In any situation where parents share custody, the potential for conflict is often high.  It can often be difficult for parents who have separated or divorced to agree on what is best for their children. Many times, pre-existing difference between the parents can become magnified as they argue about discipline, religion, activities, sports, medical care and schedules. However, the parents must still communicate in order to successfully co-parent their children and manage their shared custody arrangement. In these cases, a parenting coordinator can help to smooth the rough edges in communication between parents and help make sure that the children are happy and healthy.  

What A Parenting Coordinator Does

In Florida, a parenting coordinator may be an attorney, but he or she does not represent either parent.  Instead, the coordinator works as an impartial third party to help reduce conflict over parenting decisions.  The coordinator’s ultimate goal is helping the parents to work together in the best interest of their children.  He or she monitors communication between the parents, and advises both parties on how to improve the way that they communicate with each other.  The coordinator may offer temporary solutions to parenting issues in emergency situations, oversee compliance with written agreements and court orders, and help parents interact in a more effective way.

Florida Law on Parenting Coordination

In Florida, parenting coordination is governed by law.  The goal of a parent coordinator is “to provide a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process.”  In other words, parenting coordination aims to protect and sustain safe and healthy parent-child relationships by reducing conflict between the parents.  Parenting coordinators must be any of the following:  

  • An attorney in good standing with the Florida Bar
  • A Florida Supreme Court family law mediator
  • A certified physician with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • A mental health professional

Additionally, a parenting coordinator must complete specialized training:

  • Three years post-licensure or post-certification practice
  • A family law mediation training program certified by the Florida Supreme Court
  • A minimum of 24 hours of parenting coordination training in a variety of parenting and family law procedural areas and a minimum of four hours of training in domestic violence and child abuse education related to parenting coordination

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Benefits of Parenting Coordination Services

Numerous studies have shown that conflict between parents can be extremely detrimental to children.  It can lead to a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems in children, including:

  • Headaches and stomachaches
  • Personality changes
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Bed wetting or accidents
  • Academic issues
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low self-esteem

These issues can have a serious impact on the children’s lives, and can last into adulthood. The effects of high conflict parenting on children demonstrates the need for a well-trained neutral third party to help parents communicate better, resolve their issues, and work together in the best interests of their children.

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Parenting Coordination Attorneys in North Florida

At Fournier Law, we are proud to provide parenting coordination services to help families in high conflict shared custody cases. Patricia Fournier was the first lawyer appointed as a parenting coordinator in the Second Judicial Circuit in Florida. She has been performing the duties of a parent coordinator for years, since her appointment by the Leon County Circuit Court prior to the enactment of the parenting coordination law in October 2009. Ms. Fournier has provided parenting coordination services to dozens of families over the years, during litigation and after litigation in high conflict cases. She offers her services to any family who seeks to protect their children from parental disputes in shared custody cases. Contact our office to learn more about parenting coordination services.