Working with high conflict personalities, I have always been open to approaches that can manage difficult issues with HCPs (High Conflict Personalities), without necessarily involving the courts every time there is a dispute, or transgression by a HCP. One way of dealing with difficult personalities in divorce is to have a Parenting Coordinator involved in the case. What is a Parenting Coordinator (PC) ? Essentially, a PC acts as a middleman, referee, and dispute resolver. The PC can make recommendations to a solution for a disputed issue. In other words, the PC can act almost as a magistrate for the judge, and help the Court manage these difficult issues without court involvement. Because the PC acts almost like a magistrate judge, some judges in the Family Courts do not like to appoint PCs, believing that they are essentially usurping the function of the judge. However, for certain cases, it is my opinion that a Parenting Coordinator can be a valuable tool and resource in managing issues that arise with a HCP.
Parenting Coordination began gaining recognition in the 1990s as a result of presentations and trainings first offered at conferences such as the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) and by experienced Parenting Coordinators. Initially there were variations in role, source and degree of authority, and practice in different jurisdictions, and different titles were used to describe this innovative intervention model, including Special Masters, Co-Parenting Facilitators, or Mediator/Arbitrators. In 2003, AFCC appointed an interdisciplinary task force to develop Guidelines for Parenting Coordination to guide mental health professionals, mediators, and lawyers with respect to training, practice, and ethics (AFCC, 2006).