What is Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordination is a dispute resolution process focused on your children.
If your children are exposed to ongoing conflict during or after your family law proceedings, divorce or separation,
they can have poor future outcomes in education, social lives, health and future relationships.
The goal of Parenting Coordination is to assist you and the other parent or care-giver to transition from being former partners in dispute,
to becoming effective co parents; to focus on your children’s needs, rather than your anger towards each other.
This is achieved through various methods including education about appropriate post-communication strategies,
assistance with communication and managing disagreements about the interpretation of family law court orders or parenting plans.
It may include monitoring email communication and coaching you to use more appropriate language.
Parenting coordination can assist in case managing parenting disputes after orders have been made,
rather than you returning to the Family Court to deal with breaches of orders or contravention applications.
Often, it is the day-to-day disagreements about changeover times (when do the school holidays actually start?), sharing of children’s items and decisions about extracurricular activities, organising swaps of weekends and so on
that cause parents the most conflict after orders or parenting plans have been made.
Parenting Coordination teaches both parents how to make decisions together about those issues
and reduces the daily conflict that can arise about issues or everyday decision-making.
The process can help you manage changes to decision-making responsibilities after orders have been made
and reduce the likelihood of your children being caught in conflict.
Ultimately, the goal is to assist both parents over time, to communicate well with each other,
with low conflict and without the need to return to lawyers, mediation or the Family Court.
How is Parenting Coordination different from Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution?
Parenting Coordination is not a process to develop a parenting plan or negotiate changes to existing orders.
Those matters are appropriate for Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution.
Where Mediation is confidential, the Parenting Coordination process, if it has been ordered by the Court or if the parties agree, is a non-confidential process.
You will both be held accountable for your behaviour in the process
to ensure that the process is one that moves your family away from high conflict communication and towards co-parenting.
What a Parenting Coordinator is not
Whilst Parenting Coordinators bring their professional skills to their work, in the Parenting Coordination process,
they are not an investigator, arbitrator, mediator, counsellor, lawyer, family report writer or family dispute resolution practitioner.
If those professionals have previously worked with your family, it is not appropriate for them to be your Parenting Coordinator.
Why should we use the Parenting Coordination process?
The Parenting Coordination process:
assists you to resolve your disputes outside of the family law courts, reducing expensive legal fees
helps your family through disagreements and conflict
reduces the harmful effects of conflict, which can threaten the well-being and future outcomes of your children
reduces the likelihood of future contravention applications by dealing with misunderstandings and filling in the ‘gaps’ in orders or parenting plans
reduces the need for ongoing involvement of your lawyers having to help you resolve disputes about the interpretation of your family law orders or parenting plan
Who are Parenting Coordinators?
A Parenting Coordinator is a qualified professional (either a lawyer or social scientist) who has undertaken specialised training in Mediation and Parenting Coordination. It is important to choose a Parenting Coordinator who is properly qualified and complies with the Guidelines for Parenting Coordination from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
Our Principal Parenting Coordinator is Jennifer Hetherington.
She is an experienced Collaborative Lawyer, Nationally Accredited Mediator and a Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
Jennifer is trained in Parenting Coordination by Parenting Coordination Australia under the guidelines of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC).
She is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Graduate Diploma – Family Dispute Resolution Practice.
Jennifer is available for Parenting Coordination in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne and online via video-conferencing.
Anne-Marie Cade is a Parenting Coordinator based in Victoria. She is trained in Parenting Coordination by the High Conflict Diversion Institute.
She is a Nationally Accredited Mediator, Registered Family Dispute Resolution, a Divorce and Parenting Coach and a Family lawyer.
Anne-Marie has completed a Master of Laws in Family Law and Dispute Resolution.
She is available for Parenting Coordination across Victoria including Melbourne, Geelong, Frankston, Mornington, Bendigo and Ballarat
and online via video-conferencing.
What exactly does a Parenting Coordinator do?
Your Parenting Coordinator will assist you by educating both parents about the developmental needs of your children,
the effects of the separation on family members, co-parenting and communication between parents or care-givers.
Your Parenting Coordinator also monitors your responsibilities and obligations under your court orders or parenting plan,
assisting you to effectively work through your parenting arrangements and spend more time focusing on your children,
not arguing with the other parent.
Your Parenting Coordinator will use their conflict resolution skills to assist you to resolve disputes about your orders or parenting plan,
reducing the risk for future parental conflict.
When should we use a Parenting Coordinator?
A Parenting Coordinator may be ordered by the court or agreed in circumstances which can include:
You are experiencing ongoing disagreements or arguments about the implementation of orders, parental responsibilities or obligations
There is a history of ongoing conflict between you which has had (or is likely to have) a negative impact on your children
The parenting schedule in the family law orders or parenting plan requires frequent adjustments or is unclear
Your child has a medical or psychological condition or disability that requires frequent decisions to be made about their treatment
How much does Parenting Coordination cost and who pays?
Parenting coordination is usually conducted as a 90 minute session, once a month for a period of up to 2 years.
The process can be terminated earlier if the parties agree.
Parenting Coordination sessions cost $250 plus GST per parent.
Costs are usually shared but different arrangements can be agreed or ordered, based on your financial circumstances.
Financial sanctions are imposed on parties who cancel sessions without sufficient notice, to ensure the other parent is not financially disadvantaged.
How do I appoint a Parenting Coordinator?
A Parenting Coordinator can be appointed by a Judge on Application, or by parents in a Parenting Plan or Consent Order.
Download a template for a Parenting Coordination Order for Australian family law matters.