A Parenting Coordinator can be assigned to your case to work with you and your co-parent in resolving anything from big-picture issues such as your overall residential schedule to smaller issues such as developing consistent house rules or communication expectations. The PC can be assigned by the Court or you can agree to use a PC without a court order. The PC will provide updates to the Court regarding how well parents are attending and cooperating, what issues the parents are generally working on, and whether the PC has any concerns or recommendations for problem-solving practices. Unlike a traditional mediator, your communications with the PC are not confidential, and the PC can be called to testify regarding your behavior and progress in PC work. Unlike a Guardian ad Litem, the PC does not file recommendations with the court regarding parenting schedules, but will instead work with the parties to educate parents regarding what type of parenting schedule is most developmentally appropriate so the parties can come to a decision as to what best suits their family and parenting style.
If the issues your family is facing deal primarily with how well you and your co-parent communicate, how often you disagree, or other co-parenting issues, Parenting Coordination is an appropriate service. If on the other hand, the issues are primarily about the child and the child’s needs (such as resolving issues with IEPs at school, resolving therapeutic issues for the child, etc.) a GAL would be a more appropriate referral.
MTLJ attorney Meri Althauser provides Parenting Coordination services in Missoula county. The process of Parenting Coordination is a non-confidential hybrid between mediation, therapy, and legal alternative dispute resolution, and can be performed by a trained attorney/mediator or therapist. It is akin to co-parenting or couples therapy post-divorce; however, instead of focusing with the PC on emotional and therapeutic issues related to the divorce, the co-parents focus on seeking out agreement and practical solutions for their co-parenting difficulties. The process usually takes 1-2 years of regular meetings with the PC in order to develop a new and effective way to communicate and problem-solve. By the end, co-parents should have a functional and tight parenting plan. When parties effectively work with a PC for assistance in working through co-parenting disputes, the dissolution process can change course from being highly litigious and polarizing to solution-focused and may even resolve without court intervention or need for attorneys on both sides. Continuation on the path or arguing and communication failures can lead instead to the need for judicial intervention at each disagreement until your children turn 18.
If you believe Parenting Coordination would be appropriate for your case and are interested in finding out more about the process and costs, please fill out our Get Legal Help form or call us at 406-356-6546 to get more information.