Parenting coordinators are appointed by the Court to work with parents in dissolution or paternity cases to manage the co-parenting decision-making process and work to resolve disputes between the parents. Parenting coordinators are neutral third parties who must maintain independence, objectivity, and impartiality. The parenting coordinator’s role will vary depending on the unique needs of the individual family. Parenting coordinators can help reduce litigation between co-parents in high conflict cases, or “crisis-oriented” families where agreements have been difficult to reach.
When parents are unable to make decisions on routine issues involving their children, or are unable to make simple decisions together, the Court may appoint a parenting coordinator to assist those parents in resolving their disputes. This benefits not only the Court, but works to reduce stress between the parents and reduce the impact such stress has on the children.
Parenting Coordinators have been available in Indiana for a number of years but have historically had no formal regulation in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. Effective January 1, 2017, however, the Indiana Supreme Court amended the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines to include Section V, “Parenting Coordination.” The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines therefore now provide uniform guidance on how parenting coordinators should be appointed by the Court and what the responsibilities of the parenting coordinator are.
Pursuant to the Guidelines, the role of the parenting coordinator includes assessing the family’s history of litigation; educating the parents as to the impact their behavior has on the child; facilitating conflict management between the parents; and assisting the parents in the development of parenting plans and alternative resolutions to their disputes. The objective is to give parents tools to help them move towards a lower-conflict decision-making process for the benefit of themselves and their children.
Once appointed, the parenting coordinator may review documents, speak to the parents, the Court, and if necessary, the children, and seek any records he or she believes is necessary to the parenting coordination process. The parenting coordinator may be an attorney that practices family law. However, the parenting coordinator does not act as an attorney for the parents and does not offer legal advice to the parents. The parenting coordinator will work with the parents to either obtain agreements on the issues presented to the parenting coordinator, which will be submitted to the Court for approval, or will issue recommendations to the Court for approval if the parents are unable to agree on an issue.
The attorneys at Slotegraaf Niehoff analyze our family law cases to determine whether the client will benefit from outside sources, such as parenting coordination. If you have questions about whether a parenting coordinator may be helpful for you, contact the attorneys at Slotegraaf Niehoff, P.C.