Blog & Resources

Nov 29, 2014

Who is a Parenting Coordinator in BC?

Nov 29, 2014

Who is a Parenting Coordinator in BC?


 

A parenting coordinator is usually a senior family lawyer or a psychologist/counsellor who has a child focused program to help parents reach agreements when disputes arise. If an agreement can’t be reached, the parenting coordinator can make binding decisions or adjudicate the dispute. Parenting coordinators must be certified as per the Family Law Act Regulations. Parenting coordinators are usually appointed for 2 years at a time.

The entire purpose of appointing these lawyers or mental health professionals is to take disagreement out of the court and give the decision making to an individual who can make decision on behalf of the parents if need be.

For a list of qualified parenting coordinators, please click here

What Can a Parenting Coordinator Do?

The BC Family Law Act specifies two main things parenting coordinators can do:

  1. To assist (see below for more detail)
  2. To make decisions (see below for the kinds of decisions a parenting coordinator can make)

What Can a Parenting Coordinator Assist With?

The parenting coordinator can often work like a mediator to try and get you and your spouse come to a consensus with respect to your children. They help you with:

  • building consensus,
  • creating guidelines respecting how an agreement or order will be implemented,
  • creating guidelines respecting communication between the parties,
  • identifying, and creating strategies for resolving, conflicts between the parties, and
  • providing information respecting resources available to the parties for the purposes of improving communication or parenting skills;

What Can a Parenting Coordinator Determine or Decide?

A parenting coordinator can make decisions regarding any of the following:

    • a child’s daily routine, including a child’s schedule in relation to parenting time or contact with the child,
    • the education of a child, including in relation to the child’s special needs,
    • the participation of a child in extracurricular activities and special events,
    • the temporary care of a child by a person other than:
      • the child’s guardian, or
      • a person who has contact with the child under an agreement or order,
    •  the provision of routine medical, dental or other health care to a child,
    • the discipline of a child,
    •  the transportation and exchange of a child for the purposes of exercising parenting time or contact with the child,
    • parenting time or contact with a child during vacations and special occasions, and
    • any other matters as agreed by the parents or the parenting coordinator

What Can’t a Parenting Coordinator Do or Decide?

A parenting coordinator cannot do the following:

  • change the guardianship of a child,
  • change the allocation of parental responsibilities,
  • give parenting time or contact with a child to a person who does not have parenting time or contact with the child,
  • Make a substantial change to the parenting time or contact with a child, or
  • Make decisions regarding relocation of a child.

Should You Hire a Parenting Coordinator?

Lets look at the Pros and Cons:

Pros of Hiring a Parenting Coordinator

  • Less expensive: You won’t have to spend $5000+ on court litigation in case of disagreement over your child;
  • Experience in Family Law: Family lawyers can be more experienced than some judges who do not have as much experience in family law. So, a judge may have a lot of experience in corporate law and not family. Having a family law parenting coordinator ensured that you deal with someone who has substantial knowledge and experience in family law and may make informed decisions;
  • Avoiding Court: you  will avoid court which can be a traumatic experience for many people.
  • Getting to Know You: They will get to know you and your case over time. Often in court the judge has no idea who you are and reads affidavits in order to make decisions. It’s always better to have face to face contact before making major decisions relating to children.

Cons of Hiring a Parenting Coordinator 

  • They charge a rate: usually their rate is between $300 to $400 an hour whereas going to court, at least you do not have to pay for the judge’s time;
  • Their decision is open to challenge through the courts: So if the parenting coordinator rules in your favour, your spouse may challenge that ruling in court. This doesn’t happen often however, because people do not have the time or money to keep on challenging everything. Once a decision is made, people usually just accept, adapt and move on.
  • Term of appointment is 2 years and it is difficult to terminate it if you do not like your parenting coordinator.

So should you hire a parenting coordinator? It is always better to speak to a BC family lawyer to see if that is a good way to go versus negotiation, court, mediation or arbitration. For more information, contact our award winning family lawyers at 604-974-9529 or get in touch.