In Massachusetts, a Parent Coordinator is an attorney, psychiatrist, social worker or therapist who has qualified to be appointed pursuant to Probate and Family Court Standing Order 1-17 (link to Standing Order 1-17 provided below).
Parties seek a Parent Coordinator ("P.C.") when communication has become difficult or strained and when they have difficulty making joint decisions for their children.
Acting as a neutral, the P.C. works with parents to help them reach agreements that are in the best interest of their children. The Standing Order applies to appointments which are pursuant to an agreement the parties reached and had approved by the court. However, in some cases, a P.C. can be appointed without an agreement of both parties and in those cases the Judge provides a detailed order as to the issues the P.C. will address. See 6 (a) though (e) of https://www.mass.gov/probate-and-family-court-rules/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-1-17-parenting-coordination
The goal of working with a P.C. is to:
1. Improve communication.
2. Try to resolve disputes.
3. Assist with co-parenting strategies.
4. Providing education and resources.
It is important to know that a P.C. cannot make decisions as to changes in custody.
Some areas that the P.C. can address can be found in 7(a) of the Standing Order, which states the P.C. may:
assist the parties in amicably resolving disputes and in reaching agreements about the implementation of and compliance with the order regarding the child or children in their care including, but not limited to, the following types of issues:
(i) minor changes or clarifications of the existing parenting plan;
(ii) exchanges of the child or children including date, time, place, means of and responsibilities for transportation;
(iii) education or daycare including school choice, tutoring, summer school, before and after school care, participation in special education testing and programs, or other educational decisions;
(iv) enrichment and extracurricular activities including camps and jobs;
(v) the child or children’s travel and passport arrangements;
(vi) clothing, equipment, and personal possessions of the child or children;
(vii) means of communication by a party with the child or children when they are not in that party’s care;
(viii) role of and contact with significant others and extended families;
(ix) psychotherapy or other mental health care including substance abuse or mental health assessment or counseling for the child or children;
(x) psychological testing or other assessments of the children; and
(xi) religious observances and education.
Some families may benefit from the assistance of a Parent Coordinator and should seek guidance from their attorney. Utilizing a Parent Coordinator is often more cost effective than ongoing litigation and can be beneficial to children.