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Florida Parenting Coordinator Rules — Sotero v. Sullivan (Part III)

Parts I and II of this post went over some of the rules for parenting coordination, in particular some of the points of contention raised in the brief Sotero opinion, and that come up frequently in cases in Broward and Palm Beach counties also. Now the issue is how important are the rules, or rather how important is it if for the focus to not be on the legal rules once parenting coordination sessions start. I don’t think there is much disagreement with the idea that it is good to make the ground rules for parenting coordination clear at the beginning, in a Court order if there is one, and in a Parenting Coordination agreement between the parents and the parenting coordinator, so that everyone is clear regarding confidentiality, how the process works, fees, the goals, etc.

However, instead of or perhaps in between the worries and concerns regarding the rules, or legalities or what’s fair to one parent or the other, there have to be moments when there’s a focus on finding some small steps one or both parents can take to bring about even minor improvements or decreases in conflict, or increases in the period of time between difficulties. The small step might be something that has worked in the past, or a small adjustment that brings about a change in the way things unfold. This may sound far fetched as a way to improve a highly conflictual situation, but if you’re in a situation where it seems the conflict goes on and on, and nothing has worked, it might be worth going along and giving something else a try.

One of the hallmarks of a parenting coordination approach, I believe, is that it’s not really an “insight” oriented process. It’s not psychoanalysis where you’ll focus on your childhood, your “psyche”, etc., but one issue worth considering is whether one or both parents is holding onto the conflict between them, because there is some alternative that is worse. It can also be important in parenting coordination when progress seems stalled, for all of the participants to remember that the primary focus is on what’s good for the children, even though a solution or compromise, or taking a few days to think about an alternative, might not feel good for one or both parents at that moment.

The above is mostly focused on situations where there is very high conflict and things aren’t working very well. Parenting coordination is also useful where the parents simply want additional help working out the details of a Parenting Plan, time-sharing, etc, in a forum that allows time to address these topics in more detail. Parenting Coordination is a forum where there’s also an opportunity for the Parenting Coordinator to bring in any professional experience or opinions he or she has regarding time-sharing schedules, for example, that tend to work best for children the age of the children in the case, or to try to drawn on any available research results that can help the parents come to a decision about what is best for their children. In some respects, it’s going to a “specialist” in Parenting Plans.

I think a lot of it comes down to the relationship you’ll have with your Parenting Coordinator. You’ll want to develop a positive relationship where you’re working together for the most part, moving forward – there are always some problems, sidetracks along the way. You’ll also, though, want the Parenting Coordinator to feel free to let you know when he or she disagrees with you, and thinks something else might work better for you and the children.


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