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Law Offices Of David Bliven
Law Offices Of David Bliven
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The Role Of Parent Coordinators & Facilitators

The Role Of Parent Coordinators & Facilitators Lawyer, White Plains CityThis article explores the role of parent coordinators and facilitators in New York divorces. This special mediator role can be vital in providing guidance to divorced parents, but it is important to understand what they can, and cannot, do for you.

This article discusses:

  • How the role of Parent Coordinators and facilitators is defined in New York.
  • How parent coordinators and facilitators can resolve disputes and improve communication.
  • The qualifications required to become a parent coordinator, and how to choose one.

What Are Parent Coordinators And Parent Facilitators In New York State?

Divorce is always a difficult time, doubly so for parents. That is why some will call on the services of a parent coordinator to help handle some of the touchier topics.

A parent coordinator or facilitator, however, is not the same as a mediator. Unlike a divorce mediator, a parent coordinator is only allowed to discuss matters of child custody and visitation. On the other hand, unlike a mediator, the coordinator’s role can be more proactive and they can make strong recommendations, rather than just listening and helping the parents arrive at a compromise by themselves.

That said, the role of a parent coordinator is limited. Unlike a mediator, they cannot help with any financial issues whatsoever. So if child support, alimony, or asset distribution comes up during the discussion, they will not be equipped to handle that at all. The other main limitation is that the parent coordinator or facilitator’s role is dependent on the initial divorce settlement agreement between the parents.

How Is The Role Of A Parent Coordinator Or Facilitator Defined During A Divorce?

Unlike a mediator, whose role is always to help parties come to an agreement, a parent coordinator’s role is defined during the divorce settlement agreement.

A parent coordinator or facilitator can be empowered by the divorce settlement to make decisions on behalf of the parties. The exact degree of this will depend on the drafting and wording of the divorce settlement, but this means that the coordinator can be given any degree of power from recommendations only to binding decisions both parents have agreed to follow.

While they can never be given the power to discuss or decide on financial matters, (or really any subject beyond custody and visitation matters), their ability to decide matters for both parties can be made stronger than that of a mediator.

How Does A Parent Coordinator Or Facilitator Make Decisions About Child Custody Or Visitations?

In a situation in which the parent coordinator has been empowered to make decisions after a divorce there are a number of steps they will take to ensure it is the best possible decision:

  • The parent coordinator will often start by meeting all the parties involved.
  • They may also get in touch independently with any healthcare, childcare, or mental health professionals if they are relevant to the particular decision.
  • They will review any documents that are relevant to the particular decision,

Once they have covered all the information and background required, they will be able to make an informed decision, always with the best interest of the child in mind. If it is a joint custody dispute, they will usually make a recommendation to the parties (often in writing) so that the parents can be guided by that decision.

If the agreement between the parents has empowered the coordinator, then their decisions are to be implemented. No agreement however can make the coordinator’s recommendation binding, so if one party adamantly disagrees with it they can try to persuade a judge to rule otherwise.

On the other hand, if the agreement is deferred to the coordinator, whichever parent disagrees with their recommendation is going to have a tough time arguing to the judge that it should not be followed. Though if you ever do find yourself in such a bind, having an experienced and qualified lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

Most of the time, however, a parent coordinator or facilitator will be able to have a significant positive impact on post-divorce disputes over child custody or visitation and can be a useful tool for moving forward with the child’s best interest in mind.

How Does The Parent Coordinator Help Resolve Disputes And Improve Communication Between Parents Involved In A Family Law Matter?

One of the very first things that any parent coordinator is going to do is discuss everything with both parties. Nowadays this is often done via Zoom, but sometimes it can be more helpful to conduct in person, as it is the first step towards a proactive and positive resolution.

Since the goal of the parent coordinator is to resolve the dispute, the first step is to review it, and, especially if it is a post-judgment issue, to get as broad a view as possible of the full context. Whether the parent coordinator is new to the case or familiar with it, they will often start with several key questions to get all of the relevant background information:

  • Were there domestic violence issues raised and or sustained at the trial level?
  • Were there drug and alcohol issues raised or sustained by the judge?
  • Did one party or the other have a mental illness?
  • Was there a forensic psychological evaluation done?

Sometimes the parent coordinator may need to go beyond just asking, however, and do some digging of their own. For example, they might need to make an application to the judge so that they can receive the forensic report that was done during the divorce so that they can be better informed in terms of making decisions, especially if they are empowered to make decisions for the parties.

Being fully informed, after all, is the foundation of good decision-making, and the parent coordinator will always want to make the best possible recommendation for you, and most importantly, your child(ren).

How Long Will A Parent Coordinator Or Facilitator Take To Make Their Decision?

Given the breadth of information required to come to a decision, a parent coordinator may require more than one session. This is especially true if either party held back in terms of providing all relevant information beforehand.

However, unlike a full-blown mediation which will also need to cover financial issues, a parent coordinator’s more limited scope allows the process to go faster. Because they are deciding or recommending on a very limited issue or set of issues, a parent coordinator will generally only need two or three sessions.

What Are The Qualifications Or Credentials Required For Someone To Become A Parent Coordinator In Family Law?

The exact qualifications or credentials required to become a parent coordinator or facilitator does vary somewhat based on the county or judicial district. Generally, however, they are required to receive a specific certification, and once they do, they will be on a court-certified list.

Just as each county or judicial district will have a court-certified list of mediators, if they differentiate between mediators and parent coordinators, they will have a separate list for them. In the counties where they do not, if someone is certified to be a mediator, they’re also presumptively certified to be a parent coordinator. Now that’s the court list.

The court list, however, is just the list of coordinators or mediators which the court may assign. Any mediator or attorney who has undergone the appropriate certification from a mediation training organization could be hired independently as your coordinator. Usually, this is done through a 48 or 60-hour course that covers the legal, practical, and psychological background for the coordinator role.

This certification is important, however, as you do not want someone unqualified to handle such delicate yet important matters without the necessary training. That is why you should always ask where a prospective mediator or coordinator you are considering receiving their certification from, or better still, ask to see it directly. If they cannot produce it or give you the name, that is a bad sign, and you should probably move on to a new family law attorney.

After all, given the role and responsibilities of a parent coordinator or facilitator, you want the most qualified, unbiased, reliable, and experienced family law attorney to handle your case.

For more information on Parent Coordinators & Parent Facilitators, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (914) 362-3080 today.

Law Offices Of David Bliven

Call Now To Schedule A 20-minute Case Assessment
Or Full 50-minute Case Strategy Consultation!
(347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080