When parents continue to experience anger, distrust, or other difficulties in communicating beyond divorce conflict continues to create distress for them and their children. Intense and prolonged inter-parental conflict can cause problems for children directly and indirectly. It can impair the ability of each parent to deal effectively with the children. It can draw the children into the conflict and disrupt the children’s relationships with one or both parents. In addition, it can lead to a reduction in financial support of the children by one or both parents, due to the financial costs of repeated litigation.
Parenting Coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a trained mental health or legal professional with mediation training and expertise assists high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner, educating parents about children's needs.
Unlike most other jurisdictions, Texas has implemented Parenting Coordination as a confidential process similar to mediation. Parenting Coordinators may not be called to testify in court, and can only report to the court information on whether the process is continuing or not.
Parent Facilitation is similar to Parent Coordination in that it is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process. The main difference between the two is that Parent Facilitators are appointed in a non-confidential capacity. Texas Family Code Section 153.6051, defines when and why parent facilitators may be appointed, their duties and responsibilities, qualifications needed to serve as such, and compensation.
Goals of the Parent Coordinator & Facilitator
Whether acting as a Parenting Coordinator or Parenting Facilitator, the goal of the process is to help parents build a healthy, business-like relationship with each other so that their children are no longer subject to the negative effects of parental conflict. Parent Facilitators and Coordinators help parents by:
- Providing parents with skills in collaborative planning and decision making for their children
- Educating parents on co-parenting techniques and issues related to children growing up between two homes.
- Identifying sources of conflict between them and consider ways to address them
- Facilitating communication between the parents and between parents and others who relate to the children—e.g., grandparents, school personnel, and therapists
- Reducing chronic litigation (and preserve family resources)
- Using mediation techniques to deal with specific issues
- Assisting the parents in compliance with court orders