Mary Ann Hess, Parenting Coordinator
When a Court Order Is Not Enough
In cases where disagreements between parents get in the way of following the court-ordered parenting plan, the court
may appoint a Parenting Coordinator (PC).
The PC's job is to help parents put
the parenting plan into practice, for the benefit of the children. At scheduled
meetings with the PC, which both parents attend, parents can raise any concerns
about the plan and propose change to it.
Arizona family law attorney
Ann Hess is experienced as a court-appointed
Parenting Coordinator. Her background in litigating, mediating and settling
Arizona child-involved divorce cases are valuable assets in helping parents who want
to minimize their time in the courtroom. Mary Ann places a high priority on
resolving disputes concerning parenting decisions. In many instances, she can
schedule appointments with parents within 24 hours to help the parents put the
dispute behind them.
What Is a
A Parenting Coordinator is a professional
appointed by the court to assist parents in resolving disputes about parenting
their children, and to make recommendations to the court if the parents are
unable to reach a resolution.
What Does a Parenting
The Parenting Coordinator's
goals are somewhat different than those of a judge. A
judge's job is to make orders that are based on the law,
including the best interests of the children. A Parenting
Coordinator's job is to assist parents in
making parenting decisions in the best interests of the
children and in accordance with the parenting plan, as set
forth in their decree or the current court order. Whenever
possible, a major goal is to help families develop their
skills so they do not need a Parenting Coordinator. If this
can be accomplished, the power to make decisions about their
children is back in the hands of the parents.
What Are the Benefits of
Using a Parenting Coordinator?
Using a Parenting Coordinator
will usually reduce the need to go to court, and, therefore,
should be cost effective. In addition, the family will
usually be seen sooner by the Parenting Coordinator than the
Court, resulting in quicker resolution.
When Is a Parenting
There are times when having a court order is not
sufficient to resolve differences between parents regarding their children.
Conflicts can arise because a court order does not address the situation,
circumstances have changed, or an emergency has come up. Having a
Parenting Coordinator appointed by the court will help you to work with the
other parent to come up with a solution that is in your child's best interest.
If that does not work, your Parenting Coordinator can make a recommendation to
the court as to what is in your child's best interest. Either party can then
request that the court take further action on the issue. But by using the
Parenting Coordinator you can get a resolution of the issue in a faster and much
less expensive manner.
Parents may want to hire a
Parenting Coordinator when other avenues of problem
resolution have not resulted in an ability to make
recommendations to the court about their children and there
are continued disagreements about such issues as schedules,
overnight parenting time, choice of schools, extracurricular
activities, exchanging the children, holiday scheduling, the
handling of the children's behavior, religious training,
health issues, and problematic behaviors on the part of one
or both parents. Many times, the family has already
participated in a custody/access evaluation.
Parents may agree to use a Parenting Coordinator and agree
to a specific person, or the Court may appoint a Parenting
When a dispute is presented to
the Parenting Coordinator, the coordinator may try to assist
parents in reaching a resolution. The Parenting Coordinator
might want to get other information such as the children's
opinion, information from doctors, therapists, schools or
other caretakers. If the parties cannot come to an
agreement, the Parenting Coordinator then makes a
recommendation to the court for an order.
If one parent is opposed to the
recommendation, he or she can file an objection within 10
days and the court can review the recommendations. The
Court may accept, modify or reject the recommendations of
the Parenting Coordinator. The Court may also set the matter
for hearing. In a time-sensitive situation, a recommendation
of the Parenting Coordinator may be effective immediately
pending approval by the court and without prejudice to the
Hiring a Parenting Coordinator
Is a Serious Matter
A Parenting Coordinator is especially
helpful for families who continue to have disagreements.
Parenting Coordinators are also useful for families where
parents have concerns about drugs, alcohol abuse or the
stability of the other parent. A Parenting Coordinator may
be appointed for a specific term. If the Parenting
Coordinator feels that he or she cannot be helpful to the
family, the Parenting Coordinator can resign. If one parent
is unhappy with the Parenting Coordinator, that parent
cannot alone discharge the Parenting Coordinator.
Parenting Coordinator acts in a manner that seems
unprofessional, the parent should first talk with the
Parenting Coordinator about that parentís concerns. If the
parent is still unsatisfied, that parent should submit a
written statement of that parentís concern to the two
attorneys (if represented), the Parenting
Coordinator, the child's attorney (if there is one) and to
the other parent. A conference may be set to resolve the
concerns. If the concern is still not
resolved after that meeting, the parent can ask the court to
have the Parenting Coordinator removed. The judge will then
review the complaint and make a decision. If the
Coordinator is removed, a new Parenting Coordinator may be
Who Pays the Parenting
The parents pay the fees for the services of a Parenting
Coordinator as ordered by the court. Many Parenting Coordinators request a
retainer before they begin their work with a family. Before a Parenting
Coordinator is appointed, the judge will decide what portion of the fee each
parent will pay.