Figuring out a parenting time schedule that works can be fraught with emotions and disagreement. A court order may tell you that your child has equal time with each parent in the summer, for instance, but disputes can still arise. Whether the order setting out child-related issues is vague or tensions are just too high for parents to peacefully co-parent, a court may require parents to engage the services of an Indiana parenting coordinator to facilitate their child-related interactions.
A parenting coordinator is a neutral party who works at improving communication and managing conflict between parents to coordinate a fair arrangement that meets the approval of both parents and focuses on what is most important, which is the welfare of the child. Understanding how a parenting coordinator works and the coordinator’s role in the family can help parents move forward and protect children from adult conflict.
What Does an Indiana Parenting Coordinator Do?
You might wonder, does my case need a parenting coordinator? If you find that you have to battle to work out driving schedules or travel arrangements, you experience hostility when dealing with the other parent, you have to fight just to speak to your child on the phone, you have very different parenting styles than the other parent, or you just cannot manage to work with the other parent for whatever reason, a parenting coordinator can help remove the barriers to communication.
An Indiana parenting coordinator has multiple responsibilities. This person may be engaged jointly by the parents or pursuant to a court order. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines set out the responsibilities of this position and access to court records regarding child-related family law matters. Overall, the role does the following:
- Focuses on the needs of the child;
- Holds meetings and gathers information;
- Educates and coaches parents or those responsible for a child;
- Encourages and facilitates communication between both parents;
- Solves problems, often with creative solutions;
- Helps with choosing services providers for the children, such as medical care providers;
- Assists with choices regarding school for the children;
- Recognizes when to engage the services of areas outside the scope of the parenting coordinator role;
- Makes recommendations to both parents and the court as necessary;
- Creates workable schedules and methods for communication to ensure present and future successful interactions;
- Redirects conversations when helpful or necessary;
- Reduces agreements to writing; and
- Ensures compliance with court orders.
A parenting coordinator is required to submit reports to the court but does not make child custody determinations or other determinations such as a parenting plan. Those matters are still for the court to decide.
Successful parent coordination leads to a win-win for all involved and can result in a relatively stress-free experience for both children and parents.
Steps of Using an Indiana Parenting Coordinator
When a parenting coordinator is hired by parents or ordered in a case, the process might include some standard steps:
- Parents provide information such as a divorce settlement agreement, all relevant court orders, and any additional documentation requested;
- Parents engage the services of the parent coordinator and pay for the services;
- Everyone agrees on the method of communication for the coordination process;
- Parents and the Indiana parent coordinator participate in an initial meeting in which they identify and prioritize issues;
- Parents participate in additional meetings as needed to address child-related problems arising with the other parent; and
- With the assistance of the coordinator, the parents arrive at a clear written agreement between the parents that focuses on what is best for the child or children.
How to Choose a Parenting Coordinator
Parenting coordinators choose to be coordinators because they are genuinely interested in helping parents reach points of consensus and come to an agreement that their child is their most important consideration. An Indiana parenting coordinator may have mental health counseling experience, mediation training, coordination experience, or a law license. Many of them have a combination of these credentials.
To choose a parenting coordinator who will work best in the dynamics of your situation, many parents and the court looks for someone with a variety of skillsets:
- Communicates well with a variety of personalities;
- Manages stress well;
- Has experience in family law and parenting coordination;
- Thinks creatively and proactively;
- Takes into consideration the goals of all stakeholders;
- Has knowledge and practice with mediation; and
- Has the availability to travel if required for the situation.
Consider the Benefits of Using a Parenting Coordinator
When you agree to use an Indiana parenting coordinator, chances are you will spend less time in contentious conversations or in court and more time with your child. Parenting coordinators are engaged mostly when parents cannot co-parent without significant conflict. As a result, the engagement of a parenting coordinator almost always results in less conflict.
If you’re in a contentious relationship with your co-parent, during or after a divorce, an Indiana parenting coordinator may help limit conflict and let you focus on your children. A Carmel Fishers family lawyer at Camden & Meridew, P.C. can help you explore this and other options. To learn more about parenting coordinators or how we can help with your divorce or post-divorce matter, schedule a consultation today calling 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form.