What is the role of a Parenting Coordinator in Washington?

The Role of a Parenting Coordinator in Washington State

In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, establishing a stable and functional co-parenting arrangement can be one of the most challenging aspects for parents to manage. In Washington State, this is where the role of a Parenting Coordinator (PC) becomes pivotal. A PC is a neutral third party appointed by the court to assist parents in resolving disputes concerning their children and to facilitate the implementation of their parenting plan.

Parenting Coordinators are typically experienced professionals with backgrounds in family law, psychology, or social work. They are trained to handle high-conflict situations and are well-versed in the developmental needs of children. The overarching goal of a PC is to help parents navigate post-separation parenting issues, with the best interests of the child as the guiding principle.

Key Responsibilities of a Parenting Coordinator

The use of Parenting Coordinators in Washington has historical roots in family law practices that emphasize alternative dispute resolution methods. Rather than resorting to litigation for every disagreement, PCs offer a more collaborative and less adversarial approach to resolving issues outside of court.

When is a Parenting Coordinator Appointed?

The court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator when it deems necessary, often in high-conflict cases where parents are unable to resolve disputes on their own. The appointment is usually made under RCW 26.09.220, which outlines family law procedures in Washington State. Both parties must agree to the PC's authority or the court must order it as part of its ruling.

Significance and Benefits

The involvement of a Parenting Coordinator can significantly reduce the emotional toll on children caught in parental conflicts. By fostering a more harmonious co-parenting relationship, PCs help create a stable environment for children post-divorce. Additionally, they alleviate the court's caseload by resolving minor disputes outside of formal proceedings.

In conclusion, Parenting Coordinators play an essential role in helping separated families in Washington State navigate the complexities of co-parenting. Their expertise not only supports parents but also protects the welfare of children affected by familial transitions.