When in a child custody dispute or divorce involving minor children, it may be prudent or necessary to request the aid of a Parenting Coordinator. The overall purpose of a Parenting Coordinator, as described in Florida statute is to “provide a child focused alternative dispute resolution… [assisting] the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between parents by providing education, recommendations and … decisions.” Discuss with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney the involvement of minor children and the strain on the relationship between you and your coparent that may require the assistance of a Parenting Coordinator.
Before considering the involvement of a Parenting Coordinator in your case, it is important to know their qualifications as prescribed by Florida law. To be qualified as a Parenting Coordinator at minimum, they must possess the necessary professional requirements as well as keep up to date with continuing education in their field. The professional requirements include becoming a licensed mental health professional, or a licensed physician with certification by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, or be certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a family law mediator, with at least a master’s degree in a mental health field, or be a member in good standing with the Florida Bar. After meeting the professional requirements, the Parenting Coordinator must also complete 3 years of practice in their area prior to becoming eligible for appointment, a family mediation training program certified by the Florida Supreme Court, and “a minimum of 24 hours of parenting coordination training in parenting coordination concepts and ethics, family systems theory and application, family dynamics in separation and divorce, child and adolescent development, the parenting coordination process, parenting coordination techniques, and Florida family law and procedure, and a minimum of 4 hours of training in domestic violence and child abuse which is related to parenting coordination.” The law is stringent on these qualifications and will only deviate upon the consent of both parties.
A Parenting Coordinator can become involved in your case in one of two ways, via a motion by either party or a motion by the court. Many view a Parenting Coordinator in a similar way as they do a mediator. However, a Parenting Coordinator is specifically focused on mediating the issues surrounding the child and parenting plan. The Parenting Coordinator can meet with each parent and child individually, as well as together as a unit. They can provide counseling services for the family while developing the necessary plan for the best interest of the child. The Parenting Coordinator may require you to engage in communication exercises or simply ask to observe the parent child relationship. Parenting Coordinators may also seek out information from third parties regarding the children and parents to develop a comprehensive report on the family. They will also mediate any conflicts between the parties, monitor the progress of the parents and child, as well as adherence to the parenting plan. Finally, the Parenting Coordinator will create a comprehensive plan and recommendation of their findings, for the court to take into consideration. Please remember that they do not provide legal advice; they are medical and mental health professionals focused on the wellbeing of the child and not your legal rights. Finally, the costs of the Parenting Coordinators will be allocated between the parties, as determined appropriate by the court.
A parenting coordinator can greatly enhance your co-parenting relationship as well as resolve and mediate the issues surrounding the common children of the parties and the establishment of a parenting plan, while focusing on the child. Discuss the need or desire for a parenting coordinator in your specific case with your Orlando Child Custody Attorney.
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