When working with very high conflict families, some of the things that a parenting coordinator can do are:

objectively assess the situation to;

  • ensure safety,
  • evaluate areas of concern, and
  • begin identifying potential solutions,
  • promote the well being of all family members,
  • assist all family members to negotiate the emotional and practical aspects of the transition,
  • advocate for the children’s best interests,
  • impress upon parents the importance of regulating their behaviours,
  • facilitate communication, understanding, and respect,
  • monitor the family’s function and help resolve issues that come up on an ongoing basis,
  • be an impartial, informed resource for teachers, coaches, police officers, child welfare investigators, and judges,
  • identify the particular needs of a family and either provide services directly or provide appropriate referrals and collaborations,
  • provide coordination and cohesion among various professionals involved with the family, and
  • avoid a costly bilateral parenting assessment by facilitating the development and implementation of a parenting arrangement that best meets the interests of the family and the family members.

Parenting coordination will help families move much more quickly from their hostile, volatile situation to at the very least a functional “parallel parenting” arrangement. Usually a co-operative environment will be achieved, and potentially a collaborative one, which is really what children deserve.

Moderate and Low Conflict Situations

When working with families that are maintaining a moderate or low level of conflict a parenting coordinator does most, and perhaps all, of the things listed above, but the degree of involvement is less.

If compared to what is applied to a physical injury, parenting coordination has the flexibility to be like a cast, pins, and traction, or it can be like a simple tensor bandage, and anything in between.

Generally, when employed early, education and mediation will constitute the bulk of the parenting coordination process.  Periodically, many parents will reach an impasse on a particular issue.  Having a parenting coordinator in place to make a decision in a timely and informed way can be a blessing.  Without this arbitration component in place, such impasses either go unresolved, a judge who is unfamiliar with the family makes a decision, or the parents manipulatively get what they want whenever they can.  Each of these alternatives leads to increased animosity and conflict.

High Conflict Intact Families

While parenting coordination is typically used for families that have separated, it could be used in situations where there is high-conflict and the family is still together.  In such a situation, the parenting coordinator would work collaboratively with the parents' individual and/or couple therapist(s).