January 1, 2015/by Bob Raymond
Happy New Year!
A time of fresh starts and new beginnings. A time for optimism and seeing new possibilities for yourself and your loved ones. What better way to start the New Year than making a commitment to your child(ren) — committing time and energy to providing a loving environment with reduced stress and conflict.
Parenting Coordination offers an opportunity to achieve an improved life for you and your child(ren). Let’s start with acknowledging the major change that has occurred. You are no longer together with your partner/spouse. What was once a loving and harmonious relationship has become strained due to separation/divorce and difficulties which have occurred with co-parenting your child(ren). You are caught in a tug of war — ongoing conflicts about differences in how you parenting your child(ren). Quite possibly old dynamics are at play causing serious disruptions to you and your child(ren).
Rather than continue an outdated, time consuming, cumbersome and expensive process of going to court to have a judge make decisions about your family conflicts, you can engage in the Alternative Dispute Resolution process (ADR) known as Parenting Coordination. A Parenting Coordinator (PC) is a mental health professional (in some cases you may work with an attorney) who is specifically trained to to work with separated/divorced parents who are in conflict over child rearing issues and decisions. The goals of the process include: 1) de-escalating parental conflict; 2) prioritizing the child(ren)’s best interests; 3) promoting the child(ren)’s optimum adjustment; 4) resolving issues and disputes in a time and cost effective manner; and 5) having parents benefit from the direction of a qualified professional.
Your PC will have relevant knowledge in areas of child development, family dynamics, and the effects of separation/divorce on children and adults. Your PC will be experienced in working with high-conflict families, and will offer strategies for reducing conflict. Your PC may make recommendations and in some cases decisions after hearing from all parties that have direct knowledge of you and your child(ren)’s needs and functioning. Typical matters which may be addressed in the PC process may include: (A) time, place, and manner of pick up and delivery of child(ren); (B) child care arrangements including participation in day care and babysitting; (C) minor altercations in parenting schedules with respect to weeknight, weekend, or holiday parenting time that do not substantially alter the court-approved parenting plan; (D) parenting issues related to bedtime, diet, clothing, recreation, and discipline; (E) selection and scheduling of after school and enrichment activities; (F) schedule and conditions of telephone time with child(ren); (G) health care management; and (H) introductions and visits with significant others, friends, and/or relatives. Many other areas may be covered in your work with a PC, and these areas may be spelled out in a court order, or may be identified as you work together in the PC process.
The PC process is guided by ethical and professional standards that have been developed by organizations and associations focusing on children and families experiencing conflict. The American Psychological Association (APA) has specific guidelines and an approved policy for Parenting Coordination, as does The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). You may work with your PC for a short amount of time or for an extended period, based on your particular needs of your situation. Financial arrangements are made directly with your professional PC usually based on an agreement that includes a retainer fee and an hourly fee for service.
FamiyKind has a staff of highly qualified and diverse professionals who can help guide you towards achieving greater harmony and less conflict when it comes to the needs of your child(ren.) Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have or for more information.
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Bob Raymond, Ph.D., is a psychologist and parenting coordinator. Learn more