Have you heard of “Parenting Co-ordinators”? Parenting Co-ordinators are trained professionals who work to help parents manage co-parenting via a new nationwide service called Parenting Co-ordination Australia. Launched last year, this brand new child-focused dispute resolution program reduces the likelihood of co-parents becoming embroiled in adversarial court proceedings and is a valuable post-separation tool to minimise high-conflict parenting. Let’s take a look at what Parenting Co-ordinators do and how they can help you.
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Parenting Co-ordination is a new approach to resolving co-parenting conflicts where co-parents learn to work together to make decisions especially where they disagree. It is particularly useful to help implement parenting plans and resolve ‘small’ disputes that are best kept out of the clogged-up court system. For instance, everyday issues like managing changeovers or travel plan issues.
As a post-separation tool for parents, especially those who have been in high conflict, the service offers case management, education and mediation all rolled into one.
Aiming to keep parents out of court, Parenting Co-ordinators teach parents communication, negotiation and anger management skills and how to implement parenting orders and parenting plans.When co-parents learn to effectively reduce conflict, it’s the kids that benefit. They experience less stress, because parental conflict is reduced. They have less loyalty conflicts and importantly, it keeps both parents active in their life.
How does it work?
The service can be used before, during and after reaching agreement on final Court Orders. If there are interim Court Orders in place, the service can assist with implementation and monitoring of compliance with the Orders.
Parents meet with their Parenting Co-ordinator once a month for at least 12 months. The sessions take a few hours each. Before a session, parents agree with the Parenting Co-ordinator on three issues that arose over the past month, with the aim of resolving those particular issues during the session. Sessions can be undertaken in person or online.
If parents don’t agree on how to deal with an issue, the Parenting Co-ordinator can make a direction (though this is non-court binding). The parents are expected to then comply with this direction. Note that outcomes of sessions are reportable if the matter goes to court.
In between sessions, parents can contact their Parenting Co-ordinator with any problems they are experiencing with co-parenting. The Parenting Co-ordinator will then communicate with the other parent on the particular issue to hasten the resolution of the problem.
Emails and texts between co-parents can also be monitored by the Parenting Co-ordinator, who can vet the communications so that inappropriate or inflammatory communication are not exchanged.
One of the great things about the service is that your Parenting Co-ordinator will make themselves available 24 hours a day for any emergencies involving the children. It can be very helpful in dealing with urgent issues at short notice, with decisions being made on the spot rather than becoming protracted and leading to lawyer and court involvement to resolve.
During the program, parents are educated on how to manage future conflicts themselves, so that at some stage there will no longer be a need to engage the Parenting Co-ordinator.
Who are the Parenting Co-ordinators?
Eventually, the service will enable parents to select a Parenting Co-ordinator from a variety of professions, including family lawyers, mediators, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP), social workers and psychologists and more. The service is still in its infancy but as more and more professionals get involved, there will be more Parenting Co-ordinators to choose from. At present though, there are already almost 40 fully trained professionals who can be selected to act as your Parenting Co-ordinator.
How much does it cost?
Parents negotiate the fees for the service directly with their Parenting Co-ordinator. Fees vary, as every family’s situation is different, with some taking longer than others to reach agreements. The cost of the service is shared by co-parents.
Parents who choose to take advantage of this service both need to agree to do so. Sometimes, a court might order parents to attend sessions with a Parenting Co-ordinator.
We think this new service is a fantastic idea and encourage you to find out more by visiting the Parenting Co-ordination Australia website.
If you would like legal advice in relation to a parenting issue, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.