In the most difficult custody cases parents can hire a parenting coordinator to resolve the minor day to day parenting issues for their children. A parenting coordinator will be retained by the parties or appointed by the court for a specified period of time often between 18 and 36 months. Their authority is limited to issues which facilitate a predetermined access schedule and other minor parenting decisions. Both parties will communicate their wishes to the parenting coordinator and the parenting coordinator will attempt to mediate a resolution and failing that will impose a resolution to solve the problem. Parents will usually not be allowed to communicate directly with each other during the term of the contract.
Parenting coordinators have been very successful in keeping parents out of court in B.C. but the process can be extremely costly. Each parent will have to pay one half of the parenting coordinator’s fees and the parenting coordinator will have some ability to allocate more cost to one or the other if one of the parents is prolonging a dispute or being unreasonable.
Parents typically will not agree with all of the decisions that the parenting coordinator makes but they are locked in to using the parenting coordinator until the expiry of the term of the contract. Also in B.C. a parenting coordinator’s decisions are reversible by the court and if one parent decides to challenge the parenting coordinator’s decision this can lead to expensive litigation.
The court in B.C. does have the authority under the Family Law Act to appoint a parenting coordinator without the consent of the parents.
Deborah A. Todd