In England, you are likely to be familiar with friends or family who have accessed a form of dispute resolution, such as mediation or collaborative law, as a means of obtaining professional support through their separation. In other countries around the world, such as many states in the US, Canada and South Africa, separating parents will also be familiar with a service called parenting coordination or “PC”. PC is another form of dispute resolution available to help parents, and particularly for those who find parental communication a real challenge.
In 2018, the FLiP Faculty trained the first cohort of parenting coordinators for England and Wales and so, for the right families, PC may well be a support process they wish to consider. PC is available to help parents who have already put together their own parenting agreement, or who have in place a child arrangements order from the court. A parenting coordinator has multiple roles, the overriding aim of which is to help parents implement the terms of their parenting agreement or court order, being mindful, at all times, of the wishes and feelings of the children.
Parenting coordinators might help you to:
identify and unbundle your communication styles;
look at ways of hearing one another more effectively;
communicate more constructively and compromise effectively;
think about the impact of your communication styles on your children, and help you to understand what the research tells us about how children are impacted by parental conflict.
Parenting Coordinators are there to support you, and provide you with an outlet that may well have been missing when you went through difficult child related court proceedings. If you can’t agree to a particular aspect of your agreement or order, and it is open to interpretation, a parenting coordinator might also make a decision about that one area of disagreement so that you are able to regroup and move forward positively.
One of the main differences between a mediator and parenting coordinator is that mediators follow your lead and support you to have the conversations that you want to have. In contrast, PCs are a firm and guiding hand, who will set the agenda for meetings and guide you more supportively through the process until such time as you are able to take more of a joint lead yourselves.
There is now a website dedicated to PC, which gives you more information about the process, and how it might help your family and which contains lots of tips and guidance: https://parentingcoordinators.co.uk. Our dedicated parenting coordinator is Claire Molyneux. You can contact her for more information either by telephoning her on 03443 276260, or sending an email: email@example.com.