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PARENTAL COORDINATORS IN FLORIDA

There are so many situations where children of divorce suffer because their parents cannot continue fight after the divorce

In our office we have many divorce cases that NEVER end because the parents cannot stop fighting after the divorce.  These people have shared parenting of their children and they just cannot work together.  The children wind up in the middle of the fight.  They are the unfortunates.  In Palm Beach County, and pursuant to F.S. Section 61.125, Parenting Coordinators may be appointed to step in and assist battling parents.

Parenting Coordination is a process defined by Florida Statutes section 61.125 (1) where an impartial third party allows parents to implement a parenting plan facilitated through education, making recommendations to counsel, and making decisions within the scope of the court’s order. A Parenting Coordinator’s role is to empower families through skills development, assist them to resolve their own disputes, provide access to appropriate services, and to offer a variety of dispute resolution forums where the family can resolve problems without additional emotional trauma. The Fifteenth Circuit’s Alternative dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Program has compiled a list of Parenting Coordinators, for court-ordered referrals. These Parenting Coordinators have met the qualification requirements of Florida Statutes section 61.125 (4) and the ADR Program and can be appointed as Parenting Coordinators in high-conflict cases.

Upon agreement of the parties, the court’s own motion, or the motion of a party, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator and refer the parties to parenting coordination to assist in the resolution of disputes concerning their parenting plan.  A Parenting Coordinator must be a Physician, a Psychologist, an Attorney, a Mediator a Social Worker or be  licensed as a mental health professional under chapter 490 or chapter 491.2. The PC must complete:

a. Three years of postlicensure or postcertification practice.
b. A family mediation training program certified by the Florida Supreme Court.
c. A minimum of 24 hours of parenting coordination training in parenting coordination concepts and ethics, family systems theory and application, family dynamics in separation and divorce, child and adolescent development, the parenting coordination process, parenting coordination techniques, and Florida family law and procedure, and a minimum of 4 hours of training in domestic violence and child abuse which is related to parenting coordination.
In Palm Beach County eighteen people have qualified through the court system for judicial appointment as Parental Coordinators.  Keep in mind that as of 2011 Palm Beach County has a current population of approximately 19 million people.  Further, research has shown that Palm Beach County has some of the highest rates of divorce throughout the state of Florida and it is within the top five counties for divorce filings in the state.  One has to wonder – are eighteen qualified PC’s enough?  How hard is it to get a PC appointed?  What does it cost?  Are the PC’s reasonably available?  What power if any will the court grant a PC?  Although the State has approved PCs courts have been hesitant to appoint them, and hesitant to appoint an adequate number of PCs – the existing PCs have a virtual monopoly over the system and it is almost impossible for a new PC to get on the list.

If you have any question regarding this or any other legal matter our firm may be able to help you. Please contact Jupiter Legal Advocates at (561) 748-8000 or email us at info@jupiterlegaladvocates.com for further information and assistance. We try our very best to respond immediately.

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1 Comment to “PARENTAL COORDINATORS IN FLORIDA”

  1. Dear Anna – Thanks so much for reading our blog – it is appreciated. Our lawyers work very hard to come up with topics that are meaningful. So – when someone actually comments it gets their attention. The whole PC system is underused and over regulated. The simple truth is that the folks who are in the program are controlling it and wont let anyone new in. It is a closed club with very set high fees. The idea is to make it MORE important and more expensive. Judges who appoint from the golden 18 are sticking people with $200 per hour blood suckers who are going to write a court report – so everyone is on their best behavior. None of our firm’s attorneys ever ask for a PC – we would rather have a GAL appointed – it is cheaper. Bottom line is that the PC system should have and could have worked. But it does not. There should be 200 PC’s in the county and they should get $25-$50 per hour and be available post divorce. Every shared parenting and time sharing agreement should appoint a PC and the PC’s should have arbitration powers – that is – they should recommend solutions in writing – and if a parent does not like it – they can take it to a judge. Our firm has many post divorce cases where it is impossible for the parties to discuss the weather let alone what schooling a child should get or the activities they should be in. The children are merely hockey pucks in the parents continuing fight!

    If there are any subjects you think we should take up – please let us know and we will research and post asap.

    Thanks again for reading – it is appreciated.

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