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Disposition and Parenting Coordination
Coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby the
Parenting Coordinator (PC) provides a med/arb function to resolve parental
conflict. Often the PC is brought in on cases where the parental conflict is
unremitting and the parents present with remarkably opposed views on the
matters at issue.
the introduction of service, it is the job of the PC to come to an independent
understanding of concerns based on an unbiased investigation involving both
parties either jointly or individually. Given
the contentious nature of the parental conflict, there is a good likelihood
that the PC’s learned point of view will be at odds with one or both
parents. As such, one or both
parents may take issue with the PC. This is common at least in the initial
stages of service and at times permeates the entire duration of service.
Indeed, if the PC is then called upon to resolve an issue by way of
arbitration, a parent unsatisfied with the PC’s point of view and then
decision, may seek to take the PC to task on these matters by evoking the
support of his/her lawyer.
the disposition of the lawyer can factor into the outcome of matters affecting
the children as it is noted that parental conflict alone is the most important
determinant of the psycho-social outcome for children subject to parental
lawyers who hold a litigious disposition are at risk of inflaming their
client’s discontent thus increasing parental conflict while at the same time
undermining the efficacy of the PC role and process.
lawyers, who hold a more conciliatory disposition, seeking to resolve matters
more amicably, are more likely to hold their client accountable to the process
and thus facilitate resolution and adaptation to change while still able to
scrutinize the perspective and judgement of the PC.
is hopefully understood that the role of the PC is also educative and directed
towards facilitating improved conflict resolution skills between the parents,
such that the PC service may become redundant with time. Also within that
process, it may be necessary for the PC to hold a client accountable for
untoward behaviour, such that the client learns and forms better boundaries
with regard to contrary behaviour and ultimately makes qualitative changes in
behaviour more conducive to successful parenting relationships.
a lawyer is approached by a client dissatisfied with the perspective or award
of the PC, it is suggested that prior to taking a confrontational approach
with the PC, the lawyer simply phone and discuss concerns directly. It may be
that on the basis of discussion, the lawyer is apprised of matters originating
with the client, where the lawyer may then be in a position to provide
guidance to the client to facilitate an appropriate resolution to the
complaint. It may also be the case that the PC has unreasonably aggrieved the
client and some form of reconciliation is required on the part of the PC.
approach, taken by the lawyer, role models the guidance the client would
likely be receiving from the PC. In being a role model for reasonable conflict
resolution, the lawyer is thus in a position to reinforce the education and
coaching provided by the PC. This stands in stark contrast to the lawyer whose
disposition is litigious and where the behaviour of the lawyer contributes to
delays, more heavy handed remedial action (return to court) and a resultant
intensification of parental conflict.
to improve the likelihood of a better outcome for children, the lawyers’
disposition to conflict resolution and support of the PC process will be
the basis of these matters originating with the lawyer, the PC service may or
may not be helpful and these lawyer variables should be taken into account
when the PC service is considered.
good outcome can rest as much on the disposition of the lawyer to work
collaboratively with the PC as matters originating with the clients.
For information about the Parenting Coordination service, click here:
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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