While some divorces are painless, other high-conflict cases have such intense hostility that proper communication is impossible. Thus, a neutral third party must step in to help them resolve issues.
By its own motion or at the request of either parent, an Indiana court appoints and orders a parenting coordinator (PC) to act in the child’s best interests. The professionally trained PC may be a lawyer, a mental health expert or any individual satisfying the court’s discretion. Their initial term of service must not exceed two years. Service extension, modification and termination are possible, depending on reasonable causes.
As the state’s law leans on building a consistent and healthy relationship between parents and their child, the PC’s role proves critical in protecting parental rights and the child’s welfare.
A parenting coordinator’s responsibilities
The PC’s primary duty is to implement and abide by the terms of the court-ordered parenting coordination agreement. Aside from reviewing the family history and other relevant documents, they also have the power to:
- Adhere to existing protective orders
- Facilitate conflict management and parenting plan discussions
- Make recommendations to the court on potential dispute resolution methods
- Educate both parents on how constant disagreements influence their child’s development
- Report a crime, child abuse or neglect, or any activity negatively impacting their performance
However, the extent of a PC’s authority also has limitations. First, they cannot provide legal advice. They must also be impartial throughout the process by not engaging in dealings that can pose a conflict of interest. Instead, they must advise the court of potential disputes. Further, they cannot have one-sided communications with the child, parents or the court, as the process does not keep privileged or confidential transactions.
Finding common ground
Ultimately, a parenting coordinator shares a common goal with all divorcing parents of upholding the child’s best interests. While their functions may be beneficial, consulting with a legal representative to identify which conflict areas may be applicable for a PC intervention will be wise.