Why would I want to use a parenting coordinator?

A parenting coordinator (PC) is a court appointed third party who is given quasi-judicial authority and remains involved after the court has entered either an initial order or a modification/order of contempt on your current case. Maricopa County has a roster of different available parenting coordinators. If you check out the list, you will see that there are a wide variety of backgrounds, training and styles that a parenting coordinator may have.

Are you in a high conflict case involving children? Do you and your ex fight about every exchange or extracurricular activity? Do you feel the other parent is constantly trying to undermine your every move? Does your ex violate the court ordered parenting plan constantly? If so, you may want to consider requesting a parenting coordinator.

The statutes allow for the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator if:

  1. the parents are persistently in conflict with one another;
  2. there is a history of substance abuse by either parent or family violence;
  3. there are serious concerns about the mental health or behavior of either parent;
  4. a child has special needs; or
  5. it would otherwise be in the children’s best interests to do so.

In order to get on the list, a person must be a psychiatrist, psychologist, behavioral therapist, nurse or nurse practitioner or an attorney. In addition to the licensure required above they must have received at least six hours of both domestic violence and child abuse training and receive ongoing training in these areas. Additionally, each PC must receive additional forensic training on issues like child development, alienation of children, relocation issues, high conflict families, impact of high conflict on children, adults, and families, report writing, family court law, cultural diversity, interviewing and assessment skills, role boundaries, informed consent, mandated reporting of abuse, and testimonial issues.

Since each PC brings a unique background, it is important to determine your needs and your particular situation prior to selecting a PC.

How do I get a Parenting Coordinator?

You can request the court appoint a parenting coordinator. You and your ex can stipulate to a specific parenting coordinator or if there are two attorneys on a case, they can work together to select a parenting coordinator who is a good fit for your issues. The Maricopa County Superior court roster will show you where the providers are physically located on a map and how much they cost.

How much do Parenting Coordinators Cost and who pays for them?

PCs typically charge anywhere between $200 and $400 per hour and are paid for by the parties either equally or in some proportion to their incomes. While this is expensive, it is usually less expensive and more effective than both people paying attorneys. It is also faster than waiting for a Judge to weigh in on your specific issue.

Here is the complete text of Rule 74 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure that provides all of the details surrounding PCs.

Determination of Need for Parenting Coordinator and Appointment. Prior to, simultaneously with, or after entry of a decree, judgment, or custody or parenting time order, at the request of either party or on the court’s own motion, the court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator in any proceeding under Title 25, A.R.S., involving children if it finds any of the following:

  1. the parents are persistently in conflict with one another;
  2. there is a history of substance abuse by either parent or family violence;
  3. there are serious concerns about the mental health or behavior of either parent;
  4. a child has special needs; or
  5. it would otherwise be in the children’s best interests to do so.

Parents may agree to use a Parenting Coordinator and agree to a specific person, subject to approval by the court, or the court may make the choice of the person to serve as the Parenting Coordinator.

Persons Who May Serve as Parenting Coordinators. A Parenting Coordinator may be an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Arizona; a psychiatrist who is licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy in Arizona; a psychologist who is licensed to practice psychology in Arizona; a person who is licensed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners as a social worker, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, or substance abuse counselor; any other Arizona licensed or certified professional with education, experience, and special expertise regarding the particular issues referred; or professional staff of conciliation services. The court may prescribe additional requirements for service as Parenting Coordinator.

Term of Service. The term of the Parenting Coordinator will be designated in the Order of Appointment. The Parenting Coordinator may resign upon notice to the parties and order of the court. Absent an order of the court, one or both parties cannot discharge the Parenting Coordinator. Complaints about the Parenting Coordinator shall be addressed in the manner specified in the Order of Appointment. If such complaints remain unresolved after following the procedures specified in the order, a motion may be filed with the court requesting removal of the Parenting Coordinator. The court may terminate the service of the Parenting Coordinator at any time upon finding that there is no longer a need for the assistance of the Parenting Coordinator.

Fees. The court will determine the allocation of fees between the parties. The court may order that the parents pay the Parenting Coordinator a retainer before the Parenting Coordinator begins work with a family. The Parenting Coordinator may recommend to the court an adjustment in the division of payment under special circumstances.

