Do I Need a Parenting Time Coordinator?

Father playing with his small children - Parenting time coordinator concept
Parenting time is a crucial issue that must be determined in Oregon divorces when spouses who share children part ways. However, parenting time schedules can be complex — and it can often be difficult for parents to agree on all the details. In high-conflict situations where parents cannot agree on the issues concerning the terms of parenting time, a parenting time coordinator can be useful. In most cases, they can work with the parties to resolve parenting time disputes more quickly than a court and help ensure the best interests of the children are met.

What is Parenting Coordination?

Parenting coordination is a type of dispute resolution used specifically to resolve conflicts between co-parents. It is child-focused and centers around the enforcement of a parenting plan. The individual who is provided with the decision-making power by the court to assist with facilitating the resolution of parenting time disputes is referred to as the “parenting time coordinator.” Parenting coordination addresses the daily issues parents face. This can include conflicts related to transportation, holiday schedules, and the costs of extracurricular activities. Disputes can also revolve around medical concerns, methods of discipline, education decisions, parenting exchanges, and religious upbringing. The objective with parenting coordination is to help the parties learn techniques for effective and healthy communication — and to avoid any further conflicts requiring litigation.

How Does a Parenting Time Coordinator Assist the Parties?

A parenting time coordinator is a neutral party who assists the parties with making decisions regarding parenting time matters. They are required to have training and experience in family mediation and are often certified or licensed in a legal and/or social services field. The services they provide to the court and parents can include gathering information, monitoring compliance with any court orders, providing the parents with parenting time recommendations, and offering assistance with conflict management. Importantly, the coordinator must maintain impartiality and objectivity during the process of helping parents resolve parenting conflicts. Although a parenting time coordinator cannot offer legal advice, they can assist the parties by:
  • Serving an assessment function — A variety of records should be reviewed when making a parenting time determination, including custody evaluations, court order, information from parent and child interviews, educational records, and any cases involving abuse or domestic violence.
  • Serving an educational role — A parenting coordinator should coach the parties about issues such as child development, the impact of parental behavior on their children, and conflict resolution.
  • Assisting parties with case management — A parenting time coordinator should work with the family and any professionals (such as those in mental health, social services, and education fields) to reach a resolution in the case.
  • Serving in a conflict management function — A parenting coordinator’s role is to assist the parties with working out disagreements concerning the children to minimize conflict. They may monitor the written communication between the parties and makes suggestions as to how it can be more productive.
  • Serving in a decision-making role — In the event parents are unable to settle parenting time disputes between themselves, the parenting coordinator may make decisions in accordance with the court order. They might also make recommendations to the court for matters requiring further consideration.
In Oregon, parents can stipulate to work with a parenting time coordinator — or a judge has the statutory authority to appoint one. Either one or both parties may be ordered to pay for the parenting time coordinator’s services if an agreement cannot be reached.

What are the Benefits of Having a Parenting Time Coordinator?

Divorce is never an easy process. It can be even more stressful when children are involved, and custody issues must be decided. A parenting time coordinator can offer guidance to parents to reduce and resolve conflict, limit the amount of time spent in the courtroom, and help to save a substantial amount in legal fees. While every family may be able to benefit from parenting coordination, it can be a particularly good option in situations where conflicts run high. Parenting coordination can also come with several major advantages for your children. Notably, children are impacted by the tension their parents feel. When they observe their parents resolve their conflicts in healthy ways, they can learn essential problem-solving and communication skills. In addition, by resolving your disputes out of court and spending less time litigating them, parents have more time (and money) to focus on their childrens’ needs.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Divorce and Family Law Attorney

If you are facing a parenting time dispute, it’s vital to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side who can help you reach an outcome that is best for you and your children. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides compassionate counsel and reliable representation for a wide variety of family law matters, including those involving parenting time, throughout Oregon. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.
Categories: Child Custody