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==Introduction==
 
==Introduction==
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Parent Coordination
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Introduction
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When parents have a Separation Agreement or Court Order that establishes a parenting plan, but they are still fighting over the details, they may agree, or be Ordered by the Court, to have a Parenting Coordinator to assist them in resolving those issues instead of repeatedly coming back to Court.  Parenting Coordination is a child-centered dispute resolution process aimed at high conflict personalities.
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Parenting coordination uses aspects of mediation and arbitration to resolve disputes about parenting, once the parties have reached a final order or agreement dealing with parenting arrangements and contact. Parenting coordination is only useful for parents who seem to always find themselves arguing about parenting despite their order or agreement. Parenting coordination is not for people who don't argue about parenting or who are able to resolve their disagreements without intervention.
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'''What a Parent Coordinator Is'''
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A parent coordinator (PC) is a lawyer or mental health professional (psychologist, counsellor, social worker, family therapist) with specialized training in family law,  mediation, arbitration, communications skills development, high confict family dynamics  and child development . Parent Coordinators are members of the BC Parenting Coordinators  Roster Society [http://www.bcparentingcoordinators.com/ BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society] and governed by the Society as well as the Family Law Act[[Family Law Act]], and the Family Law Act Regulations[http://canlii.ca/t/8rdx Family Law Act Regulation].
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Parenting coordinators are family law lawyers, mediators and arbitrators, counsellors, social workers and psychologists with special training in mediation, arbitration, parenting coordination, family violence, communication skills development, and high-conflict family dynamics, as required by the [http://canlii.ca/t/8rdx Family Law Act Regulation]. Parenting coordinators are hired on a long term-basis, for renewable terms of between six months to two years.
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'''What a Parent Coordinator Does'''
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The parent coordinator provides  parties who cannot agree on aspects of parenting with a relatively quick and informal way to resolve their disputes.  Regardless of how detailed a parenting plan or order may be, some parents will always find things to argue about and it is the children who pay the price for this kind of parental behavior.  A parent coordinator may be useful in minimizing that conflict by attempting to educate the parents on how to manage conflict in a healthy way.  If that doesn’t work the PC will mediate or, as a last resort, arbitrate the dispute between the parents. The long term goal of the PC is to enable the parents to parent in a healthy and supportive way, without the need for Parenting Coordinators or  frequent applications to Court, although that goal may not be
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attainable for some parents.  
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Once a parenting coordinator has been retained, either parent may ask the parenting coordinator to resolve a dispute. The parent with the concern will contact the parenting coordinator and explain the problem and his or her preferred solution. The parenting coordinator will discuss the problem with the other parent to get his or her perspective on the issue and will then work with both parents to find a resolution everyone can agree to. However, if the parents can't reach agreement or if the issue is very urgent, the parenting coordinator may arbitrate the dispute and impose a resolution. This process repeats whenever a new issue arises that needs to be resolved.
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Some examples of what a PC may do are:
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-deciding extra curricular activities and how they will be paid
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-deciding what school the child will attend
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-determining if a child needs tutoring, therapy or medical treatment
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-arranging parenting time for special events
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-deciding how a child’s belongings should be distributed between his or her parents’ homes
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-deciding the specifics of parenting time if the Agreement or Order is more general (for example the agreement says the parents will share time approximately equally but doesn’t say exactly how)
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Parenting coordinators and the parenting coordination process are governed by the ''[[Family Law Act]]'', the [http://canlii.ca/t/8rdx Family Law Act Regulation] and the codes of conduct and practice standards established by any practice group a parenting coordinator may belong to, such as the [http://www.bcparentingcoordinators.com/ BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society].
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'''What a Parent Coordinator Doesn’t Do'''
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A parent coordinator does not;
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-make original orders for Parenting Time
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-make decisions changing custody or guardianship agreements or orders
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-deal with property division, spousal support, or child support (with the possible exception of special expenses) .
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===What parenting coordination deals with===
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'''How the Parent Coordinator Works'''
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The PC is appointed by agreement or court order. An agreement or order appointing a parenting coordinator should specify who is being appointed; a list a of parenting coordinators is available at the website of [http://www.bcparentingcoordinators.com/member-roster/ BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society].
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Because the PC role is relatively invasive in a family’s  life, some PC’s offer an opportunity for the parents to have a relatively short meeting  with him or her to meet each other and discuss the role, prior to the formal appointment, either at a fixed cost or no cost.
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Once the parents and the PC agree, they will enter a Parenting Coordination Agreement (live link to agreement at Roster Society site)  which sets out  in some detail  what the  PC will do, how it will be done, the cost and how it is to be paid.  The agreement also provides for the term of the arrangement.  It may be as short as 6 months  but most PC’s will require that the term be at least 12 to 24 months with an opportunity for the parents to renew the contract if the PC remains willing.  Most PCs will require a retainer and/or a deposit of $5000 to $10,000 and up.  The parents must each then pay their share of the parenting coordinator's retainer. As with a lawyer, the retainers paid to the parenting coordinator are security for the parenting coordinator's future bills. When such bills are issued, parenting coordinators will pay themselves by drawing on parties' retainers.
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Parenting coordination addresses how final orders and agreements about parental responsibilities, parenting time and contact are interpreted and implemented. Although parenting coordinators also have the authority to make <span class="noglossary">minor</span>, usually temporary, changes to those orders and agreements, parenting coordinators do not have the ability to make changes about important issues like guardianship or the allocation of parental responsibilities.  
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Some parenting coordinators will also ask for an additional retainer, called a deposit. This money is held in reserve to enable the parenting coordinator to finish dealing with a problem in the event that a party's retainer runs out in the middle of a dispute and the party refuses to replenish his or her retainer. PC’s charge by the hour for all time spent working with the family so they are very expensive.  They may be cheaper in the long run than paying lawyers for numerous applications to Court but they may be  more expensive than most families can afford.
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Parenting coordinators can also deal with <span class="noglossary">minor</span>, often temporary, issues that aren't covered by an order or agreement, like:
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Depending on the circumstances and the age of the children, the parents may also be asked to sign a number of consent forms giving the children’s doctors, care providers, teachers, therapists and any other relevant people, permission to discuss the family with the PC.
 
