• More - Parenting Coordination


Parenting coordination is a dispute resolution process that includes elements of education, coaching, mediation, and arbitration. The BC Parenting Coordinators Roster Society was founded in about 2007 in order to promote parenting coordination as a way of dealing with post-trial and post-settlement high conflict parents who are constantly involved in problems involving parenting issues and in 2013, the Family Law Act legislated the use of parenting coordinators and incorporated provisions expressly allowing the court to appoint parenting coordinators over the objection of a party.

Parenting coordination is most appropriate for parents who have experienced significant conflict over a period of at least one or two years and who continue to experience conflict, which prevents them from making important and necessary decisions for the benefit of their children. They require the assistance of a third party to either help them make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf.

Given the nature of my work with separated families and my ongoing professional training, I have a good understanding of how long-term conflict affects every member of a family and how children’s development may be negatively impacted by parental conflict.

As a parenting coordinator, my role is to educate and coach parents, mediate and arbitrate disputes, and refer family members to appropriate community resources.

In British Columbia, the Family Law Act and Regulations give a court the authority to make an order requiring parents to participate in parenting coordination. It is also available to parents who consent to participate in the process.

Section 211 Parenting Report assessors, judges, and lawyers routinely recommend it as the preferred dispute resolution process for families who, without access to a parenting coordinator, would spend most of their time in court requesting court orders to address every dispute between them, as it arises, the cost of which would be prohibitive.

BC Parent Coordinator

About Parenting Coordination

  • In British Columbia, most parenting coordinators are trained either as lawyers or mental health professionals. You need to choose a parenting coordinator with the appropriate professional education, training, and experience to work with your family.
  • Typically, a parenting coordinator is appointed as a term of a comprehensive parenting plan set out in a court order or separation agreement.
  • A parenting coordinator is not appointed to create a comprehensive parenting plan but is to implement the parenting plan or arrangements.
  • A parenting coordinator cannot be appointed without first consenting to the appointment.
  • Generally, a parenting coordinator will be appointed to work with a family over a period of one to two years.
  • Before agreeing to take on the role of parenting coordinator with a particular family, the parenting coordinator is required to meet remotely or in person, individually with each parent to screen them for suitability for the parenting coordination process. Parenting coordination is not a suitable process for everyone.
  • In addition to any document (court order or agreement) through which they agree to appoint a parenting coordinator, the parties are required to sign a formal parenting coordination contract which defines the working relationship between the parents and the parenting coordinator and, in particular:
  • The issues which the parties may address in mediation and which, if not resolved in that process, will be resolved through arbitration.
  • The issues about which the parenting coordinator has no authority to make decisions.
  • The structure of the parenting coordination process.
  • The parties’ appeal rights relating to arbitration awards made during the term of the contract.
  • The renewal, expiration or termination of the parenting coordination contract.
  • The role of a parenting coordinator is to:
  • Assist the parents with the implementation of their parenting plan as reflected in their separation agreement, minutes of settlement, court order, or arbitration award.
  • Monitor the children’s adjustment to the parenting plan.
  • Facilitate the children’s relationships with both parents.
  • If required, assist the parents with improving their communication.
  • If required, assist the parents with disengaging to reduce the conflict between them.
  • Educate the parents about their children’s needs and the impact of parental conflict on the children’s development.
  • When required, interview the child(ren) if and when needed as mandated by the united nations, the family law act, and the regulations that require that, where appropriate in the circumstances, a child shall be given a voice and has a right to be heard.
  • When required, interview a child’s doctor, dentist, teacher, pastor, nurse, grandparents, counselor in the process of reaching a child-centred resolution.
  • If required, assist the parents with their exchange of necessary information about the children.
  • Mediate disputes between the parents by coaching, guiding, and facilitating their discussions.
  • If the parents are unable to resolve their disputes through mediation, arbitrate the disputes.
  • The ultimate goal of parenting coordination is to help the parents reach the point where they are able to co-parent their children without any ongoing involvement of the parenting coordinator.

The three sources of the parenting coordinator’s authority at the BC Family Law Act, the Regulations to the Family Law Act, BC Reg. 84/2019, May 13, 2019, and the decisions of judges in Court. The Regulation’s section 6 specifies and sets limits on the authority as follows:

  • (3) The following are the matters in respect of which a parenting coordinator may make determinations:
    • (a) Parenting arrangements
    • (b) Contact with a child
  • (4) For the purposes of subsection (3), a parenting coordinator
    • (a) May make determinations in respect of
      • (i) A child's daily routine, including a child's schedule in relation to parenting time or contact with the child
      • (ii) The education of a child, including in relation to the child's special needs,
      • (iii) The participation of a child in extracurricular activities and special events,
      • (iv) The temporary care of a child by a person other than
        • (A) The child's guardian
        • (B) A person who has contact with the child under an agreement or order
      • (v) The provision of routine medical, dental or other health care to a child
      • (vi) The discipline of a child
      • (vii) The transportation and exchange of a child for the purposes of exercising parenting time or contact with the child
      • (viii) Parenting time or contact with a child during vacations and special occasions
      • (ix) Any other matters, other than matters referred to in paragraph (b) that are agreed on by the parties and the parenting coordinator
  • A parenting coordinator is further limited by the Regulations:
    • (b) Must not make determinations in respect of
      • (i) A change to the guardianship of a child.
      • (ii) A change to the allocation of parental responsibilities.
      • (iii) Giving parenting time or contact with a child to a person who does not have parenting time or contact with the child.
      • (iv) A substantial change to the parenting time or contact with a child.
      • (v) The relocation of a child.

A family may be referred to me for parenting coordination services by:

  • A mental health professional who has prepared a written s. 211 Report or parenting assessment for the family in which longstanding conflict has been identified.
  • The lawyers for both parties.
  • Local judges, who recommend the process as part of the overall settlement of parenting issues.
  • Parents themselves who are seeking a more streamlined dispute resolution process.

Parties may be referred for parenting coordination services at various stages of their negotiation or court proceedings. For example, it may become evident during negotiations between lawyers that there are many issues that create conflict between parents who are not likely to subside over time. The lawyers may negotiate a fairly extensive parenting plan and refer the family to parenting coordination services so that the existing plan may be implemented, monitored, and adjusted to meet the changing needs of the children or to reflect special circumstances.

BC Parent Coordinator

Alternatively, as a term of a final settlement of a court action, in order to avoid trial, many parents will appoint a parenting coordinator to work with their family because they know that given their history, new conflicts will arise regularly and they can no longer tolerate the emotional and financial cost of court proceedings.

BC Parent Coordinator

“We must all obey the great law of change.
It is the most powerful law of nature.”

Edmund Burke