In Ontario, Parenting Coordination is a voluntary process. One party cannot retain the services of a Parenting Coordinator – both parties need to be on board. Parenting Coordination is a process in which a neutral third party facilitates divorced or separated parents in understanding and implementing their parenting plan, and/or in enforcing their court order. The parenting coordinator must adhere to the parenting plan just like the parents must do.
Parenting Co-ordinators are Alternative Dispute Resolution professionals (ADR) who are child focused; and whose role is to help parents co-parent well, so that the level of conflict is lessened. Reducing conflict is beneficial to children as research shows that it is not divorce that hurts children, but it is the level of conflict between the parents that they are exposed to which is detrimental to their well being.
The Parenting Coordinator can help families deal with a variety of issues. Commonly, the Parenting Coordinator deals with disputes surrounding parenting time, telephone access, transportation of the child(ren), child care, parenting issues, exchange of information issues, and the children’s social, emotional, academic, and medical needs.
For Parenting Coordination to be successful, both parents should have similar expectations from the process. Parenting Coordination is neither therapy nor counseling so it is not the appropriate place to bring up past marital issues.
Typically, Parenting Coordination contracts are most often contracted for a two year period as this seems to be the usual amount of time that is sufficient to get people to manage well on their own. The Parenting Coordinator’s contract must be transparent about fees. Parenting Coordinators work on a retainer system, and once the parties’ retainer runs out, hourly fees are then billed. The cost of the Parenting Coordinator’s services is shared equally between the parties in order to preserve the Parenting Coordinators neutrality.