Parenting Coordination

Overview

Parenting coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which mental health or legal professionals with mediation training and experience assist high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner, educating parents about children’s needs, and with prior approval of the parties and/or the court, making decisions within the scope of the court order or appointment contract.

The parenting coordinators appointed through the Orange County Parenting Coordination program have agreed to work at reduced rates to help those parents who cannot afford the fees charged by private parenting coordinators (see “Fees” below).

Effects of High Conflict Divorce

The impact of high-conflict divorce on children can be devastating, traumatic, and extremely stressful.  Children can survive divorce; however, they cannot survive unharmed by the drawn-out, chronic, high-conflict fighting that occurs between parents in a difficult divorce.  Chronic fighting between the parents can erode the relationship between children and one or both parents, and children who experience high conflict divorce can suffer serious psychological and social problems.

Objective of Parenting Coordination

The overall objective of parenting coordination is to assist high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan, to monitor compliance with the details of the plan, to resolve conflicts regarding their children and the parenting plan in a timely manner, and to protect and sustain safe, healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships. Parenting coordination is a quasi-legal, mental health, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that combines assessment, education, case management, conflict management and sometimes decision-making functions.

The Parenting Coordinator role is most frequently reserved for those high conflict parents who have demonstrated their longer-term inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own, to comply with parenting agreements and orders, to reduce their child-related conflicts, and to protect their children from the impact of that conflict.

Parenting Coordination Referral Process

The request for appointment of a parenting coordinator must be made either by motion of a party, joint motion by both parties, or on the court’s own motion.  The motion by the party(ies) must be filed with the Clerk of Court and served on the other party(ies). Neither the Administrative Coordinator for Parenting Coordination nor any employee of the Dispute Resolution Services department should be served with the motion.  The motion must specifically request that the appointment of the parenting coordinator be made through the Orange County Parenting Coordination Program.

Note: Florida Statute §61.125 requires certain findings to be made by the court before an appointment of parenting coordinator can be made. A hearing is necessary so these findings can be determined, and the hearing should be scheduled by the parties or their respective attorneys. The Orange County Parenting Coordination Program Referral Checklist , Section A, must be completed prior to the hearing and presented to the court during the hearing to assist in ensuring that all the requisite findings are made. The Checklist must be approved by the court. Attorneys and parties are strongly encouraged to read both Florida Statute §61.125 as well as the Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.742.

After the hearing, the court will send the Referral Checklist to the Administrative Coordinator of the parenting coordination program who will then prepare the Order of Referral and select the next available parenting coordinator. The parenting coordinators will be selected on a rotation basis. Neither the parties nor their attorneys will select the parenting coordinator nor prepare the Order of Referral. The final Order of Referral to Parenting Coordinator will be mailed out to all parties.

Fees

The current retainer through the Orange County Parenting Coordination program is $500.00 per party. The retainers being charged by private parenting coordinators range from $1,000 to $2,000 per party or more. The current hourly rate through the Orange County Parenting Coordination program is $80.00 per hour. The hourly rates being charged by private parenting coordinators range from $125 to $275 or more. Our program offers services at a substantially reduced rate compared to that of the private sector - which is very beneficial to parties who just cannot afford private parenting coordinators.

Location

Parenting coordination sessions can be held in person, over the phone, or via email or other electronic media.  The in-person sessions are often held at the parenting coordinator’s office; however, some sessions (as determined by the parenting coordinator) are held in rooms provided by Dispute Resolution Services located in Room 120 of the Orange County courthouse.  Child care is provided through A Place for Children located in Room 270 of the courthouse for parties who need this service.  Call A Place for Children at (407) 836-2108 for more information.

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