Powers and Scope of Appointment. The court order appointing the Parenting Coordinator shall specify the scope of the appointment. The scope may include assisting with implementation of court orders, making recommendations to the court regarding implementation, clarification, modification, and enforcement of any temporary or permanent custody or parenting time order, and making recommendations on the day-to-day issues experienced by the parties. By way of example only, these issues include disagreements around exchanges, holiday scheduling, discipline, health issues, school and extracurricular activities, and managing problematic behaviors by the parents or child(ren). The Parenting Coordinator shall not have the authority to make a recommendation affecting child support, a change of custody, or a substantial change in parenting time. In the event the Parenting Coordinator determines parenting or family issues or circumstances exist that are significantly detrimental to the welfare of the child(ren) and that a change in custody or a substantial change in parenting time is warranted, the Parenting Coordinator may submit the Parenting Coordinator’s concerns in writing to the parties and the court. Counsel are not permitted to attend parenting coordinator meetings unless agreed to by the parties and the parenting coordinator, or ordered by Court.

Additional Authority of Parenting Coordinator. The Parenting Coordinator may interview all members of the immediate and extended family or household of both parties and the children. To the extent provided in the Order of Appointment, the Parenting Coordinator may interview and request information from any persons who the Parenting Coordinator deems to have relevant information, including doctors, therapists, schools, or other caretakers. The Parenting Coordinator may recommend that the court order the parties or children to participate in ancillary services, to be provided by the court or third parties, including but not limited to physical or psychological examinations or assessments, counseling, and alcohol or drug monitoring and testing. The court shall allocate between the parties the cost of any ancillary services ordered.

Time Sensitive Issue Authority and Procedure. When a short-term, emerging, and time sensitive situation or dispute within the scope of authority of the Parenting Coordinator arises that requires an immediate decision for the welfare of the children and parties, a Parenting Coordinator may make a binding temporary decision. This interim decision shall be made without prejudice and shall not be regarded as precedent as to any future action or procedure for any other dispute. The decision shall be submitted to the assigned judge with a copy to the parties (or counsel, if represented) in a written report that shall document all substantive issues addressed and the basis for the decision for review and entry of any appropriate orders at the judge’s earliest opportunity. Thereafter, the procedures set forth in paragraph H shall apply.

Report. Recommendations by the Parenting Coordinator shall be made or confirmed to the court and parties in a form substantially similar to Form 9, Parenting Coordinator’s Report and Recommendation, which shall be submitted no later than five (5) days after an oral determination or receipt of all information necessary to make a recommendation. A copy of the report will be mailed or transmitted to the parties or their counsel on the date of submission. The report may be transmitted by fax or email to the parties at a fax number or email address provided by the parties to the Parenting Coordinator.

Objection. A party who objects shall clearly state in writing the objection to the recommendation, the basis for the objection, a proposed solution, and whether a hearing is requested. The judicial officer shall set a hearing if requested. If no hearing is requested, the judicial officer may rule on the objection without further hearing. By agreement of the parties or order of the court, the recommendations of the Parenting Coordinator will remain in effect during this objection period and process unless and until it is affected by a further order of the court.

Court Action. The court, upon receipt of a report and recommendation from a Parenting Coordinator, may: (1) approve the recommendation and adopt it as an interim order of the court, subject to either party objecting or requesting a hearing not later than 10 days after the date of filing of the court’s order; (2) modify the recommendation and adopt the modified recommendation as an interim order of the court, subject to either party objecting or requesting a hearing not later than 10 days after the date of filing of the court’s order; (3) reject the recommendation report in whole or in part and affirm the current order, subject to either party objecting or requesting a hearing not later than 10 days after the date of filing of the court’s order; or (4) set a hearing on the assigned judicial officer’s calendar. The court may use Form 10, Order Regarding Parenting Coordinator’s Report and Recommendations, for purposes of this paragraph.

Immunity. The Parenting Coordinator has immunity in accordance with Arizona law as to all acts undertaken pursuant to and consistent with the appointment order of the court.

Applicability. No county is required to employ or utilize Parenting Coordinators; however, in the event a county elects to use Parenting Coordinators, these rules shall apply.

Call 480-649-2905. Schedule a confidential consultation today to discuss a legal solution and options that best fit your budget and situation.