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Parenting Coordinators and Their Role in Florida Family Law

When a couple divorces in Florida while their children are minors, the goal of the family court system is to help them continue to have healthy relationships with their children, even after the parents are no longer married to each other. Unfortunately, child custody is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce, and one of the most difficult to resolve without resorting to litigation. A judge ruling in favor of one party or the other is a last resort in family law cases, though, especially when it comes to deciding which parent spends how much time with the children.  Florida courts strongly prefer that parents come to an agreement about their parenting plan before they go before the judge; this way, the judge is simply approving an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. Parenting coordination is a type of alternative dispute resolution, similar to mediation, that can help parents agree on the details of their parenting plan.

Parenting Coordinator Requirements

The parenting coordinator is not a judge, and he or she is not simply any unbiased third party.  The educational requirements for parenting coordinators in Florida are quite strict. To be a parenting coordinator, you must have a medical degree and be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, or else you must hold a master’s degree either in family mediation or in a mental health field. You must have three years of professional experience working as a psychiatrist or mental health professional. You must complete a family mediation training program, in addition to a parenting coordinator training program; the latter program includes 24 hours of classroom instruction. Having previously been found guilty of child abuse or domestic violence disqualifies you as a parenting coordinator. Additionally, parenting coordinators must keep what is said at parenting coordination meetings confidential, and they must avoid conflicts of interest with any parties involved.

Do You Still Need an Attorney?

Parenting coordination is much less expensive than litigation, but it is not free. At the same time, while parenting coordinators know a lot about the emotional well-being of children and parents after a divorce, they are not lawyers. Divorce without lawyers is not possible for most couples.  Even the simplest divorces, in which the couple does not have children together and has very little in terms of marital assets, sometimes require the services of one or more lawyers.

While a parenting coordinator certainly has an informed opinion about what is in the children’s best interest and how to set and achieve goals based on that, a parenting coordinator’s advice is not really a substitute for professional legal advice. For one thing, parenting coordinators only help with agreements regarding the parenting plan.  hey do not deal with division of property, which is often the second most controversial issue in a divorce after issues related to parenting.

Contact Alan Burton About Child Custody Cases

Before you meet with a parenting coordinator, it is a good idea to discuss your case with a family law attorney. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida for a legal consultation.

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