Parenting After Separation: Parenting Coordination

My ex and I can’t agree on parenting decisions, what can we do?


In some cases, even after parents have obtained an order, arbitration award, or entered into a separation/parenting agreement, high levels of conflict can remain. This conflict can make it exceptionally difficult for parents to work together. In situations where parents cannot agree on a parenting decision, they can turn to a parenting coordinator to assist them in resolving their disputes. In this post we will discuss what parenting coordination is, and how a parenting coordinator may be able to assist you.

Parenting Coordination: What is it?

Parenting coordination is a form of alternative dispute resolution that is only accessible after parties have already obtained a court order, arbitration award, or entered into an agreement, and is solely related to parenting decisions.

A parenting coordinator works with parents to resolve everyday conflicts. They assist in facilitating communication between the parents, and if necessary, they will make decisions based on information obtained from teachers, doctors, counselors, the parents themselves, and the child.

What sorts of decisions can parenting coordinators make?

Parenting coordinators can only make decisions regarding how the child is parented. These decisions can be things such as where the child will attend school, the scheduling of activities such as sports and music lessons, travel arrangements, and how the child’s items move between homes.

Parenting coordinators cannot make decisions regarding custody of the child. They also cannot decide what parenting schedule the parties should follow. Parenting coordinators can only get involved after the issues of custody/access and a parenting schedule has been ordered or agreed upon.

How does parenting coordination work?

There are two aspects to parenting coordination: non-decision making and decision making. In the non-decision-making aspect, the parenting coordinator works with the parents in a variety of ways. They:

  1. Obtain information regarding the family dynamic and parenting issues;
  2. Provide information to the parents regarding child development and the impact of family conflict on that development;
  3. Coach the parties on how to better communicate and effective parenting strategies; and
  4. Mediate any disputes that may arise.

If this first stage of parenting coordination is not effective and conflict persists, the coordinator will use the decision-making component to assist the parents in resolving the issue. During this stage, the parenting coordinator will make a binding decision based on all the information gathered and the submissions of the parties.

Once the coordinator has made their decision, it is legally binding on the parties, and they are obligated to abide by it. In the event that a party disagrees with the decision of a coordinator, they may appeal the decision.

If you’d like to learn more about parenting coordination, you can read Justice Audet’s recent decision here.