In Indiana, the court may order divorcing parents to enter into parenting coordination. This process is a form of dispute resolution that focuses on the children in hopes that the parents can find a way to work together during co-parenting. The court most often requires parenting coordination in high conflict divorce proceedings and will appoint a trained professional, known as the parenting coordinator, to facilitate the process. The coordinator is often either a lawyer or a mental health professional who has gone through special training, including training in mediation.
Resolving disputes around parenting time
A parenting coordinator can help you keep your focus on your children and their best interests while discussing custody and parenting time matters. The coordinator will meet with both parents, acting as a neutral third party to help work through the issues that are causing problems. Indiana has recently updated its parenting time guidelines with a push toward shared parenting. This means that the law favors a strong and healthy relationship for children with both parents. Without a very good reason, such as abuse or neglect, the court will expect any parenting time plan to encourage such a relationship. The parenting coordinator will help the family figure out the best way to achieve that goal.
In a required parenting coordination process, if you and your ex cannot reach an agreement, the coordinator may make a recommendation to the court without you. This is never the goal, but in some situations, a couple simply cannot come to an agreement. The court will consider the coordinator’s recommendation and create a custody plan for you.
Anyone can use a parenting coordinator
Although the court may require a parenting coordinator in certain circumstances, any divorcing couple can hire one to help them resolve parenting issues. They may also want to use one to help them develop a strong co-parenting plan together. As trained mediators, they can help you find common ground and keep your focus on your children, rather than your own disputes. Many divorcing couples find that the parenting plan that they come up with themselves tends to work better for their families than the one the court develops.
Parenting coordinators can work through the parenting schedule every 6 months for the upcoming 6 months and discuss the day-to-day details of the parenting plan like holidays and extracurricular activities, that often Courts are not able to address in a timely manner or as they arise. Parenting Coordinators also help implement the Court Orders in place and offer suggestions around communication between the parents and with the child. Professional coordinators understand the common problems families face and may offer solutions you would not think of on your own. A parenting coordinator can also recommend and coordinate outside therapy for the children or parents.