Parent coordination is a relatively new process in British Columbia. It is for what we call "high conflict" cases. When we have high conflict situation, involving a parent coordinator is a way to, at least partially, end the stress. It is a way of having decisions about your kids being decided when you and the other parent cannot reach an agreement.
Meet Tony. Tony and Catherine are the parents of two little kids, Holly who is seven and Adrian who is nine. Tony wanted to share the parenting of Holly and Adrian on an equal basis with Catherine. Catherine is not over her hurt from hers and Tony's separation three years ago. Catherine does not want the children to have a relationship with Tony. Because Tony and Catherine could not agree, they went to court. After a five-day trial in Supreme Court, one of our Supreme Court Judges determined that Catherine and Tony will share parenting of the children on an equal basis.
Tony was so relieved. He thought his problems were over and that he could get onto his part of the job of raising and enjoying their children.
Unfortunately for Tony, (and in particular, unfortunately for Holly and Adrian), Catherine will not let her fight with Tony go. Rather than just accept the shared parenting order of the court, she continues to fight with Tony every step of the way.
This has resulted in the children not being registered in any activities because Catherine and Tony will not agree as to what activities are in the children's best interest. When there is a special occasion, Tony and Catherine cannot agree on how to amend the schedule. They cannot agree on whether or not the children should be in French immersion. They can't agree on where to pick up and drop off the children during transfers of parenting time. This whole situation has been tedious and exhausting for both parties. Plans for Holly and Adrian's are often at a standstill because their parents cannot agree on even the simplest of matters. Tragic, we know.
Although it is a relatively new process for family law in British Columbia, parent coordination has been used extensively with great results elsewhere.
Rather than go back to court for every little thing (which has been happening), or just be stuck in a stalemate, Tony has requested that parent coordination can be utilized for their family. It is for people when they would rather not go back to court (or would rather not even go to court in the first place).
A parent coordinator is like a privately paid judge. A professional (such as a lawyer or psychologist after they have had certain training and additional qualifications) can take on the role of being a parent coordinator.
Because the new BC Family Law Act focuses on parents avoiding the court process, this process has been on the rise. You can contact a parent coordinator by contacting the BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society. Now, instead of bringing their many disputes to court, Tony and Catherine bring their disputes to their parenting coordinator who first tries to work with them to come to an agreement, but then makes a decision if Tony and Catherine still refuse to agree.
One thing Tony has noticed is that because Catherine has to pay her share each time they utilize their parenting coordinator, she has started to reach an agreement with Tony on some matters. Now Holly and Adrian are less involved in an embittered battle between their parents. It is a win/win all around.
Maybe you already have an agreement that says you are supposed to make parenting decisions by consulting with the other parent. Maybe there is a court order that says you are to consult with the other parent, and you have to come up with an agreement. Maybe you are stuck. If so, maybe parent coordination is for you.
By Val Hemminger, lawyer at Hemminger Law Group Westshore
Hemminger Law Group Westshore - Lawyers with heart! Providing Family law and Personal Injury law services to the Westshore and beyond (Langford, Westshore, Colwood, View Royal, Sooke, and Victoria)!