Parenting Coordination Central

 

Sample Consent Order

Parenting Coordinators are appointed by way of court order, consent order or by a stipulation of the parties.  The document will reflect the role and responsibilities of the professional appointed to work with the family.  It will also determine if the parenting coordinator may make temporary decisions, recommendations that are to be followed or final decisions.  These important factors will be determined by local rule, state statutes or based upon the agreement of the two parties.  Two sample consent orders are included below.  Be sure to check for statues and local rules to help determine the wording of your document.  The first consent order reflects the least amount of authority to the parenting coordinator.  The second consent order reflects a greater degree of authority granted to the parenting coordinator. 

Minimal Authority-Sample Consent Order


STATE OF _________
FOR THE COUNTY OF ________________

__________

                        Plaintiff,

                        __________

                        __________

vs.

                                                                                   

_________

                        Defendant

                       __________

                       __________

Case No.  ________________

           

Attorney for Plaintiff

_____________

Phone

Fax:

E-mail:

Attorney for Defendant

_______________

Phone

Fax: 

E-mail: 

                  CONSENT ORDER APPOINTING PARENTING COORDINATOR

                                                                               

                                                       Entered:  __________, 2013

            This order is entered on the consent of the parties, who have stipulated that a Parenting Coordinator shall be appointed to work with them regarding the parenting and co-parenting issues of their children.  By their signatures below,

1.         The Parties Acknowledge:

 

1.1       They have read and understand this consent order.  They are executing this Order freely   

            and voluntarily and based upon their own desire to have a Parenting Coordinator  

            appointed. 

1.2       That the process of parenting coordination is a non-confidential process.

1.3       The goals of parenting coordination include, but are not limited to,

  • To promote a cooperative relationship between parents on behalf of their child.
  • Educate parents regarding the impact of their behaviors on their child(ren)’s development.
  • Reduce parental conflict through anger management, communication and conflict resolutions skills.
  • Decrease inappropriate parental behaviors to reduce stress for the child(ren).
  • Diminish the child(ren)’s sense of loyalty binds.
  • Help parents identify their contribution to conflict while increasing impulse control.
  • Encourage both parents to maintain an ongoing relationship with their child(ren).
  • Work with parents in developing a detailed plan for issues such as discipline, decision-making, communication, etc.
  • Create a more relaxed home atmosphere allowing the child(ren) to adjust more effectively with the new family structure.
  • Collaborate with professionals involved with the family in order to offer coordinated services.

1.4     Each understands that the Parenting Coordinator is impartial and facilitates a non- confidential  

          process to educate, mediate, assess, monitor, coordinate and make recommendations to the

          parties and attorneys regarding issues where the parties are unable to reach agreement.

1.5      In appointing a parenting coordinator they agree to abide by any new agreements they

          make during the parenting coordination process.

1.6     Each understands that the Parenting Coordinator is not employed for the benefit of either parent 
         but rather for the benefit of the child/ren.

1.7    Each understands that they are discouraging from taking any adversarial action against the other

         parent without first having the matter discussed with their parenting coordinator. 

2.     Appointment of Parenting Coordinator

2.1    On the consent of the parties, therefore, IT IS ORDERED that the parenting issues set forth

         below are referred to a Parenting Coordinator.

2.2    This court has the authority to appoint a Parenting Coordinator with the power to make  

         recommendations, when the parties give their consent subject to the limitations set forth in

         this order.

2.3    __________________________is appointed Parenting Coordinator.  They may be reached at

         _________________________   ___-_____-_______.  The parties shall contact the parenting

         coordinator to schedule their first appointment within seven business days.

           

3.      Authority of The Parenting Coordinator

3.1    One of the goals of parenting coordination is to assist the parties to resolve their own parenting

         issues.  However, when the parties are unable to agree, the Parenting Coordinator shall have

           authority to make temporary recommendations on the following:

  1. communication between the parties;
  2. transportation and transfers of children between parents;
  3. alterations in the parenting schedule, so long as the basic time sharing arrangement is not changed; 
  4. vacations and holidays:  schedules and implementation;
  5. daily routines;
  6. extracurricular and school activities and recreation;
  7. discipline;
  8. child care/day care/babysitting issues; and
  9. Resources for either parent such as, but not limited to, psychotherapy and termination of same, substance abuse and domestic violence treatment and/or counseling, drug and alcohol screens and parenting classes.  participation by significant others, relatives, etc. in parenting time;

3.2        Optional:  The Parenting Coordinator may make temporary recommendations on the following:

  1.   education;
  2.   physical and mental health care management, including: determining and recommending appropriate medical and mental health evaluation and treatment  The Parenting Coordinator may recommend how any health care provider is chosen;
  3. Other:  (e.g., religious matters, private schooling, non-parent visitation, etc.).

3.3       The parties hereby agree to follow the Parenting Coordinator’s temporary recommendation as
           
the order of the court until a contrary order is entered by the court.  The parties have      

          _________to file a _________ regarding the PC recommendation.  However, written and

         final recommendations made at the completion of the process are advisory only.  The

         parenting coordinator shall not have the authority to determine or recommend custody to

         either party.   However, the PC may by way of memo, conference or testimony share their

         concerns regarding both parents and the current custodial arrangements when required to do.

3.4         The Parenting Coordinator may not arbitrate any parenting issues without an additional separate               

           arbitration  consent order signed by all parties. 

           

4.       Written Recommendations and Status Memos

4.1       The Parenting Coordinator's written recommendations and/or memos shall be mailed,

          emailed or faxed to each party, their attorneys and guardian ad litem. At the request of both

           attorneys a  copy may also be filed with the judge.  The Parenting Coordinator may send 

          status memos to document any impasse or non-compliance by either party.

4.2     In the case of an emergency, the Parenting Coordinator shall have discretion to issue oral

          emergency recommendations, if they believe they are warranted.  Emergency

          recommendations, including the need for an emergency hearing, shall be communicated to

          the parties, their attorneys and the Court by the means most likely to ensure that each is

          aware of the request, with a confirming letter, fax or email to follow as soon as possible. 

          The Parenting Coordinator may subsequently issue a written recommendation, as described

          in the paragraph preceding.  An emergency recommendation may also address the potential

          need for visitation to be changed to supervised visitation. 

5.       Role and Responsibility of the Parenting Coordinator

5.1    A parenting coordinator may be appointed during the separation process or post divorce.  

         During pre-divorce cases, the parenting coordinator shall assist the parents to resolve their

          parenting plan with the goal towards assisting them to settle out of court.  All aspects of their

          parenting plan shall be incorporated into their final settlement.   Post-divorce cases shall also

          include a form of dispute resolution to assist the parties to identify and modify any aspects of

          their parenting plan that require clarification to avoid further conflict.

5.2     In addition to the conflict resolution component, the parenting coordination process shall

          include education on the impact of the divorce and parental behaviors on their children.  The

          parties shall be expected to learn how to shield their child/ren from conflict, increase parental

          cooperation, improve their communication skills, resolve their own parenting matters.  The

          parenting coordinator shall determine if these skills share be taught in a co-parent group

          format and/or during the parties joint meetings.

5.3     The role of parenting coordinator shall also include the responsibility of documenting parental

          compliance with any court order, program agreements and guidelines.  In addition to session

          documentation and update status memos or email, the parenting coordinator may determine if

          and when to video tape the joint sessions.  The purpose of video-taping shall allow the parties

          to view their behavior for educational purposes, and for the parenting coordinator to assess

          progress.  Any video tapes shall remain in the parenting coordinator’s possession unless

          ordered to release by the Court.

5.4      One of the goals of parenting coordination is to avoid high conflict parties from returning to

          court unnecessarily.  When this goal is not attainable, then the parenting coordinator may

          provide valuable information to the Court by way of testimony.  The party who chooses to 

          subpoenaed the parenting coordinator to testify or be deposed shall be responsible for the full

          fees associated with testimony.  Furthermore, the party who requests the PC to testify on any

          matter, must file a Motion and Notice of Hearing and show good cause in the Motion and at

          the hearing why the Court should require the PC to testify.  The PC must be given a copy of

          the Motion and Notice of Hearing.  All testimony shall be for the best interest of the child

          rather than for either party.  The Judge, at their discretion may determine if the cost of

          testimony shall be shared by both parties.

6.       Procedure and Rights of Parenting Coordinator

6.1     The Parenting Coordinator may conduct sessions that are informal in nature, by telephone,

          email or in person. The parties are expected to schedule when requested to do so by the

          Parenting Coordinator. 

6.2     The parties understand that the Parenting Coordinator will attempt to facilitate disputes. 

          Settlement discussions conducted by the Parenting Coordinator are not considered mediation. 

          As such, they are not confidential.

6.3      The Parenting Coordinator shall have:

  1. The authority to determine the protocol of all interviews and sessions, including, in the case of meetings with the parties, the power to determine who attends such meetings, including individual and joint sessions with the parties, interviews with collateral contacts, the children, significant others or both
  2. Reasonable access to the children;
  3. Notice of all proceedings, including requests for examinations affecting the children;
  4. Access to any therapist or psychological evaluator of any of the parties or  children, and access to school or medical records;
  5. Copies of all evaluations and psychological test results performed on any children or any parent or custodian or guardian of the children, including Friend of the Report Reports, psychological evaluations, etc.
  6. Access to any psychological testing or test results performed on the children or any parent, custodian, or guardian of the children and access as needed to speak with the evaluator personally;
  7. Access to principal/teachers/teacher’s aides of the children;
  8. The parties’ signatures on this Consent Order constitute a full release and authorization to the Parenting Coordinator to communicate and exchange information with all collateral contacts.
  9. The ability to use consultants as necessary to assist the Parenting Coordinator in the performance of the duties in this Order;
  10. Copies of all past and future pleadings relating to custody and parenting issues within seven (7) calendar days after filing.

7.        Communication with the Parenting Coordinator.

7.1     The parties and their attorneys have the right to initiate communications with the Parenting

          Coordinator. Any party may initiate contact in writing with the Parenting Coordinator,

          provided that copies are submitted to the other party.

7.2     The parenting coordinator may discuss with either attorney the process of parenting

          coordination and details regarding their own client.  The other party shall not be discussed

          unless done by way of joint conference calls with both attorneys, joint meetings, status

          memos, deposition or testimony. 

7.3     The Parenting Coordination process is non-confidential and the Parenting Coordinator may 

          exchange information with any screener, evaluator, therapist or guardian ad litem  or other

          party. The Parenting Coordinator may speak with any combination of parties, counsel, and

          collateral contacts (including but not limited to therapists, teachers, caregivers, relatives,

          friends and employers) outside of the presence of other parties or counsel.

7.4     The Parenting Coordinator shall not communicate ex parte to the court except in the case of an

          emergency as stated above.

7.5     Further, the Parenting Coordinator’s notes and transcriptions of communications between

          confidential sources and notes with the children shall be kept confidential and are not subject

          to discovery or subpoena, unless required to do so by the Judge, if the Parenting Coordinator

          determines it would not be in the best interest of the children or the parties.

7.6    The Parenting Coordinator may communicate with the parties’ children outside the presence

          of the parties.  The Parenting Coordinator may communicate with the therapists who are

          treating the parties’ children.  If the Parenting Coordinator is of the opinion that the   

          information or notes generated by the Parenting Coordinator’s communication with the

          children or with the children’s therapists contain information that may be detrimental to the

          children or that may be damaging to the children’s relationship with his or her therapist or

          with either parent, the Parenting Coordinator may withhold that information in her

          discretion.  If either parent wishes to review such information, a review may only be

          allowed on a noticed Motion, after an in camera review of the information by the Court, in

         consultation with the Parenting Coordinator.  If, after such a review, the Judge agrees with

         the Parenting Coordinator that the divulging of such information could be detrimental to the

         children or damaging to the children’s relationship with his or her therapist or either parent,

         the Court may order that such information need not be divulged. 

7.7    If necessary the P.C. may function as a communication conduit between the two parties until

         they are able to successfully do so without the assistance of their Parenting Coordinator.

7.8   The Parenting Coordinator’s findings are not confidential, and the Parenting Coordinator may

         exercise her discretion to convey information to any caseworker, evaluator, therapist or

         judicial officer.  The Parenting Coordinator may not casually communicate information

         learned in her performance of these responsibilities to those who are not involved with the

         family matter requiring determination or recommendation. 

7.9    The parties must provide all reasonable records, documentation, and information requested

         by the Parenting Coordinator.

7.10  No attorney-client relationship or privilege is created between the Parenting Coordinator

         and the parties by this Consent Order. When the parenting coordinator is a mental health

         provider the parties recognize that no legal information is being offered but rather

         experience.  Therefore, the parties are encouraged to discuss all legal matters with their

         counsel. 

8.     Reporting required by _________ State Law

8.1   Mandated Reporting.  _________law requires that all health care practitioners (Physicians,

        Marriage Counselors, Family and Child Counselors, Psychologists, Teachers, Social Workers

        and others) report to Child Protective Services any information regarding suspected child

        abuse. A parenting coordinator, including an attorney PC is a child advocate and therefore

        shall be mandated to report.

8.2   False Allegations of Child Abuse.  It is recognized that high-conflict cases have a higher rate

        of false allegations.  However, the parenting coordinator shall use their professional judgment

        in making any report for possible abuse.

8.3   Immunity for Child Abuse Reporting.  Health care practitioners who are required to report

        allegations of child abuse are immune from civil suits or liability for making their required

        reports.  They may not be sued either for the report or for the violation of the confidentiality

        privilege.  Specific statutes provide for the immunity for civil suits and also provide an

        exception to the confidentiality privilege.  Others, including attorney Parenting Coordinators,

        are also immune from prosecution, civil suits, or liability for good-faith reporting of

        suspected child abuse. 

9.     Stipulation as to Resolution of Disputes with the Parenting Coordinator

9.1   The parties, in consenting to entry of this order, stipulate and agree that they will make every

        effort to resolve disputes they may have with the Parenting Coordinator regarding any  

        recommendations or actions arising out of performance of the role of Parenting Coordinator in

        this matter.

9.2   Neither party may complain about the Parenting Coordinator to any licensing board or file a

        civil suit without first meeting and conferring with the Parenting Coordinator in an effort to    

        resolve the grievance.  If no resolution is reached, the parties and the Parenting Coordinator

        must attend a judicially supervised Settlement Conference on the Court’s regularly scheduled

        Settlement Conference calendar before any action is undertaken in Court or with a licensing

        board.

9.3   Further, if either party files any form of complaint, suit or grievance against the Parenting

        Coordinator, he/she agrees to fully compensate and reimburse the Parenting Coordinator for

        her time and expenses incurred in defending any frivolous complaints ("frivolous" is defined

        as a complaint that is dismissed as unfounded), including attorney fees.

10.    Privilege Does Not Apply

10.1  The parties understand that the Parenting Coordinator is not acting as therapist or attorney to

         the parties, and as such, no client-therapist relationship is established with the Parenting

         Coordinator, and that communication is not privileged.

11.    Notification and Information to Parenting Coordinator

11.1  This order shall not be entered until signed by the Parenting Coordinator.

11.2   Immediately after entry, counsel for the parties shall telephone the Parenting Coordinator to

          provide notice of her appointment.  Within seven days of entry, counsel shall mail the

          Parenting Coordinator a true copy of this order.

11.4   If, after entry of this order, pleadings or orders related to custody or parenting issues are filed,

          counsel shall mail copies to the Parenting Coordinator at the time of filing with the court.

12.    Compensation of Parenting Coordinator

 

12.1  The Parenting Coordinator shall be compensated at the rate of $_____ per hour, except for

          court preparation and appearances, which are billed at $______hour. Travel time to and from

          court and other required appearances are billed at $_____per hour. Annual fee increases, if

          any, shall automatically go into effect upon thirty (30) days’ advance notice to the parties.

12.2   Fees will be shared by the parties, with Plaintiff paying ­­­____ percent and Defendant

          paying ____ percent. Time spent in interviewing, report preparation, review of records and

          correspondence, telephone conversation, travel, court preparation and any other time

          invested in connection with serving as Parenting Coordinator will also be billed at the

          hourly rate.

12.3    The Parenting Coordinator will be reimbursed for any expenses she incurs in association

          with her role as Parenting Coordinator.  These costs may include, but are not limited to,    

          photocopies, messenger services, reading and responding to email correspondence, long

          distance telephone and fax charges, express or certified mail costs, parking, tolls, mileage,

          other travel expenses and for any other service.

12.4    Each of the parties shall pay a retainer of $_____ to the Parenting Coordinator within 5 days

          of the filing of this Order. When the retainer balance falls below $_____, the parties shall

          replenish the retainer.  If for any reason, the parties fall behind and have a balance they shall

          receive a __% finance charge. 

12.5    Since the process of parenting coordination is not therapy no third party insurance reimbursement  may
           be accepted.

12.6    Each party shall pay the full fee for their own intake appointment, spouses intake and any coaching   
           sessions

12.7    Any emergencies shall be split at the discretion of the parenting coordinator

12.8    The fees for status memos, even non-compliance memos shall be equally shared.

12.9    The Parenting Coordinator shall not be required to perform additional services after all retainer
            payments are exhausted, unless the parties agree to pay additional retainers.

12.10      The Parenting Coordinator shall not be required to perform any services until the retainers have been
             paid.

12.11      If, a balance occurs, the parties shall pay the additional fees within ten (10) days of the receipt of
            a bill sent for other services, as above.   Any objection to the Parenting 
Coordinator’s bills must
            be  brought to her attention in writing within ten (10) business d
ays of the billing date; otherwise,
            the billing is deemed agreed to and collectable.

12.12      If arbitration proceedings or a legal action become necessary to enforce any provision of this
           order, the non-prevailing party must pay any attorney fees and costs that are incurred.  
The Court
           reserves jurisdiction in the family law action to enforce the provisions of this 
Consent Order. 

12.13      If there is any retainer balance at the conclusion of the Parenting Coordinator's work, the 
             Parenting Coordinator shall return the balance to the parties when the Parenting Coordinator 
       
     deems the work complete.

12.14     The Parenting Coordinator shall report to the Court in writing, with a copy sent to both parties and
            both counsel, concerning a party's apparent failure to cooperate in making such 
payments as are
           or may become due under this Order, and the Court shall have the 
continuing authority under the
           _________  Rules of Civil Procedure to sanction a party for 
non-cooperation.

12.15     A specific breakdown of fees, including court retainer requirements may be provided by the
            
parenting coordinator.

12.16      The Parenting Coordinator has the discretion to charge the parties for appointments cancelled with
             less than 24 hours notice to both the PC and the other parent. 

12.17   The parenting coordinator may adjust the fee of each party based upon other circumstances 
            such as one party coming to joint meetings more than ten minutes late, for inappropriate

     behavior and misuse of the time during their joint meetings, and other reasons deemed

     appropriate by the parenting coordinator.  The parenting coordinator shall have the right to

     reallocate payment of her fees in her discretion, for example if she believes the need for

     her services is attributable to the unreasonable conduct and/or intransigence of one party,

     or if one party makes legitimate but disproportionate use of services.

13.      Parenting Coordinator As Witness.

          The Parenting Coordinator shall not be required to testify at any hearing, deposition or trial

          between the parties, except under court order. 

14.     Term of Appointment

14.1  The Parenting Coordinator's term begins when the order has been signed by the judge and

         retainer has been paid by each party.     The term of this appointment shall be for a period of

         24 months after this order is signed. This term may be extended for successive 12-month terms

         with the consent of the parties and the Parenting Coordinator.  No court order shall be required. 

14.2  Written notice of parties’ intent not to extend the term shall be given prior to the beginning of

         the next term, otherwise services continued to be performed by the Parenting Coordinator

         beyond the term shall be subject to payment until written notice of intent not to extend the

         term is received.

14.3  The Parenting Coordinator may consider any matters submitted to her prior to the expiration

         of her term.  The Parenting Coordinator shall, if appropriate in her opinion, issue a written

         recommendation with regard to any matters under consideration at the time of expiration of            

         the term.

14.4  The parenting coordinator can be discharged by the Court or by the end of a term.

15.     Parenting Coordinator’s Right to Withdraw

15.1   The Parenting Coordinator may resign for any reason at any time upon 30 days’ notice to both 
          parties.

15.2   The Parenting Coordinator reserves the right to withdraw at any time for non-payment of fees,

          without 30 days’ notice as required elsewhere in this agreement. The parenting coordinator is

          not obligated to prepare any documentation or reports if the fees have not been paid.           The  

          Parenting Coordinator need not provide advance notice of resignation for non-

          payment of fees, harassment by either party, or unreasonable, harassing or disrespectful

          behavior of either attorney toward the Parenting Coordinator, who has sole authority to

          designate it as such.

15.3   The Parenting Coordinator may issue a recommendation with regard to any matters under
          consideration at the time of resignation or end of the Parenting 
Coordinator’s term.

15.4   If the Parenting Coordinator resigns, counsel for the parties shall attempt to agree on a

          replacement.  If they are unable to agree upon the next parenting coordinator then they

          shall allow the current PC to select the replacement.  The Parenting Coordinator

          reserves the right to confer with any subsequent Parenting Coordinators, under any

          circumstance, and bill for their time, to ensure continuity of care for the parties and child(ren)

          prior to the commencement of the service of the new Parenting Coordinator.

           

16.     Right to a Hearing

          By their signatures below, the parties acknowledge their understanding that if either or

          both object to a written recommendation by the Parenting Coordinator, they have the right

          to a hearing on the disputed matter before the judge assigned to their case .

                                                                               ___________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Circuit Judge

Approved:                                                                   Approved:

________________________________                    __________________________________

Attorney for Plaintiff                                                  Attorney for Defendant

________________________________                    __________________________________

Plaintiff                                                                       Defendant

Approved:

_________________________________                  ______/______/_____

Parenting Coordinator                                                                          Date

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