How Do I Hire a Parenting Coordinator?

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Who should hire a parenting coordinator?[edit]

A parenting coordinator can be helpful for families in which the parents have a history of high conflict, repetitive disagreements on parenting decisions, and/or the inability to cooperate on guardianship issues. Most separating parents do not need a parenting coordinator if they have a demonstrated ability to solve parenting disputes by agreement.

Parents who find themselves in court frequently asking a judge to make ordinary parenting decisions are the parents who would benefit most from parenting coordination.

A parenting coordinator may be engaged by agreement or by order of the court and can be given authority to make specific classes of parenting decisions if the parents cannot agree. In addition, a parenting coordinator can be given authority to settle specific questions (for example, choice of school) or to resolve disputes about section 7 expenses. (See the chapter Child Support Guidelines to learn what section 7 expenses are.)

When should you hire a parenting coordinator?[edit]

Under the current law, a parenting coordinator can only be appointed when there is a parenting plan in place as an order of the court, or which is included in a written agreement of the parties.

Parenting coordinators cannot make fundamental changes to a parenting arrangement, such as guardianship terms, residency, or significant changes to the parenting schedule. A parenting coordinator can make adjustments to the parenting schedule and assist with routine parenting decisions, such as extra-curricular activities, participation in special events, routine medical interventions, travel protocols, handling of child-related documents, and settlement of disputes over holidays.

Parenting coordinators can help resolve problems about parenting disputes, help parents to communicate more effectively, and coach parents to try and resolve problems themselves. If, with the parenting coordinator's help, the parents are not able to resolve a parenting dispute, the parenting coordinator has the power to make a decision for the parents on issues within the parenting coordinator's authority.

How do you pick a parenting coordinator?[edit]

The BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society website lists members alphabetically. It tells you the location of each member's practice, their profession (whether lawyer, psychologist, registered clinical counsellor, social worker, or mediator), and usually there is a link to the member's website.

When you've found a few candidates that look suitable, give them each a call or send an email to inquire about availability, rates, and general approach. You may be able to arrange a preliminary meeting, but be prepared to pay the parenting coordinator’s rate for that meeting. Some candidates offer a free initial consultation, but you should confirm this first. You aren't obliged to hire the first person you meet; wait until you've spoken to someone you feel comfortable with and who you think the other parent might listen to.

When talking with potential parenting coordinators, ask about:

  • their current workload,
  • when the parenting coordinator will be available to help,
  • their hourly fees and retainer requirements, and
  • the manner in which their work is done, for example: personal meetings, email, or video chat.

Typically, the contract with a parenting coordinator is for two years and the fees are split equally between the parents, with discretion to the parenting coordinator to adjust the fees to ensure fairness and compliance with the process.

How do you hire a parenting coordinator?[edit]

Finding an available parenting coordinator is relatively easy. The common challenges are:

  • getting the other parent to agree to try parenting coordination, and
  • finding a parenting coordinator the other parent will agree to.

In most cases, it's helpful to suggest a list of two or three candidates, ask the other parent if they have their own list (or, out of fairness, if they would like to create one), and try to pick one that you can both agree on.

If there is no agreement on using the parenting coordination process or on whom to appoint, it will be necessary to make an application to the court and have the court decide.

For more information[edit]

You can find more information about parenting coordination in the chapter Resolving Family Law Problems out of Court.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Morag Macleod QC, April 8, 2019.

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Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court," and "Supreme Court of Canada."

A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court, and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a family court proceeding. The Family Court of the Provincial Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."

A lawyer or mental health professional with special training in the mediation and arbitration of family law disputes, family dynamics, and child developmental psychology who meets the training and experience requirements set out in the provincial Family Law Act Regulation.

A person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government, or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal.

A child-focused dispute resolution process used to resolve disputes about parenting arrangements and the implementation of a parenting plan set out in a final order or agreement. See "alternative dispute resolution" and "parenting coordinator."

A mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision," and "declaration."

Section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines deals with "special and/or extraordinary expenses". These are often referred to as "section 7 expenses," and are paid in addition to the "basic child support" amount. Basic child support does not always include infrequent but expensive costs related to children, such as the cost of daycare or orthodontic work. In addition to the basic amount of support payable, the parents may also be required to cover their respective portions of these other expenses, so long as they qualify as special and/or extraordinary expenses under the Guidelines.

A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."

A resolution of one or more issues in a court proceeding or legal dispute with the agreement of the parties to the proceeding or dispute, usually recorded in a written agreement or in an order that all parties agree the court should make. A court proceeding can be settled at any time before the conclusion of trial. See "action," "consent order," "family law agreements," and "offer."

In law, a judge's conclusions after hearing argument and considering the evidence presented at a trial or an application; a judgment; the judge's reasons. A judge's written or oral decision will include the judge's conclusions about the relief or remedies claimed as well as their findings of fact and conclusions of law. A written decision is called the judge’s "reasons for judgment." See "common law," "conclusions of law," and "findings of fact."

A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."

In family law, the natural or adoptive father or mother of a child; may also include stepparents, depending on the circumstances and the applicable legislation; may include the donors of eggs or sperm and surrogate mothers, depending on the circumstances and the terms of any assisted reproduction agreement. See "adoptive parent," "natural parent," and "stepparent."

The act of hiring of lawyer; the money paid to a lawyer to secure their services; the terms and extent of a lawyer's services on behalf of a client.

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