What Is a Parenting Coordinator (PC)?
One of the terms you might hear in the context of your divorce, post-judgment, or custody matter is “parenting coordinator” or (“PC”).
Here’s what you need to know about PCs in Connecticut.
Definition of PC
Parenting coordinators are people who help people solve conflicts around parenting issues like custody and visitation. For example, they often become involved in high-conflict cases where the two parents can’t agree on their own about parenting their children. Also, they may become involved during a divorce or custody dispute or when issues arise post-judgment.
What Does a Parenting Coordinator Do?
The purpose of a PC is often to assist co-parents in developing or managing their custody or visitation plan. Depending on how well the parents work together, the parenting coordinator may help them work through disagreements. In some cases, they may also help parents develop skills to work through future issues independently, including improving communication. A PC’s specific duties depend on the individual family’s needs and any court requirements.
Who Are Parenting Coordinators?
Parenting coordinators are professionals with special training. They are most often mental health professionals or attorneys.
How Do Parenting Coordinators Get Involved in Family Law Cases?
There are three main ways parenting coordinators get involved in a case. First, in a mediation or collaborative divorce, the two parents may decide to involve a PC to help design a parenting plan customized to their family and the specific needs of their children. In those cases, they will enter into a private agreement to involve a PC. Parents in low-conflict litigations also sometimes choose to use PCs — often by a private agreement which may also become a court order. Finally, the court may order PC use in high-conflict cases.
Are Parenting Coordinators Neutral?
Yes, Connecticut intends that the PC position be neutral. In other words, the PC isn’t like an expert hired by one side to support that side’s case.
Can a PC Change Custody?
No. Custody determinations are up to the judge.
Do Parenting Coordinators Work?
Parenting coordinators often work well. However, success depends on the circumstances of the case, including the issues at hand, the parents, and the specific skills of the PC. Parents most often find PCs beneficial when it’s their idea to work with a parenting coordinator rather than at the court’s initiation. When a PC is the court’s idea, it’s most successful when both parties are open to the process and keep their focus on the children and working together on parenting issues.
Parenting Coordinators vs. GALs
Many similarities exist between a PC and a guardian ad litem (“GAL”). For example, both focus on children and parenting. A key difference is that a PC’s main focus is helping the parents work together to create a plan or resolve disputes. A GAL’s primary focus is analyzing what’s in the child’s best interests and making recommendations to the court.
For more information about Connecticut divorce and family law, check out our Divorce Information and Facts. If you have questions or want to learn more about how our team of divorce attorneys can help you, please contact us here.