Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between “Parent Coordinator,” “Parent Facilitator,” “Parenting Coordinator,” or “Parenting Facilitator”?
No. Each of those titles or terms can be used interchangeably. For the sake of consistency, this Article will refer to this group of professionals as “Parenting Coordinators.”
What is a Parenting Coordinator?
A Parenting Coordinator is a professional trained to assist parents in establishing and maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship during and after litigation.
Who can be a Parenting Coordinator?
All Parenting Coordinators must have a minimum level of education and training to qualify for the title. State law decides the specific qualifications necessary to become a Parenting Coordinator. Section 61.125(4), Florida Statutes, governs the qualifications for a Parenting Coordinator in the State of Florida.
How can a Parenting Coordinator be used?
Parents may voluntarily engage the services of a Parenting Coordinator or the court may refer parents to a Parenting Coordinator. Sometimes, even if the parents voluntarily engage the services of a Parenting Coordinator, the Parenting Coordinator may request an order referring the parties to parenting coordination be entered so the Parenting Coordinator’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Some Parenting Coordinators require a court order.
Dear Mom & Dad: Voice of the Child of Divorce
This video, “Dear Mom & Dad”, was written by Monica Epperson, founder of The Child of Divorce. Monica experienced five divorces during her childhood and started The Child of Divorce to provide resources to children who are experiencing hurtful ramifications due to divorce. Parenting coordination is a way children can have a voice in their parents’ divorce with the assistance and supervision of a trained professional.
What is the purpose of Parenting Coordination?
The use of a Parenting Coordinator is an alternative dispute resolution process. When parenting issues arise between separated or divorced parents or “high-conflict” cases that involve parenting issues, parents can seek the assistance of a Parenting Coordinator to resolve disputes instead of or prior to bringing the issue(s) to court or mediation for resolution.
Section 61.125(1), Florida Statutes, states “The purpose of parenting coordination is to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process whereby a parenting coordinator assists the parents in creating or implementing a parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of disputes between the parents by providing education, making recommendations, and, with the prior approval of the parents and the court, making limited decisions within the scope of the court’s order of referral.”
What is the Parenting Coordinator’s role?
Typically, the Parenting Coordinator’s role is to assist parents in reaching a resolution between themselves in the best interest of their child(ren). Unless the parents agree, the Parenting Coordinator’s recommendations are simply that – recommendations – and the Parenting Coordinator’s role is to facilitate communication between the parents and provide recommended resolutions to disputes as opposed to bringing the dispute to a court for resolution.
In some cases, the parents agree to make the Parenting Coordinator’s recommendations binding on themselves when they are unable to agree. “Binding” means that the Parenting Coordinator’s recommendation must be followed by the parents as if ordered by the Court. In Florida, the parents must agree for the Parenting Coordinator to have this decision making power.
How much does Parenting Coordination cost?
Parenting Coordinators typically will charge an hourly rate for their services. Often, the parents will divide the Parenting Coordinator costs equally unless there is a prior agreement or a court order specifying a different division of the costs. Depending on the facts of the case, the parents may split the Parenting Coordinator’s fees on a pro rata basis based on the parents’ income or one party may pay all of the fees, but these types of fee divisions will depend on the facts of the case. The matter of the fee division usually must be determined by the parents or court prior to the parents beginning their work with the Parenting Coordinator.
Under Florida law, a court may not order the parents to parenting coordination without their consent unless it determines that the parties have the financial ability to pay the parenting coordination fees and costs.
Normally, the costs associated with using a Parenting Coordinator will be less than using attorneys and bringing the issue before a judge to decide, but this will depend on the nature of the dispute and the facts of the case.
Is Parenting Coordination confidential?
Under Florida law, yes, with limited exceptions as provided for by law. Section 61.125(7), Florida Statutes, outlines the confidentiality and exceptions to confidentiality for Parenting Coordinators in Florida. This can be a major benefit of using a Parenting Coordinator.
Are Parenting Coordinators required to report emergency situations to the court?
Florida law requires Parenting Coordinators to report to inform the court by affidavit or verified report without notice to the parties of an emergency situation if any of the following circumstances exist:
(1) there is a reasonable cause to suspect a child will suffer or is suffering abuse, neglect, or abandonment as defined by law;
(2) there is a reasonable cause to suspect a vulnerable adult has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited as defined by law; or
(3) a parent, or someone acting on a parent’s behalf, is expected to wrongfully remove or is wrongfully removing the child from the jurisdiction of the court without prior court approval or compliance with statutory relocation requirements. If the Parenting Coordinator suspects that the parent has relocated within the state to avoid domestic violence, the Parenting Coordinator may not disclose the location of the parent and child unless required by court order.
See Section 61.125(8), Florida Statues, for more details.
How can I find out if Parenting Coordination is right for me or my case?
As with all aspects of your case, be sure to speak with your Florida family law attorney regarding parenting coordination.
Where can I read more about Parenting Coordinators?
Section 61.125, Florida Statutes, is the statute governing Parenting Coordination. You can read the full text of the statute on the Online Sunshine website. You may also like to visit the links below for your judicial circuit.
Links for Parenting Coordinators by Judicial Circuit in Florida (content currently being updated)