By Robert M. Hack, President of Associates In Divorce, PLLC
A Parenting Coordinator lessens the damage to our children of highly contentious – litigative parents. It is well known in professional circles that highly conflicted divorce cases are generally due to mental issues, commonly known as Personality Disorders, e.g., Borderline, Narcissistic and Histrionic Personality Disorders which often result in false allegations of sexual or physical abuse, resulting in alienation from their children and disorientation of the parent-child relationship a.k.a. “Divorce Poison,” which in itself is a form of child abuse. A Parenting Coordinator needs to be used when Mediation has been unsuccessful. Usually when this occurs the Court assigns a Parenting Coordinator (P.C.). A Parenting Coordinator is defined as a third impartial person that helps the parents to implement their Parenting Plan. Hiring a P.C. is excellent, provided the P.C. has been well trained in the field of Parenting Coordination.
The recommended Parenting Coordination certification requirements should be 28 hours of High Conflict Divorce Training, Advanced Training, certified Divorce Mediation Training, a licensed mental health or legal professional specializing in areas relating to families, and should have practical experience with high conflict divorces for a minimum of three years (1). We have learned that when working with this most difficult clientele we need to set and maintain clear boundaries regarding our roles and interventions with our clients for this process to work.
In order to have success with these types of cases there needs to be a Parenting Coordination Order in place that has some “teeth” to it, i.e. sanctions to the non-compliant party. Judges are unable to provide sanctions when a P.C. Order does not include them. When P.C. Orders do not have sanctions, as one of my colleagues stated, “I have found when Courts are unwilling to enforce Orders, parents (rightly) get the message they can do what they want without consequences.”…”It’s ultimately the Court’s responsibility to provide consequences when parents sabotage one another, and if this is not happening what real chance of success are you looking for?”(2) “The Judge and the attorneys have to ‘sell’ the concept of Parenting Coordination to the parents.”(3)
Some professional circles are concerned about the additional cost of using a Parenting Coordinator when realizing the expenses incurred during their client’s prior failure to reach agreements during the litigative – adversarial process. However, the costs for using a Parenting Coordinator, when using a robust enough P.C. Order with sanctions, are minimal When you consider that preliminary evidence shows that Parenting Coordination works! A study found that Parenting Coordination reduced the average number of actual Court visits from six per case to 0.22 in one year.(4), If you want to advocate for children and have successful divorce cases with high conflict couples, then the use of a Trained Parenting Coordinator is the best solution.
(1) A.F.C.C. Task Force training requirements and ethics.
(2) Aaron Robb, of Forensic Counseling Services, Keller, Texas, from the AFCC list serve
(3) Hugh E. Sterns, JD, Circuit Judge in Florida.
(4) Terry Johnston, PhD., 1994
/FMC 2019 R M Hack, all rights reserved, No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission