Parenting Coordination

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Parenting Coordination Services For Separated Families - Stewart Family Law

Even after parenting arrangements are finalised, some parents still struggle with ongoing conflict or cannot resolve issues that arise with their co-parenting. This is often due to ongoing parental conflict or different parenting styles and, at times, will require a neutral third party to address.

A parenting coordinator acts as an intermediary for parents in these situations, assisting them in reducing conflict and remaining focused on the best interests of their children. Parents with consent orders or a parenting plan, who struggle to manage communications and logistics or reach agreements related to their children often choose to engage a parenting coordinator, or may need to do so on Court order.

What is Parenting Coordination?

A Parenting Coordinator (PC) assists separated parents in communicating effectively, managing conflict, and solving disputes related to parenting issues following a Final Court Order or Parenting Plan.

Parenting Coordinators have specialised training in family law, child development, and conflict resolution. The goal of a parenting coordinator is to promote cooperation between parents and improve outcomes for the children involved.

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Is A Parenting Coordinator The Right Choice For Our Family?

A parenting coordinator works with families who already have orders or a parenting plan in place, helping them meet their responsibilities as co-parents if they cannot do so on their own. A parenting coordinator may be appointed by the Federal Circuit & Family Court of Australia (under the Family Law Act 1975 Sect 13C or Sect 60CC) or can be engaged privately if both parents agree to do so.

Unlike family lawyers, they are engaged in helping the two parties implement their parenting plan or orders and do not act on behalf of one parent only.

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Benefits of Parenting Coordination

Parenting Coordinators encourage effective communication between parents, which is necessary for successful co-parenting. They can assist parents in making better decisions and establishing consistent rules and expectations for their child/ren. By fostering cooperation and reducing hostility, the Parenting Coordination process can reduce the stress created by co-parenting responsibilities and conflict, thus enabling parents to focus on the best interests of their child/ren.

Meet Our Parenting Coordinators

At Stewart Family Law, we understand that a Court Order or Parenting Plan does not always end the conflict and stress that parents are experiencing. Nor does it provide for all circumstances that arise when parenting children with an ex-partner.

With the assistance of Parenting Coordinators (PC) Judy Stewart and Temika Slee, parents can resolve disputes about implementing their Parenting Orders or Parenting Plans and avoid further costly and stressful litigation.

At Stewart Family Law, we have dedicated breakout rooms available for no extra charge. We also offer telephone and videoconferencing appointments. Our fees are very competitive, and the parties usually meet the cost of Parenting Coordination equally.

Judy Stewart

Judy Stewart

Judy Stewart is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Parenting Coordinator. After an earlier career in social work, Judy has practised exclusively in Family Law since 2003. An experienced mediator and a collaborative law practitioner, Judy is known for taking a conciliatory approach to resolving disputes and actively encourages effective co-parenting.

Temika Slee

Temika Slee has practised exclusively in family law since 2012 and is both an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Temika chose to specialise in Family Law because it provides a real opportunity to genuinely help families during an emotional and difficult time. Temika sees Parenting Coordination as another valuable tool to assist families to resolve matters and avoid conflict.

Our Parenting Coordination Process

Once the parents have signed our Parenting Coordination Agreement, we will meet with each parent individually to gather information about family dynamics, the issues in dispute, and the children’s needs. The parents should allow approximately one hour for the intake session.

The intake sessions are then followed by joint sessions conducted on a monthly basis. The parents may attend joint sessions together or separately if there are safety concerns. During the joint sessions, our Parenting Coordinators can provide guidance to the parents on effective co-parenting strategies, communication techniques, conflict resolution skills and child development issues. In addition to the joint sessions, the parents may contact us at any time with concerns or issues that we can raise with the other parent.

The parents will continue to attend joint sessions until they can be moved to an ‘as required’ basis. Then, the parents can choose to disengage and manage co-parenting independently without the assistance of a Parenting Coordinator.

The format and duration of the Parenting Coordination process will depend on the Court Order or the agreement between the parents.

Contact us to arrange Parenting Coordination with Judy Stewart or Temika Slee.

Frequently Asked Questions - Parenting Coordination

Parenting Coordination can only be conducted once there is a Court Order or Parenting Plan, as the purpose is to work together to cooperatively implement the terms of the Order or Parenting Plan in the best interests of the child/ren.

We work with parents who have a Parenting Plan, Interim Order or Final Order in place.

No. While Parenting Coordination may be court-ordered, parents can also voluntarily choose to engage a Parenting Coordinator to improve their co-parenting relationship and resolve disputes outside the Court system. Before you can engage a Parenting Coordinator, the other parent will also need to agree to their appointment.

Unlike mediation, Parenting Coordination focuses exclusively on specific issues arising from a Parenting Plan or Court Order, such as scheduling conflicts, changeover arrangements, or communication issues between parents. 

Parenting Coordinators play an ongoing role in facilitating communication and resolving disputes between parents over an extended period, often until the parents voluntarily choose to disengage their services, or when the Court determines the need for ongoing assistance is no longer necessary. This differs from other dispute resolution forms, such as mediation, which may only involve a one-time session to reach a specific agreement. 

Parenting Coordination is useful for parents who cannot resolve disputes independently and where ongoing intervention is necessary. 

Parenting Coordinators can assist parents to resolve disputes regarding:

  • Parenting time, including but not limited to changes in the regular schedule (such as pick up and drop off times), organising makeup time, swapping time, the organisation of special occasions and holidays not provided for in the Order;
  • Child/ren’s activities or schooling;
  • Child/ren’s medical issues;
  • Parental communication and conflict; and
  • Any other child-related matter. 

The parenting Coordinator’s role is not to change an existing Parenting Order or Parenting Plan but rather to assist in implementing any Court Order or Parenting Plan with as little conflict between the parents as possible. 

Parenting issues subject to ongoing litigation or negotiation cannot be negotiated at Parenting Coordination sessions.

Upon our appointment, we require the parents to pay a retainer to cover the cost of each party’s intake session. Ongoing costs of joint sessions are shared between the parents (unless otherwise agreed). 

Yes, you can attend sessions with us if you are based outside of Brisbane. Our usual policy is that all sessions are conducted by Microsoft Teams meeting unless otherwise agreed. If you wish to attend your individual intake session at our office, this can be arranged with our friendly administrative staff.  

Yes, we can conduct Parenting Coordination sessions by shuttle or with both parents in the same Microsoft Teams meeting room. You can discuss your preference with us during your individual intake session. 

Unless an Order states otherwise, our role is for two years. Parenting Coordination can be terminated at any time by written agreement of both parents. If we are appointed by Court Order, our appointment can only be terminated by further Order of the Court. 

Individual sessions can occur at any time provided that the requesting parent meets the cost of the appointment in advance. Individual sessions are not confidential, and our Parenting Coordinators would forward a joint email following the session outlining the issues discussed.  

Joint sessions will typically occur once per month and be between 60 and 90 minutes in length but may be required more frequently. The parties may organise extra sessions, jointly or individually, with the Parenting Coordinator.

We can reach out to the other parent and enquire if they agree to our appointment as Parenting Coordinator; however, we are unable to progress Parenting Coordination further until the other parent confirms they agree to our appointment. 

No. If attempts to negotiate a resolution fail, the Parenting Coordinator may offer suggestions or options that they believe are in the best interests of your child/ren. These suggestions are not legally binding on the parents. The reasons for any recommendation may be produced to the Court in any future litigation between the parents.

Parenting Coordination began in the mid-1980’s in the USA as a response to parents who continued to engage in litigation surrounding parenting matters, and had ongoing high conflict after a divorce or separation. This created a strain on the family court system, often without a suitable solution being implemented.

It became more popular throughout the USA and Canada in the following decade, with family law matters that could not be resolved via the legal system or dispute resolution more frequently referred to as parenting coordination. Australia adopted Parenting Coordination in 2017 after Dr Anna Purcell and Cassandra Pullos attended training in the USA. It has become much more widely used both by private engagement by parents and by referral to Australian Family Courts since 2019.

No, Parenting Coordination is not confidential. Our Parenting Coordinators may share information with the parents or with their legal representatives, if any.

Our file will be available to be used as evidence in any subsequent and related Court proceedings. Parenting Coordinators may also disclose information to third parties if they have a reasonable suspicion that a child/ren may be subject to maltreatment or neglect or that either parent may be subject to bodily harm. 

Our Parenting Coordinators will not prepare a report at the request of the parties or their legal representatives. Our Parenting Coordinators will only prepare a report at the request of the Court, and the report will be provided directly to the Court (not to the parties or their legal representatives) or as or as otherwise directed by the Court. 

Awards & Recognition

Since 2017, Doyle’s Guide Has Recognised Our Expertise As Family Lawyers

“I wanted to let you know, Temika – how very grateful I have been to have you represent me over the past few years. You have certainly seen my worst side and kept me sane when I have really needed it! Your professionalism is second to none and I couldn’t have asked for any one better to be on my side! So from the very bottom of my heart thank you!!”

– KD

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