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After the Agreement has been signed and the retainer paid,  the parents usually have some issues which have accumulated and the PC will then meet with the parties, usually in person and usually together, at least for the first meeting.  The PC may also meet with the children and any other people, such as teachers, therapists or doctors who may be helpful.
*the arrangements for a special event,
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  The PC will attempt to educate, mediate, and as a last resort, arbitrate, the resolution of the issue. As other issues develop, the same process applies. Some issues may be resolved relatively  quickly by phone or email, other issues will require in person meetings.
*the distribution of a child's clothing and toys between homes,
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Either or both  parents may  bring an issue to the PC for resolution. Although the PC has no power to force anyone to do anything, it is worth noting decisions of PCs may be enforceable by the Court.  Parents who fail to meet their obligations under the PC agreement or fail to attend meetings arranged by the PC may be penalized in costs and their lack of cooperation  may be reported by the PC to the Court.==Enforcing a determination===
*where a child will go to school,
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*the child's need for counselling, therapy, or tutoring, and
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*the child's participation in sports and other extracurricular activities.
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Parenting coordination also tries to address some of the problems that contribute to the parties' disagreements. This might include helping the parties to work on how they communicate with each other or how they manage conflict, or it might include helping the parties better understand how their children experience their conflict.
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===What parenting coordination might deal with===
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Parenting coordination usually does not deal with child support or children's special expenses. However, if the parents and the parenting coordinator agree, the parenting coordinator may assist the parents with things like:
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*reviews of child support, where the review is required by an order or agreement,
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*deciding which expenses qualify as a special expenses, and
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*determining the amount of each parent's contribution to the children's special expenses.
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Many parenting coordinators won't address these issues. The parenting coordinators most likely to agree to address issues like these are parenting coordinators who are also family law lawyers.
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===What parenting coordination won't deal with===
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Parenting coordinators cannot assist with any subjects that are expressly excluded by an order or a parenting coordination agreement. As well, parenting coordinators cannot deal with:
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*the division or possession of property or the division of debt,
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*appointing or removing a guardian of a child,
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*changes to the allocation of parental responsibilities between guardians,
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*giving parenting time or contact to a person who does not have parenting time or contact,
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*substantial changes to parenting time or contact, and
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*the relocation of a child.
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Parenting coordinators should not help with a person's entitlement to receive spousal support, problems with the payment of spousal support, or changing an order or agreement about spousal support.
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==The parenting coordination process==
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Parenting coordinators are hired by the agreement of the parties or a court order. Orders for the appointment of a parenting coordinator can be made under s. 15 of the ''[[Family Law Act]]'' with or without the agreement of the parties. An agreement or order appointing a parenting coordinator should specify who is being appointed; a list a of parenting coordinators is available at the website of [http://www.bcparentingcoordinators.com/member-roster/ BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society].
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===Signing the parenting coordination agreement===
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First, the parties and their parenting coordinator will sign a parenting coordination agreement that talks about the scope of the parenting coordinator's services and authority, how parenting problems will be addressed, and how the parties will manage the parenting coordinator's fees. In general, the parenting coordinator's fees will be split equally between the parties, unless they agree otherwise or unless the parenting coordinator has a good reason to assign responsibility for a certain amount of fees to a particular person.
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It is always helpful if the key terms of the parenting coordination agreement are set out in the order or agreement appointing the parenting coordinator, including:
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*the scope of the issues the parenting coordinator may address, and any specific issues the parenting coordinator must address,
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*a description of the dispute resolution process, including the parenting coordinator's capacity to arbitrate a dispute in the event that consensus cannot be reached,
