If you and your partner have decided to separate or divorce, one of the many difficult decisions you will have to make is around the well-being of your children. Sometimes, we’ve seen partners manage to amicably resolve these issues without legal intervention. However, that is rarely the case.
Keeping your child’s life as simple and stress-free as possible after your separation is a top priority. Ensure your child has a positive and thriving life by consulting with the parenting coordinator specialists at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers today.
Parenting Coordination aims to help you master the often difficult transition from intimate partners to co-parents.
What is parenting coordination?
From where your child will attend school to whether they will be raised to hold religious values, there are many decisions parents must make regarding their child’s upbringing. These decisions are complex enough for couples in positive relationships, let alone separating couples, where emotions can run high — and parenting coordination aims to resolve this.
Parenting coordination is a non-confidential child-focused alternative dispute resolution process particularly suited to parents who have had difficulty resolving child-related disputes. Parenting coordination in Australia is a process that involves legal professionals highly qualified in family law. The parent coordinator acts as a neutral third party and assists parents in making decisions about co-parenting issues such as pick-up and drop-off schedules, how the child will be disciplined, where they will be educated and anything else concerning the child’s best interests.
The goal of parenting coordination is to reduce conflict between parents and to help them work together more effectively in making decisions about their children’s lives. Parenting coordination can be particularly helpful in high-conflict cases where parents cannot communicate effectively or cooperate with each other.
What exactly does a parenting coordinator do?
Doolan Wagner has qualified and fully trained parenting coordinators to help you resolve parental matters between you and your partner. Some of the ways we can assist your case include:
- Facilitating communication — Our experienced parenting coordinators help facilitate communication between you and your partner to ensure you can effectively discuss co-parenting issues.
- Developing parenting plans — Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers helps parents create a parenting plan outlining how they will share parenting responsibilities, including decisions about education, healthcare and visitation.
- Resolving disputes — Our team can also help parents resolve disputes related to their children, including discipline, schedules, communication and any other co-parenting issues.
- Offering expert guidance — Our parenting coordinators can guide parents about child development and co-parenting strategies to help develop your communication skills.
- Providing recommendations — We may make recommendations to the Court about how to resolve disputes related to the children or co-parenting arrangements.
- Monitoring efforts from both parties — Our team of parenting coordinators will also monitor compliance with the parenting plan to ensure both parents are meeting their responsibilities.
The types of issues a parent coordinator can help you with:
During our years as a professional family law firm, we’ve learned that no two households are the same. Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers has had the privilege of working with families of all different backgrounds and cultures, giving us a sharper understanding of the legal obligations and responsibilities parents must meet to act in their child’s best interests.
As a result, our parenting coordinators have gained experience in resolving co-parenting issues across a wide spectrum. The Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers parenting coordinators can help with:
- Custody scheduling — This can include organising “makeup” time and “swaps” between you and your partner. By working with our parent coordinators, you and your partner can enjoy a fair and equitable split, ensuring you both receive quality time with your children.
- Coordinating holidays and vacations with your ex — If you would like to take your children on holiday, we will help facilitate the conversation with your ex-partner to prevent disputes while ensuring your parental rights are maintained.
- Making travel and passport arrangements — As part of your efforts to take your children travelling, our parenting coordinators can help manage this process.
- Determining appropriate recreational activities — Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers can assist in reaching agreements with your partner about recreational and extracurricular activities, tutoring, vacation care and other school choices.
- Health management of children — This can refer to resolving disputes on where you and your partner stand regarding vaccinations, administering medications and any other issue if your child has specific medical needs.
- Religion and other spiritual guidance — We can help you successfully navigate religious observance and other spiritual education concerning your child with your ex.
- Child-rearing issues — This can refer to your feelings about body piercings, how your child presents to society, how much television or social media they consume and to what extent and more.
- Improving communication between parents — If you and your partner struggle to communicate and agree amicably, our parenting coordinators can offer suggestions for improving this.
- Handling recurring substance abuse — If substance abuse is prevalent in your family, our parenting coordinators can help manage these high-intensity situations, e.g., testing.
- Managing the roles of significant others — If there are other parental figures in your child’s life, e.g., step-parents and grandparents, Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers specialise in ensuring all involved parties clearly understand their roles in your child’s upbringing.
- Other relevant disagreements — This can refer to any other day-to-day disagreements you and your partner may encounter, including sharing children’s items.
Who is parenting coordination suitable for?
Parenting coordination can be suitable for parents who are separated or divorced and have ongoing disputes or conflicts about co-parenting their children. It can be particularly helpful for parents who:
- Have difficulty communicating with each other effectively about co-parenting issues
- Have ongoing conflicts related to parenting decisions, such as schooling, healthcare or visitation
- Are unable to make decisions together without the assistance of a neutral third party
- Have children who are experiencing stress or negative effects due to their parents’ ongoing conflicts or separation
- Are committed to improving their co-parenting relationship and creating a healthy environment for their children
However, parenting coordination may not be suitable in all cases, especially if there is a history of domestic violence, abuse or if one parent is unwilling to participate. In these circumstances, we may recommend alternative solutions based on your particular case.
