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Mediation with the Children in Mind: The Role of the Parenting Coordinator


Brian James, President of C.E.L Associates

There is a relatively new emphasis in Divorce Mediation and related court proceedings-the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator to ensure that the best interests of the children remain paramount. You may think that the best interests of the children have always been the highest priority of divorce actions, but sadly, sometimes it is not. Courts have recently seen the need to intercede, especially in high-conflict families, in order to remain vigilant about the children's well being. To help ensure the compliance with the parenting plans and to assist with any problems that arise between the parents, the court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator, typically a Divorce Mediator or Mental Health Professional with child development knowledge as well as mediation skills, to focus on what is best for the children when the parents disagree and are unable to resolve the issue themselves.

The issues that Parenting Coordinators address are often day-to-day parenting issues rather than purely legal issues. For instance, time and place for visitation exchange, changing daycare or schools, holidays and paying for the children's activities. It is important to note that Parenting Coordinators, while working with the court, have no authority to alter or change custody arrangements, unless it has been agreed upon that they have this power. Unfortunately, parents often used these non-legal issues to seek revenge or antagonize their former spouse and ultimately wreak havoc on their children.

The appointment of a Parenting Coordinator is especially useful in high-conflict families where the divorcing couple is clearly acting in a punitive manner. Each instance of contact, such as in transfers and attendance at children's school or sports events is an opportunity for parents to act inappropriately or antagonistically. Each of these potential confrontations can be prevented or mitigated by careful planning, counseling, and intervention.

In many ways, the Parenting Coordinator acts as a Guardian Ad Litem, in that their decisions and recommendations are made from the perspective of a child's emotional safety and security. The Parenting Coordinator allows couples to avoid litigation to resolve these issues and reduce the costs of their divorce. Additionally, parenting coordination can continue after the divorce is finalized, sometimes until the child turns 18. A Parenting Coordinator saves not only money, but allows time-strapped courts and judges to avoid time-consuming litigation on non-legal parenting issues.

The value of Parent Coordinators is gaining wide acceptance and Judges are turning to Parent Coordinators more and more in an effort to diffuse high-conflict and emotionally charged divorces and protect the most innocent of all parties-the children


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian James, President of C.E.L Associates, focuses on helping divorcing couples end their marriage as amicably as possible. His organization handles mediations for all family and community disputes. They are conveniently located throughout the Chicago suburbs and offer services in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. Brian strictly adheres to mediation services that are professional and maintain the utmost confidentiality for all clients. Helping people resolve their disputes in a non-adversarial way, Brian saves wear and tear emotionally and financially.

He can be contacted by phone at (312)524-5829 or or Visit Web Site



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