At TEN Advocaten we have a Parenting Coordinator: Vera Nijenhof-van der Donk. Driven by her passion to minimise conflict situations in divorces and separations, this is a role that fits her like a glove! Below, Vera is happy to explain what Parenting Coordination entails.
What is Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordination is a new way of resolving conflicts out of court, whereby the interests of the child are central.
Who is Parenting Coordination for?
Do you and your ex-partner have minor children and do you disagree about the care arrangement, choice of school, place of residence, holidays or other matters concerning your child(ren)? Then Parenting Coordination can help you.
What does a Parenting Coordinator do?
A Parenting Coordinator (also abbreviated to PC) helps divorced parents to execute the parenting plan agreed upon between them. Think about the compliance of the agreements made about for example the care or holiday arrangements, birthdays and changes to the parenting plan. The PC talks to the parents and the children and, if necessary, can also call in the help of third parties, for example your child’s teacher.
If there is a conflict, the PC helps the parents to come to a joint solution quickly and efficiently. A solution that does justice to the interests of both parents, but more in particular the interests of the child. A PC route is aimed at preventing a conflict from arising or escalating. If the parents do not manage to reach a compromise themselves with the help of a PC, the PC can make a proposal or recommendation to the parents or even give a binding advice. The PC puts the interests of the child first and will always try to find a solution together with the parents and the child without going to court.
What is the difference between Parenting Coordination and mediation?
Parenting Coordination is very similar to mediation, but there are also differences. Whereas a mediator is mainly involved at the beginning of the divorce process, the PC mainly has a role after the divorce. When parents cannot reach agreement during mediation or when one of the parents is no longer willing to cooperate in the mediation, the mediation stops. The mediation is then frequently regarded as a waste of time and money. Worse still is that parties are often back to square one and this does not do the mutual relationships between parties any good. If the parties had tried to find a solution through Parenting Coordination, they might have been successful and further conflict could have been prevented.
For this reason, a PC must also have extensive experience and have successfully completed a recognised Parenting Coordination training course. After all, it is important to offer parents and children a guarantee of quality.
Eligibility for Parenting Coordination
Before a programme can start, a screening takes place and the parents are checked for suitability for the Parenting Coordination programme. The PC will check whether there are certain factors present that could possibly hinder the process. The screening takes some time, but it is a very important step. If it becomes clear after the start of the process that a case is not suitable for Parenting Coordination, there is a risk that the relationship will be damaged further and that the conflict between the parents will get worse.
If the PC feels that the case is suitable for a PC route, a first meeting will be planned. In this first meeting, the PC will provide insight into the role, powers, possibilities and impossibilities of the PC, as well as the rights and obligations of the parents themselves. The PC will also explain the process, confidentiality and costs. Clear agreements will be made, which will also be recorded in a PC agreement. It is important that all parties know where they stand during the process and that there is clarity about the who, what, where and preferably also about the duration of the process.
Course of a Parenting Coordination process
Once the process has started, the PC will first work according to the techniques of mediation and try to let the parties find a solution themselves. The PC does this in a child-focused way that is as short and efficient as possible. During the process the PC will gather all necessary information. The PC does this mainly by having several talks with the parents, but also with the children or any authorities that may be involved. As soon as the PC has sufficient information, he or she will further support the parties in reaching a compromise. If the parents do not succeed, the PC can make a proposal or recommendation to the parents if necessary. With regard to minor disputes, a PC can also, if it lies within his or her authority, give a binding advice.
A binding advice is a heavy measure. It is important to point out that parents always have the possibility to have a binding advice tested by a judge. After all, it must be prevented that the PC takes the place of the judge. Which instrument is used by the PC will – apart from his or her authority – depend on the expectation the PC has about what the parents will do with the outcome. The authority of the PC is agreed with the parents in the PC agreement. Whatever measures the PC takes, the PC will always have to be able to explain and justify the content to the parents. During this process, the PC always considers the position and opinion of the child, obviously taking into account the age and developmental stage of the minor. This makes the PC trajectory a very child-oriented one. After all, finding the best solution for the child is central.
If you have any questions after reading the above information or if this programme seems appropriate for you, please do not hesitate to contact me! I look forward to working with you on finding the best solution for you as parents, but more importantly, for your child(ren)!