When should you use a parenting coordinator?
Every parent wants the best for their children, which is why in most cases, separating parents are aware of when to consult with an experienced parent coordinator who can assist in making fair and equitable decisions. Here are some specific situations when you may want to consider using a parenting coordinator:
- Ongoing conflicts — If you and your partner are experiencing ongoing conflicts related to co-parenting decisions, a parenting coordinator can help you work through these issues and develop effective communication and decision-making strategies.
- Difficulty communicating — A parenting coordinator can help facilitate communication and ensure that you can effectively discuss co-parenting issues.
- Legal disputes — If your matter involves legal disputes related to child custody or co-parenting, a parenting coordinator can help you work towards a resolution and provide recommendations to the court.
- High-conflict situations — High level of conflict between separating parties is not uncommon. A parenting coordinator can help you develop strategies to reduce conflict and create a more stable co-parenting environment for your children.
- Children experiencing emotional stress — Divorce and separation can take an emotional toll on children, just as much as it does on parents. If your children are experiencing negative effects due to your separation, a parenting coordinator can help you create a healthier and more stable environment for them.
What’s the difference between parent coordination, family dispute resolution and mediation?
Parenting coordination, family dispute resolution and mediation are all forms of alternative dispute resolution that can help parents resolve conflicts related to co-parenting their children. However, there are some key differences between the three:
- Family dispute resolution is a broader term encompassing a range of processes used to resolve conflicts related to family law matters, not just issues regarding the welfare of a child. This can include issues such as divorce and property division.
- Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps disputing couples reach a mutually acceptable agreement across several areas of their separation. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties but instead facilitates the negotiation process.
- Parenting coordination works with parents to resolve conflicts related to co-parenting their children only. They may make recommendations, but ultimately, parents remain in control of the decision-making process. And unlike mediation and family dispute resolution, parenting coordination is not confidential, ensuring each party adheres to their responsibilities.
Parenting Coordination is a hybrid role offering:
- parent education;
- coordination and case management;
- communication oversight and skills training (may include email monitoring);
- conflict management including discussion, a form of mediation and negotiation and consensus building;
- monitoring/compliance; and
- as a last resort, providing non-binding directions.
A Parenting Coordinator can help you:
- implement your parenting plan;
- resolve urgent child issues that arise out of an Order or Parenting Plan;
- reduce conflict;
- refocus parents on their children’s needs;
- improve your problem solving skills as a co-parent;
- better communicate with your ex;
- avoid the legal system;
- fill in the “gaps” in your Parenting Plan or Consent Order.
Parenting Coordination is not:
- therapy or counselling;
- formal evaluation or investigation;
- diagnosis of psychological conditions;
- mediation (only);
- legal representation;
Parenting Coordination is different from mediation and family dispute resolution as it:
- is not a process to negotiate or develop a complete Parenting Plan or Consent Order. Family dispute resolution and confidential mediation are better suited to this; and
- is not confidential. Unlike mediation and family dispute resolution you will both be accountable for your behaviour.
A Parenting Coordinator provides a strong buffer for separating families. A Parenting Coordinator is a stabilising presence.
Parenting Coordination can reduce child stress, can improve the co-parenting relationship and can increase parental cooperation and respect.
Parenting Coordination is a good alternative to the Family Court system and can reduce the possibility of future litigation.
It promotes good outcomes for children after separation.
Who are Parenting Coordinators?
A Parenting Coordinator is a qualified professional (either a lawyer or social scientist) who has undertaken specialist post graduate training. It is important to choose a Parenting Coordinator who is properly qualified and complies with the guidelines for parenting coordination from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
Our Parenting Coordinators have an array of post graduate training and are well suited to assist you with your difficulties. Our Parenting Coordinators are available for parenting coordination in person and by telephone and zoom.
How much does Parenting Coordination cost?
The cost of parenting coordination can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, the experience and qualifications of the parenting coordinator and the case’s complexity.
Meet our founding principal, Lisa Wagner, Accredited Family Law Specialist, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, Mediator, Collaborative Lawyer & Parenting Coordinator
Lisa has close to 30 years’ experience as a specialist family lawyer. She is passionate about helping separating couples and families to achieve the best possible outcomes in an amicable manner, outside the traditional adversarial court system.
Lisa is an Accredited Family Law specialist, a nationally registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and is trained in Collaborative Family Law Practice and Parenting Coordination. With extensive experience across all areas of family law, including mediation, negotiation, parenting coordination and collaborative law as well as litigation; Lisa offers expertise, experience and empathy. Her aim is to enable separating couples to move forward amicably to live the next stage of their lives with confidence.