Florida family courts are not there all the time. They do not have the ability to watch the parents interact with their children or each other at every moment; they cannot weigh in on every possible situation; and they cannot mediate disputes that inevitably pop up between parents who are struggling with a divorce or child visitation schedules. Some might be thankful this is the case, but more and more Florida courts are turning to an intermediary known as a parenting coordinator to help divorced or separated parents deal with visitation and child care issues.
The parenting coordinator is a court-appointed mediator whose job is to try to get the divorced parents to agree on issues relating to their children. The parenting coordinator can help parents work out important details such as education and health care decisions, as well as more day-in-day-out issues like transportation and scheduling arrangements, while attempting to avert harmful or disruptive disputes. Parents must agree to work with a coordinator before a court can appoint one to their case.
Since 2009, when the Florida Legislature enacted laws to create the role of parenting coordinator, the number of such coordinators has grown steadily. There are now about 300 parenting coordinators spread throughout judicial circuits in the state, which suggests that the practice is gaining popularity.
One parenting coordinator said that many disputes between parents arise from child custody and time sharing arrangements, which can be a source of frustration and a point of contention. Child custody is often a particularly difficult aspect of divorce, but with the right attitude and the right legal representation, the desired outcome for a parent and their children is possible. The stress of divorce has well-documented detrimental effects on children, and parents are not always able to stay completely rational and cool-headed during such a tumultuous time. For these parents, a parenting coordinator may be a useful mediation tool to resolve issues relating to their children.
Source: Sun-Sentinel, "After divorce, parent coordinators mediate for children," Lois K. Solomon, July 6, 2012.