How a parenting coordinator can help dial down the temperature on co-parenting disputes.
If your co-parenting relationship with your ex is seething with conflict, lots of unpleasant confrontations or even screaming fits, a “third parent” may be just the answer. Your relationship with your ex-partner may have ended, but that doesn’t mean your co-parenting relationship stops. Depending on the age of your child at separation, you may have years to come where you and the other parent have to make decisions about things like school, medical issues, scheduling logistics, time with the other parent, tattoos, haircuts and more. When conflict runs high, a Parenting Coordinator or “PC” may be the ticket. The good news is that PCs are available in Arizona. Here is what you need to know.
Sometimes the interpersonal conflict between separated or divorced parents is simply too much of a barrier to effectively co-parent without third-party assistance. A Parenting Coordinator or “PC” is someone who can fill the gap and help you implement your parenting plan in a child-focused way. After all, hopefully that is what you both want.
The PC can provide a broad array of services to help you, including assessment, education, conflict management, dispute resolution, and, when authorized, can even break the tie on decisions. They can effectively become a “third parent”.
In Arizona, a PC can be an attorney, psychiatrist, or psychologist, or other independent professional licensed to practice in this state. A PC may also be professional staff of a court’s conciliation services department, or a person with education, experience, and expertise who is deemed qualified by the Court.
Additionally, the PC generally must meet the following training requirements as they routinely investigate and prepare reports to the court: domestic violence training, child abuse training, and ongoing refresher training every two years in each of these areas.
Yes. In Arizona, PCs must follow certain standards. See links above to Rule 74 of the ARFLP and ARS 25-406. Like other states, Arizona has taken some direction from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Guidelines for Parenting Coordination which offer general guidance on best practices for PCs. Here are the Guidelines for Parenting Coordination.
In Arizona, a court order appointing a PC is required. This may sound daunting, but it is not difficult if you and your ex agree. Two things are required: (1) You must already have a legal decision-making or parenting time court order in place; and (2) Each of you must agree to the appointment of a PC, including an agreement that the parents can afford the PC’s services, how those costs will be shared, and how long the PC will be appointed for. The Court order will spell out exactly what your PC can do. If available and requested by both of you, the Court may appoint parenting coordination assistance through the Conciliation Court in lieu of a privately paid PC. See the link above for Rule 74.
No. A PC, who is also an attorney, must be impartial. They do not represent either parent. Their sole focus is on the best interests of your child.
No. Your communications with the PC are not confidential and may be shared with other involved participants such as professionals, extended family members, and other nonprofessionals.
Yes. PCs must follow reporting requirements in their jurisdictions regarding any suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable child or adult. They must report to law enforcement or other authorities any reason to believe that a family member appears to be at serious risk to harm himself or herself, another family member, or a third party.
Sure, there are lots of other remedies, including taking advantage of the free mediation services available through the Pima County Conciliation Court. Those services are even available online. You could also ask the Court to award you sole legal decision making, but that is a whole other subject. Read our article that is helpful in explaining legal decision making.
But the best thing to do is remember five words: “best interests of the child”. Be your child’s model for consensus, consideration, and compromise. Let them learn confrontational interfacing somewhere else.