factors that influence a child’s post-divorce adjustment. The overall emphasis is to offer children the opportunity to grow in a home environment free from the devastating stress of being caught in the middle of parental conflict.

Since parenting coordination is a non-confidential process, parenting coordinators document parental behaviors and compliance with court orders. This is usually done through memos and, if necessary, by testimony to the Court. Parenting coordinators may share their concerns regarding each parents’ behaviors and make recommendations regarding unresolved issues.

What is a Parenting Coordinator?

A Parenting Coordinator (PC) is a mental health or family law professional who has had a minimum of 20 hours of PC training. They work as a neutral professional to help high-conflict families minimize conflict while shielding their child from parental conflict and loyalty binds. The process is a hybrid approach combining family law and mental health. It is a non-confidential process which allows the PC to monitor and facilitate cooperation between homes. Parents may utilize a PC pre or post divorce.

A parenting coordinator cannot change the legal or physical custody status of the child(ren).

What are the benefits of Parenting Coordination?

When Parenting Coordination is successful it will reduce stress on your children and save you and the other parent the expense and stress of on-going ligation. Although parents are discouraged from seeking court action some return to court.  Since the process is non-confidential the PC is able to testify to what they have witnessed in the process which is often helpful to the court in better understanding the dynamics at play between the parents. Read More

What are the goals of Parenting Coordination?

The primary goal is to help your child adjust to their two homes by reducing the unnecessary stress of high-conflict divorce. A parenting coordinator combines assessment, education, case management, mediation, and at times, arbitration functions when granted this authority by the court.  While the PC may see the children at least one time, they remain the focus of the parenting coordination process. Parents attend joint meetings.

How is Parenting Coordination different from Co-Parenting Counseling?

Both parenting coordination and coparenting counseling provide an option for solving coparenting issues while improving your coparenting relationship. Both of these neutral professionals assist parents realign their relationship while minimizing stress for children, They focus on communication, conflict resolution skills, children’s developmental issues, and children’s issues in divorce.  Parenting coordination is a non-confidential process while co-parenting counseling is confidential, and therefore not effective for the high-conflict cases. The non-confidential nature of parenting coordination allows the professional to provide information to attorneys and at times the court.  As a result, the PC has a greater ability to implement interventions aimed at improvements in the parental team.  A co-parent counselor’s ability to assist parents is hampered by their inability to report to the court and more suited for mild to moderate parental conflict. Read More

How do you get trained as a PC and how is one appointed?

The Cooperative Parenting Institute now offers an online training program for professionals who wish to become a parenting coordinator. You may read more here:

In states that have parenting coordination statutes, parenting coordinators are usually appointed by the Court. Otherwise parents are required to agree to the appointment. Every appointment must be accompanied by a detailed appointment document such as a court order, consent order or a private stipulation. Read More

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