The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) has established guidelines for parenting coordination work. Guideline VI specifies the five primary functions of a parenting coordinator (PC). These functions are summarized below.
The PC should review the custody evaluation, relevant records, temporary or final court orders and judgments, information from interviews with parents and children and other collateral sources, and domestic violence protection orders and related information. The PC should also review educational records of the child or children, and analyze the impasses and issues set forth by the parents.
An important function of the PC is to help parents understand the serious, negative consequences that children suffer when exposed to high levels of parental and/or frequent conflict, and to provide parents with the tools to improve communication and parenting skills. A parenting coordinator may also educate and coach parents on topics such as child development, divorce research, the impact of the parents’ behavior on the children, parenting skills, and communication and conflict resolution skills.
The PC serves a case management and coordination function. The PC should work with the professionals and systems involved with the family (e.g. mental health, health care, social services, education, legal) as well as with extended family, stepparents, and significant others, when appropriate.
The PC’s primary role is to minimize conflict by assisting parents in resolving disagreements regarding the children. The PC may utilize dispute resolution skills from principles and practices of negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. To assist the parents in reducing conflict, the PC may monitor written exchanges of parent communications and suggest more productive and less combative forms or styles of communication.
The PC serves a decision-making role. When parents are unable to agree or resolve disputes on their own, the PC is empowered to make decisions to the extent described in the court order or PC Client Agreement, or to make reports or recommendations to the court for further consideration. PCs should communicate their decisions in a timely manner in person, by telephone, or (more likely) in a written communication. In the event that decisions are provided orally, a written version shall follow in a timely manner.