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*confirming that the parenting coordination process is not confidential,
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*the length of the parenting coordinator's retainer, and
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*the circumstances in which the parenting coordinator can withdraw or be terminated from a case.
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Many parenting coordinators use the signing of their parenting coordination agreements as an opportunity to have the parties execute releases and authorizations allowing the parenting coordinator to speak to people like the children's doctors, counsellors, and teachers. Section 16 of the ''[[Family Law Act]]'' says this:
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<blockquote><tt>A party must, for the purposes of facilitating parenting coordination, provide the parenting coordinator with</tt></blockquote>
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<blockquote><blockquote><tt>(a) information requested by the parenting coordinator, and</tt></blockquote></blockquote>
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<blockquote><blockquote><tt>(b) authorization to request and receive information, respecting a child or a party, from a person who is not a party.</tt></blockquote></blockquote>
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===The retainer and deposit===
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The parents must each then pay their share of the parenting coordinator's retainer. As with a lawyer, the retainers paid to the parenting coordinator are security for the parenting coordinator's future bills. When such bills are issued, parenting coordinators will pay themselves by drawing on parties' retainers.
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Some parenting coordinators will also ask for an additional retainer, called a deposit. This money is held in reserve to enable the parenting coordinator to finish dealing with a problem in the event that a party's retainer runs out in the middle of a dispute and the party refuses to replenish his or her retainer.
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===The introductory meeting===
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Next, the parenting coordinator will meet separately with each party to explain the parenting coordination process in more depth and take a detailed history of the parties' relationship and proceedings in court. Depending on the age of the children, the parenting coordinator may  want to meet the children as well.
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Once these introductory matters have been taken care of, either party can bring a parenting problem to the parenting coordinator when a problem arises. Parenting coordinators will often deal with dozens of these disputes during their retainer.
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===Dealing with disputes===
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Where there is a problem, the parenting coordinator will listen to the party raising the issue and then contact the other party to get his or her take on things. Depending on the nature of the parties and the nature of the problem, the parenting coordinator may:
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*meet with the parties separately or together about the issue,
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*interview the children to get their input on the issue,
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*speak to the children's counsellors, doctors, teachers, instructors, or coaches, and
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*speak to any other <span class="noglossary">third party</span> who may have helpful information about the issue.
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====The consensus-building phase====
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Except in cases of real urgency, the parenting coordinator will try to resolve the dispute by attempting to help the parties reach their own agreement on this issue, much in the manner of a mediator. This process can take time and requires lots of communication. As a result, when an issue is genuinely urgent, the consensus-building phases may be shortened or skipped altogether.
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Most parenting coordinators will do everything possible to help the parties reach a settlement of a parenting dispute. Imposing a resolution on a dispute should be a last resort only.
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====The determination-making phase====
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When settlement is impossible, or if a problem is urgent and must be dealt with quickly, the parenting coordinator will make a <span class="noglossary">decision</span>, called a ''determination'', resolving the problem, much in the manner of an arbitrator. The parenting coordinator will warn the parents when it becomes necessary to make a determination, and, depending on the time available, will make sure that each party has provided all of the information and arguments they wish to provide and has had the opportunity to address the information and arguments provided by the other party.
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The parenting coordinator's determination will be given to the parties in writing, even if the parenting coordinator first made his or her determination orally. This is a written statement of the determination and the reasons for that determination.
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===Enforcing a determination===
      
Parenting coordinators' determinations may be enforced by filing them in court, either under Rule 12 of the [http://canlii.ca/t/85pb Provincial Court Family Rules] or Rule 2-1.1 of the [http://canlii.ca/t/8mcr Supreme Court Family Rules].
 
Parenting coordinators' determinations may be enforced by filing them in court, either under Rule 12 of the [http://canlii.ca/t/85pb Provincial Court Family Rules] or Rule 2-1.1 of the [http://canlii.ca/t/8mcr Supreme Court Family Rules].

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