The divorce process can be difficult for both spouses. It is certain to bring up a mix of emotions that can sometimes make it difficult to focus on a fair and reasonable outcome for both parties. The process becomes even more difficult when children are involved. While parents certainly want the best for their children and generally hope to spare children from the emotional toll a divorce can take, it can sometimes be possible to lose sight of what is truly in the best interests of the child when it comes to issues like child support and custody, also referred to as time-sharing in Florida. In these situations, a parenting coordinator can often be a helpful tool is resolving custody-related issues and helping parents to focus on a child’s health and well-being during and after a divorce.
What is a Parenting Coordinator?
A parenting coordinator is a mental health provider that has a minimum of a master’s degree and is licensed by the state. These individuals generally have an extensive background in child development, which is a necessary qualification because of the crucial role a parenting coordinator plays in ensuring that shared parental responsibility can be successful. They should also have experience in mediating as they will be serving in that type of role during their involvement in the divorce process. Additionally, parenting coordinators need to understand how the legal system works and have a background in family law because they are working with individuals involved in a legal process.
Parenting coordinators are not meant to design custody arrangements. While they may have suggestions about methods that can resolve custody-related issues or even suggestions about different types of custody arrangements, they are not meant to give an opinion as to how the final custody arrangement should look. Additionally, they are not there to design a parenting plan, but instead to facilitate parents that are in the process of designing such a plan to do so.
What is the Typical Role of a Parenting Coordinator?
Much like the divorce process is unique for each individual couple, the role of a parenting coordinator is unique to the dynamics of the relationships involved in a divorce. Generally, however, a parenting coordinator functions as a bridge between where parents are in determining custody matters and where they want to be. Parenting coordinators often fulfill the following functions:
- Meeting with all parties involved, including children, as well as the parties’ attorneys in an effort to identify issues involved in the divorce process;
- Mediating disputes between the parents about parenting-related issues;
- Working with children that are having an adverse relationship with one parents during the divorce process or who refuse to visit with one parent during the divorce process;
- Helping parents understand different issues that can arise as a result of the divorce process, such as parental alienation, and observing aspects of the divorce process where these issues can occur;
- Imparting skills to deal with the emotional stress of the divorce process;
- Teaching parenting skills in areas like communication, the emotional well-being of children, and child development;
- Helping parents work through conflict that may arise during the mediation process;
- Reporting to the court on issues involved in the process form both of the parties’ perspective as well as the perspective of the children so that the court can receive unbiased information regarding the custody process; and
- Helping parents achieve an agreement that reflects their wishes and address the best interests of the child.
These are certainly not the only roles a parenting coordinator might have to fill.
What are Some Advantages to Using a Parenting Coordinator?
Utilizing a parenting coordinator during the Florida divorce process can have several advantages. Some of these advantages include, keeping divorcing couples out of court for issues that do not require them to be in court. In turn, this can save the parties money because parenting coordinator can be less expensive than court and related legal fees. This can also save parties time because the legal process can take much longer than working with a qualified parenting coordinator. In doing so, parenting coordinators can help expedite the divorce process so that the parties can begin focusing on healing themselves and starting over.
Possibly the most important role of the parenting coordinator is to help make the divorce process more manageable on children. Parenting coordinators help parents avoid conflict over issues in the divorce, and this can help parents avoid conflict with their children. It can also help children understand and actually see both parents making an effort to find out what is in the child’s best interests, and this can have a lasting effect on a child’s relationship with their parents after divorce. Much in the same way that parenting coordinators can save time and thus help parents begin the healing process, children may also need to engage in a process of healing after a divorce has been completed and the utilization of a parenting coordinator allows them to do so. There are also many complex emotional issues that can arise for children during the divorce process, and parenting coordinators can help parents anticipate those issues as well as address them.
How Do You Get a Parenting Coordinator?
In a Florida divorce, a parenting coordinator is appointed by court order. A judge will issue an order requiring parties to the divorce to agree on the selection of a parenting coordinator within a specified period of time. The order will also likely specify that both parties to the divorce are financially responsible for the fees associated with enlisting the services of a Florida parenting coordinator. Once an order has been issued by a judge, parties can work together to find a qualified Florida parenting coordinator that they both agree on and enlist that person’s services. If parents are unable to agree on the selection of a parenting coordinator within the period of time allowed by the court, then the court has the ability to appoint a parenting coordinator.
Parenting coordinators are only one aspect of the custody process during a Florida divorce, and custody is only one issue related to the overall process. If you have questions or concerns regarding child custody, or if you need more information on the various aspects of the divorces process, you should speak to a Florida family law attorney that has experience working with a variety of different types of divorce cases. Contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation and start finding out more information about what divorce might mean for you as well as what the process might entail.