© 2018 by Heather Kelm.

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What is Parenting Coordination?

Parenting Coordination

Parenting coordination is most useful for parents who already have a parenting plan or other permanent arrangements for custody, guardianship and access, usually recorded in a court order or in a written agreement. Parenting coordination isn't designed to make final arrangements like these, it's meant to help implement and work with those arrangements once they're in place. At times, I have worked with parents to refine their parenting plan and ensure it is working for their children and them. Parenting coordinators help parents deal with day-to-day conflicts about parenting issues on a long-term basis, usually for one to two years, with a focus on the children and the children's experience of their parents' conflict.

Parents who agree to try parenting coordination rather than going back to court will meet with me and sign a Parenting Coordination Agreement that outlines the role, objectives and scope of my services, as well as the rights and obligations of each parent. I will usually be retained for a fixed period up to two years.

When parenting disputes arise, either parent may contact me to assist in dealing with the issues. I will listen to each parent's side of the story and attempt to reach a resolution of the dispute through information gathering and consensus building. If a settlement cannot be reached by consensus, I will make a determination to resolve the dispute by which both parents will be bound. When the next problem comes up, the parents will go back to me and the process starts again.

Along the way, I will also try to help the parents learn to communicate more effectively with each other and identify the hot-button issues which trigger disputes. I will continue working with the parents until the term of his or her retainer expires or when either both parents or I agree to end the parenting coordination process.

Parenting coordination does not replace mediation or any other effective means of negotiation, consensus-building and cooperative decision-making. Instead, parenting coordination offers parents involved in high-conflict disputes the consistent, ongoing direction of a single, qualified professional using a less adversarial, less expensive dispute resolution process. Mediation, negotiation, consensus-building and cooperative decision-making are all part of the parent coordination process.

Parenting coordination does not usurp the role of the courts, no alternative dispute resolution process can. While the parents are involved in the parenting coordination process, they are expected not to apply to court for an order different than the decision of the parenting coordinator. A parent who does go to court over an issue already decided by me will have to contribute to the other parent's costs of responding to the application, and must accept the risk that the court will agree with my decision.

The speed at which parents can access a parenting coordinator is a major benefit. Disputes can be discussed in person, by telephone or by video conferencing. Parents do not need to be in the same location as a parenting coordinator. A parenting coordinator can also make the decision by telephone as long as they provide the parents with a written decision soon after.

Parenting coordination is a child-focused dispute resolution process for separated families. I meet with the child(ren) regularly to ensure the process is working for them and they are heard. Parenting coordinators are experienced mental health professionals, social workers, family law lawyers, counsellors, family therapists and psychologists who have special training in mediating and arbitrating parenting disputes, and in helping separated parents recognize the needs of their children. I have worked with families, youth and children for over 35 years and can assist families to find a better path to live their lives moving forward.

Separation is a difficult event for parents and a critical point in the lives of their children. Some parents, particularly where their breakup was traumatic, find themselves in constant conflict with one another, long after separation and sometimes long after trial.

Parenting coordination is a process that gives parents access to a neutral decision-maker who can resolve day-to-day parenting conflicts as they arise, with the goal of minimizing further conflict and additional appearances in court. Parents in conflict can retain a parenting coordinator on their own initiative or be referred to a parenting coordinator by the court. I am a member of the BC Parent Coordinator Roster Society and available to help your clients reach their full potential as co-parents.

The cost of a Parenting Coordinator is significantly less then hiring lawyers and going to court. I offer a sliding scale based on the joint income of the parents. Working with me in a timely manner can significantly reduce financial costs but more importantly, reduce the emotional costs to your children and family.

Information for Parents

In general, parenting coordination works best for parents who already have some kind of permanent arrangements in place regarding parenting issues.

Information for Professionals

The BC Parenting Coordinator Roster Society was incorporated in September 2009 and has developed Guidelines for Parenting Coordination as the practice standards of the Society, which were adopted and modified from a version originally created by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Fees

With my training background in social work, I have a respect for peoples’ differing abilities to pay. My fees are set on a fee-for-service basis using a sliding scale that ranges from $250 - $420 per hour. The fee is determined by your joint income, or may be determined by your assets. You will be charged from the beginning of a scheduled appointment time, even if you are late. Further, time will be taken at the beginning of the first meeting for me to present my qualifications, experience and approach to Parenting Coordination to help ensure that the service you receive is on an informed basis. This is deemed part of the time provided and billed for.

A retainer based on 20 hours of service at the respective rate, as per the fee schedule in the fees section is required prior to commencing. Billing will be on the basis of actual time spent on any activity related to the parenting coordination service and charged at the rate as per the fee schedule plus GST. You will be billed for any activity directed to your case. If less time is taken than covered by the retainer, a refund will be issued. If more time is required than covered by the retainer, I will ask for additional funds to be provided before continuing the service.