Common Child Custody Mistakes

Some estranged spouses who find it impossible to co-parent their children are turning to co-parenting coordinators. This professional intervention is sometimes mandated by the court if parents continue to end up before a judge to resolve parenting issues. However, some seek this help on their own -- perhaps at the recommendation of one or both of their attorneys.

Role of Coordinator

A co-parenting coordinator is a psychologist or some other mental health professional with experience in these matters. He or she, for the most part, serves as a neutral mediator to help a couple resolve conflicts. However, the coordinator may make parenting decisions for the couple if they're unable to do so themselves.

The coordinator is not intended to be a long-term co-parenting aide or decision-maker. A qualified professional will give the couple the tools they need to communicate effectively and make decisions together that are in the best interest of their children without letting disagreements escalate into large-scale disputes.

Not Meant to Be a Long-Term Relationship

Even though couples can get as detailed as they choose in their visitation and custodial agreements, until those agreements are finalized, they have to make decisions on how to handle things like schooling, extracurricular activities, holidays, medical care, curfews and nearly every aspect of raising a child. Even with an agreement in place, a multitude of issues can crop up in the early months of the divorce that parents need to be able to resolve without getting their lawyers or the courts involved.

The timeline and other details of the counseling are usually spelled out by a court order or a contract. The arents generally split the cost, so it's in both of their interests to use their sessions to learn how to resolve not just immediate parenting issues but ones that will arise as their children grow up. Parents may choose or need to return to the coordinator as their children move on to later stages, such as the teen years, or encounter specific problems.

Services of an experienced co-parenting coordinator early in the estrangement can save considerable conflict, legal fees and (most importantly) stress on the children in the long run. If you believe that you and your spouse would benefit from having a professional help you with your early co-parenting decisions and provide some guidance on how to communicate with each other effectively in the future, your family law attorney can likely recommend therapists in your area.