Parent Coordination Services
What Is a Parent Coordinator?
A Parent Coordinator is an impartial person who meets specific qualifications allowing them to help parents who experience high-conflict parenting disputes and/or struggle to resolve conflict and communicate with each other. Most often, Parent Coordinators are either a mental health clinician or an attorney who has received appropriate training in parent coordination and has been given authority by the court (either by court appointment or consent of the parties) to provide these services.
Most parents strive to be the best parents they can be, but divorce and separation may make this difficult. A Parent Coordinator helps parents follow parenting plans and court orders, communicate effectively, resolve conflict, and protect their children from that parenting-related conflict. Parent coordination is not helpful nor necessary in all circumstances, so it's important to understand the process to determine if it's appropriate for your circumstances.
What is the Role of a Parent Coordinator (PC)?
Parents involved in high-conflict custody cases spend a great deal of time and money in legal disputes. Often, conflicts are about day-to-day parenting decisions and courts are unable to address these issues in a timely manner or with the nuance that parents would prefer. While it may take months to receive a court ruling, parent coordinators (PCs) offer a means to resolve these day-to-day conflicts quickly and with less expense. A PC appointment often reduces court costs and involvement for parents.
The court order appointing the PC will specify the PC’s exact authority. Generally, a PC has the power to resolve disputes that aren’t specifically addressed in the custody order, and help the parties communicate and coparent effectively. Specifically, the PC’s authority can include, but is not limited to, the following areas:
transition time, pickup, or delivery
sharing of vacations and holidays
method of pickup and delivery
transportation to and from visitation
participation in child or daycare and babysitting
before- and after-school activities
health care management
alterations in schedule that do not substantially interfere with the basic time-share agreement
participation in visitation, including significant others or relatives
telephone or video contact
alterations to appearance, including tattoos or piercings
the child's passport
other areas of specific authority as designated by the court or the parties
HOW CAN DR. TARA EGAN HELP?
Dr. Egan offers TWO primary services to support parents experiencing separation or divorce.
1. coparenting counseling
2. parent coordination services
While Dr. Egan has extensive experience in working with coparents, it's important to recognize that she cannot serve as BOTH a coparenting counselor AND a parent coordinator. Her role must be clearly defined prior to beginning your work together so that expectations and responsibilities are transparent to all parties involved.
The role of a PC is described above. In contrast, Dr. Egan's role during coparenting counseling is that of THERAPIST. The goal is to support parents as they enhance their communication skills, conflict resolution, planning abilities, and emotional responsiveness to their children. She will provide support to parents as they deal with the emotional and practical consequences of separation and/or divorce. She may also give best practice parenting recommendations if parents have different perspectives on how to best support their children.
Q: Will Dr. Egan have contact with my child(ren)?
Within the coparenting counseling relationship, contact between Dr. Egan the child(ren) may only occur by the mutual agreement of both parents. Some parents decide that Dr. Egan observing/meeting the child(ren) is helpful, as it allows her recommendations to be more personalized. Others decline this opportunity.
Within the PC relationship, Dr. Egan will arrange to meet the child(ren) a regular intervals, either in her office or within the home, at her discretion.
Q: What about confidentiality?
In the coparenting counseling relationship, all information shared will be kept confidential with the following exceptions: a) if Dr. Egan believes the client is a danger to him/herself/themselves or someone else, b) if the client gives her written permission to disclose information. Confidentiality will also be waived a) in the case of abuse to a child or an elderly person, b) if the information is court-ordered, c) in the case of a medical emergency, or d) if accusations of misconduct are brought.
In the parent coordination relationship, Dr. Egan may release any records held by the parenting coordinator to the parties or the attorneys for the parties, at her discretion. Additionally, any party may apply to the judge presiding for the issuance of a subpoena to compel production of the parenting coordinator's records. Any party who submits an application for a subpoena shall provide reasonable notice to the parenting coordinator and the parties so that any objection to the release of information or the manner of the release of information may be considered prior to the issuance of a subpoena.
Q: What are the fees associated with these services?
Coparenting counseling is billed at the same price point as the remainder of Dr. Egan's counseling services. Fees can be accessed HERE.
Because parent coordination services require more documentation and court appearances, parent coordination services are billed at $225/hour. A retainer of $3000 ($1500 per parent, unless the court determines otherwise) is required prior to the initiation of services.
Oftentimes, the court appointing the PC dictates how payment is to be made and/or shared between the parents. If a dispute arises regarding the payment of fees or the retainer, the parenting coordinator may file a fee report and request a hearing before the judge. If a party disputes the parenting coordinator's fees or the allocation of those fees, the party may file a motion with the court requesting that the court review the fees. The district court retains jurisdiction to resolve disputes regarding the parenting coordinator's fees after the conclusion of the parenting coordinator's term so long as the parenting coordinator's fee report was filed in a timely manner.
How Do I Start the Process?
Once a child custody order is entered, the court may enter an order appointing a PC at any time. The court may appoint the PC by granting a party’s motion or by the court’s own motion. The parents may also consent to the appointment of a PC.
If you feel that a PC is a good fit for your family, contact your attorney to gather more information.