What is the Role of a Parenting Time Coordinator?

Many people involved in family law cases involving child custody or parenting time have an idea about what a family law lawyer, a mediator, and a Judge do. However, there is another professional that can play a role in the family court setting, and that is a Parenting Time Coordinator (Coordinator) – many people don’t know how a PTC can serve their family.

What is a Parenting Time Coordinator?

A Coordinator is a neutral third party who is appointed by a judge and who trained in both family law and mediation. Their role is to help parents navigate and implement their new parenting plan and learn to improve their new co-parenting relationship so that they can act in their children’s best interests. A coordinator can act as both a coach and conflict settler. It is important for families working with a Coordinator to discuss each role and be clear about how the Coordinator will help.

Helping You Co-Parent

Most often, Coordinators provide co-parenting coaching and training. Unfortunately, the adversarial legal process often reinforces parents to work against each other in order to “win” their case. However, once the judgment is signed and a parenting plan is in place, all of that adversarial energy works against the fact that children need their parents to parent together as co-parents. It will almost always be in children’s best interests for parents to learn to set aside their personal differences and cooperate as co-parents. This can often be easier said than done. In very high conflict cases, a Coordinator can be appointed to help families transition from an adversarial relationship into a co-parenting relationship during that first challenging year. Coordinators use their experience in family law and mediation to guide parents to build a new co-parenting relationship with the aim of reducing conflict over time. Coordinators may also provide reading materials and recommend additional co-parenting programs and resources. Because sometimes there needs to be a tie-breaker and it can take a lot of time and money to get in front of a judge, a Coordinator is often empowered by the court to make binding Recommendations. These Recommendations come only after efforts to guide a family to resolve their own conflicts. One example of a conflict that parents often struggle to resolve relates to extreme weather and how this affects both parent's parenting time. What if there is an ice storm that prevents a parent from making a parenting time exchange with the children? When does the other parent start their regular parenting time? And what happens to those days of missed time? When parents can’t come to an agreement about things like this, a Coordinator can make a decision for them. It’s important to note though that these decisions are subject to review by a Judge if either parent requests it – which will increase the conflict, time, and cost that a family must consider. Often, a family will find greater long-term satisfaction if they develop the ability to resolve their own conflicts and to learn to rely less on the decisions of third parties such as Coordinators and Judges.

Do I Need a Parenting Time Coordinator?

Ultimately, a Coordinator is there to help your family in a timely and flexible way. Families who are experiencing high conflict can discuss the option of hiring a Coordinator to help them move past the conflict and learn to co-parent in a way that serves their children’s best interest.
Categories: Child Custody