Unfortunately, co-parenting coordination is not going to take away all your evaluation business. We say unfortunately because, as you will likely agree, it would be best if parents could create effective parenting plans on their own. It's also fair for co-parenting coordinators to hope that someone's business becomes unneeded, because co-parenting coordination is all about working yourself out of a job. Helping the family get to a point where your services are no longer needed. Counselling and parenting are just two other examples of the same dynamic.
Having a co-parenting coordinator in place can make an evaluator's job easier, and can help the family a great deal during the process. Also, a co-parenting coordinator can be an important source of information to compliment your current assessment process.
If parents are getting a bilateral parenting assessment done then they will invariably be having difficulty agreeing on a whole host of parenting issues. During the assessment process they will likely be trying to conscript you into helping them decide issues such as the Christmas vacation schedule, whether Sally goes to the Flames game with her hockey team, or who the children will be with on Halloween. Of course, as an assessor, you can't involve yourself in those issues in the way that the family needs, even though you know that these can be very important to the family.
You know that when the day-to-day issues for families are not addressed, they accumulate and lead to an escalation in the conflict, which results in a deleterious impact on the children. You also know that when parents complain about a particular issue that seems trivial, it's gotten to that point because a multitude of other small things have not been adequately addressed.
Co-parenting coordination can address the family issues on an ongoing basis, and that creates a clearer space for you to do your assessment.
What can you do as an evaluator?
First of all, you can encourage families to use co-parenting coordination and form a professional relationship with some so that you have some particular co-parenting coordinators that you can refer people to. Secondly, you can ad co-parenting coordination to the list of services that you provide.
Evaluators typically report that about 90% of the cases that they do evaluations for settle without actually going to trial.
Evaluations are designed to provide information to the courts so that the best possible parenting plan can be imposed upon the family.
Why would you use a process that is designed for that 10% on the other 90%?
We believe that the use of co-parenting coordination, while providing immediate help and relief, will also result in parenting plans that are genuinely agreed to by most of the families that currently have an assessment done. For the perhaps 10% that don't agree, the ones that are likely destined for trial, the co-parenting coordinator can remain in place, providing continued help and relief, up to and beyond trial, and that co-parenting coordinator will have an accumulated wealth of information and insight upon which the evaluator can draw.
Our hope is that this website will provide you with a thorough understanding of co-parenting coordination and a clear insight into the ways that it benefits everyone.
The on-line library has a considerable amount of reference material, but most of the published articles are written with the legal community as the intended audience.
When we find one, or write one, that speaks primarily to the mental health community, we will add a link to it here. If you are willing to read an entire book, there are two that are excellent.
Working With High-Conflict Families of Divorce: A Guide for Professionals, by Baris, M., Coates, C., Duvall, B., Garrity, C., Johnson, E., LaCrosse, E. (2001) (link to contents and preface).
The Psychotherapist as Parent Coordinator in High-Conflict Divorce: Strategies and Techniques, by Susan M. Boyan and Ann Marie Termini (2004) (link to Haworth Press' Product Details).
For additional information, and a compilation of information that is specific to Canada, please review the Canadian Co-parenting Coordinators Association's website, www.parentcoordinators.ca.