Now that we have parenting arrangements, how can I make sure that we stay on track?
Parenting disputes, particularly those that have involved lengthy litigation, often involve high levels of entrenched conflict. Even after an agreement is reached by consent, and almost always after a final trial where a judge has decided a matter, disagreements between the parties often continue into the future.
Parties can disagree over both minor and major matters for months or even years after a parenting agreement has been reached. Not only does this mean legal fees continue to increase, oftentimes the conflict worsens and poor behaviours that began after separation and during the legal battle become the norm. While hostility and disagreements are terrible for parents, children exposed to ongoing conflict between their parents and carers suffer significant long-term effects to their mental health functioning and academic achievement.
Common in America and Canada, parenting coordination is now becoming popular in Australia. Parents can choose to engage a parenting coordinator at the initial stages of their separation, during the negotiation process or after agreement has been reached. The Family Court of Australia can order parents to engage a parenting coordinator to assist them to manage conflict, and hopefully avoid further litigation.
As children get older, a parenting coordinator can help parents discuss and decide on new arrangements to meet their children’s changing needs.
Parenting coordination is combination of legal, mediation and mental health processes which involves assessment, education, management, conflict resolution and assistance in decision making. Sometimes, the parenting coordinator is authorised by the court to make decisions for the parties if they cannot agree. Usually, the parenting coordinator is either a lawyer, mental health professional or family dispute resolution practitioner.
If the court orders that the parties engage a parenting coordinator, the scope of their duties will be determined by the court. If the parenting coordinator is organised by the parents, then the parents will decide the scope of their engagement. Duties can include assisting parents in dealing with day-to-day issues such as clarification of what orders mean, giving guidance about minor issues like changeovers, return of children’s items at changeover, attending functions or when time restarts after holidays. A parenting coordinator can assist in developing systems for the movement of belongings between the households, managing homework and extracurricular activities. They can monitor communications between parents, and step in to resolve deadlocks, while ensuring parents remain civil and polite and their communication is productive.
Sage Family Lawyers work with several highly respected parenting coordinators to ensure our clients get the assistance they need to make their parenting arrangements work.