Tips for High Conflict Parents Utilizing a Parenting Coordinator

A Parenting Coordinator (PC) can play a pivotal role in helping high-conflict coparents navigate their relationship in a way that allows them to refocus on the very difficult job of parenting.

Here are some tips that to ensure the process has its best chance for success:

  1. Set realistic expectations. A PC can, for some coparents, enable a transformative experience that fundamentally changes the way they communicate and function. For others, what’s required is an efficient dispute resolution mechanism that will fairly and reliably resolve predictable conflict. Lawyers can help PCs greatly by recognizing the dynamics of their clients’ relationships and providing thoughtful input as to what kind of PC may be the best fit.  We ask our client parents also to put a lot of thought into process design that will suit their needs.
  2. Be prepared to do the hard work. The most successful PC clients are able to look within to see how they are contributing to the conflict and be prepared to do the work themselves. PCs must remain impartial and neutral if they are going to maintain the confidence of their clients. A PC is not meant to be a cheerleader or advocate for one parent. The adage that ‘you may not be able to change a situation but you can change the way you perceive a situation’ very much holds true. Clients who want their PC process to succeed must be prepared to work, grow and think constructively about steps they can take to improve the relationship with their coparent.
  3. Remember why you’re there. PC is meant to be a child-centric process that always focuses back on what is in the best interests of the children. It is easy for some parents to get stuck in a conflict loop. They have sometimes spent years bickering with another about many things, big or small. This pattern was often as intense even before the relationships dissolved. It’s imperative that parents enlisting the help of a PC recognize and appreciate that their children have also experienced this conflict in different ways. The impacts of these experiences can be quite profound and pervasive.PC clients must, at all times, ensure that they are only motivated by doing all they can to mitigate these impacts. Parents may not see eye to eye with each other; but they can at least stay focused what would be in their children’s best interests.
  4. Be informed. Independent legal advice is crucial, especially at the outset of a PC relationship. Know the limitations of the process while bearing in mind that effective legal counsel can tailor it to your needs in practical ways. Once the PC Agreement is signed, it is difficult to withdraw or terminate the relationship. It’s essential that both coparents have sufficient confidence in the process and their PC before deciding to move forward with it.

About Borzou Tabrizi

Borzou is a family lawyer and experienced family mediator. He has worked for many years as a court-based mediator with families in the Toronto family courts, gaining valuable experience with challenging cases. He also has a growing parenting coordination practice.