Parenting Coordinators Purpose and Use
The Court has great discretion in appointing a parenting coordinator (PC) and may appoint a PC on its own volition to assist the parties in resolving parenting issues. However, in appointing a parenting coordinator the Court must make specific findings that the case is a high-conflict case or there is good cause shown for the appointment of a parenting coordinator and the appointment is in the best interest of the child(ren). If domestic violence has occurred during the course of the parents’ relationship, the victimized parent may file a written objection to the appointment of the PC. Upon filing of the written objection, the Court may not appoint a PC, unless after a hearing the Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the evidence does not support the objection.
The PC’s duties are limited to matters that will aid the parties in:
- identifying disputed issues;
- reducing misunderstandings;
- clarifying priorities;
- exploring possibilities for problem solving;
- developing methods of collaboration in parenting;
- understanding parenting plans and reaching agreements about issues to be included in a parenting plan; and
- complying with the court’s order regarding conservatorship or possession of and access to the child.
The PC is required to submit a written report to the court and to the parities as often as ordered by the court addressing whether the parenting coordination should continue. Note that the PC may not modify any order, judgment, or decree. In a pending suit, if an agreement is reached by the parties with the PC’s assistance, the agreement must be reduced to writing, signed by the parties and their attorneys, and filed with the court.
In appointing a PC, the court must find that the parties have the means to pay the PC’s fees. Allocation of the fees between the parties is done at the court’s discretion. Although public funds should not be used to pay for a PC, the court may appoint a domestic relations office or a comparably county agency to serve as a parenting coordinator.