THE LIZ LIBRARY: Parenting Coordinator

The Parenting Coordinator Concept
A lack of research, a lot of self-interested trade promotion. Also see article
Parenting Coordination, a bad idea and
Parenting Coordination Issues

The URL for this webpage is:

Petty Tyranny, judge/boss wannabes, neighborhood yentas... Here's an example from

"...Consequently, the co-parents improve at finding loopholes in agreements, while avoiding accountability. They are uncanny in getting various professionals in the system to argue amongst each other. Eventually, these characterlogically disordered co-parents learn that the Parenting Coordinator only has the power to help them mediate conflict and the co-parents aren't interested in that, only in controlling, and hurting their co-parent, while gaining control and satisfaction in the process. Also, they grow wary of the process because they believe that PC doesn't work, saying in exasperation, 'there is no accountability'. Interestingly, this is a retort said not looking in the mirror, but pointing their finger at the co-parent sitting across from them in my office.

"Eventually the process disintegrates into co-parent accusations of Parenting Coordinator incompetence, bias, and collusion with the divorce industry. I've heard many of complaints including, 'I've lost respect for you, you have no power to do anything about this", 'If we are supposed to be meeting with you to keep us out of court why has [my co-parent] taken me to court time and time again while meeting with you? This makes no sense to me, we now get to pay lawyers fees and your fees. I guess that works well for you guys.'

"This disintegrating process is frustrating for Parenting Coordinators like me. I am interested in solving problems rather than being powerless in the middle of problems..."

Convenient, no-lose, blame-the-parents idea when it only makes things worse! Incredible. Get divorced, and this yahoo advocates that you become subject to the equivalent of dependency court. Here's a father expressing how sorry he is at having gone this route, at

"...the second meeting we had she made a point along with the EX to attack everything we had to say, demanded that we keep our mouths shut while the other party talked yet the other party could interupt us while we were talking...This lady has been a night mare for us... I thought the whole reason for having a med. was to make things go smoothly, no stress, and take BOTH sides into consideration..."

Another parenting coordinator opines (wonder if this guy even has any parenting experience himself). It's a psychic vampire's wet dream,

"Sanctions -- A final element in the systemic approach is the appropriate use of sanctions. The [parenting coordinator] can, and in most cases must, insist on certain behaviors such as the restoration of civility in communication. The PC must be able to decide on discrete changes to parenting time, exchange procedures, and restrictions to parenting time through the judicious use of sanctions." -- Bill J. Fyfe's Spring-2001 newsletter essay "A Systemic Approach to Entrenched High Conflict Divorce"

Think carefully before you consent to this nonsense; don't allow it without a fight. Also from divorcesource, at

"Both parents wanted the child to participate in cheerleading. The coordinator decided against cheerleading! She felt the parents were setting the wrong priorities and that the child needed to understand that parenting time was more important than social activities.

"The coordinator also told the judge that the child was a "mediocre" student and that the parents needed to understand that they should be putting more of the energy into supporting their child academically and worry less about social activities.

"The parents' joint motion was for the parenting coordinator to be dismissed and they each filed additional motions: hers asking that visitation be set 45min later. His asking that pickup is allowed at school.

"The judge dismissed all 3 motions in favor of the coordinator stating it was in the best interests of the child..."

It is difficult to imagine a more
stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than to put those decisions in the hands of 
people who pay no price for being wrong. Of course you can find opinions going both ways. But is that how you want to handle your case, with an unaccountable dictator whose personal opinions will be a crap shoot? Why not just flip a coin... And don't underestimate the power of commercial websites and trade organizations putting out opinions -- or "researching" and evaluating their own money-making ideas!

Parenting coordination (by other names) is not that new, of course. In California, home of the AFCC, special masters and recommending mediators have been causing problems for many years. (California is the state that in the olden days before no-fault divorce had the psychologist-dominated reconciliation courts, the downfall of which courts led to the creation of the AFCC and "therapeutic jurisprudence" initiatives to market the same mental health services in divorce courts.) These people also are called "wise persons" and "case managers" in some states. From another website, parents complaining:

"Last May, 2008 my husband had told the Parenting Coordinator assisgned to his case that he was going to ask the Wayne County (Detroit) Court to remove her from the case because she made 2 binding decisions regarding his daughter with his former wife. In both cases she made these decisions without his input, only used info. provided by his ex-wife, and refused to meet with him (that's a whole different situation-not my question). The Parenting Coordinator was irate with my husband when he told her this, via telephone, told him off and hung up on him. Though their Agreement to Arbitrate clearly stated what she could and could not do, she decided that she was going to "temporarily suspend his parenting time" after he told her he was going to ask that she be removed, this was clearly addressed in the agreement as something she could not do. When my husband got to see the Judge a few weeks later he decided to allow the Parenting Coordinators Decision to stand, but that he was going to have a Guardian Ad Litem investigate the matter.

"We recently found out that the Judge's Law Clerk, was in fact, also the "husband" of the Parenting Coordinator..."

And look at the double standards:

QUESTION ON PSYLAW-L LISTSERVE, June 29, 2010: "I was wondering if I could have the sage advice of those on the list. I have a case of a man who daughter (15 months) is about to be put up for adoption... history of harassing... The issue now is post adoption contact and whether he should be allowed photographs of his daughter annually..."

ANSWER ON PSYLAW-L LISTSERVE, June 29, 2010: "Your question addresses the risk of stalking harm to the girl. There are other risks to consider as well, most notably the potential for impairment of the adopting parents' sense of security around making authoritative decisions about the girl. I'd recommend leaving it up to them, as I would any parenting decision not clearly right or wrong. Besides fostering a normal parenting relationship around decision-making, this policy also fosters a normal parenting relationship around allowing the girl to know whom to complain to if that time comes."

Even if you think it's all well-intentioned, consider this: "...Why do well intentioned people trying in all honesty and effort to accomplish organizational missions make terrible decisions... Groupthink, where bad decision making behind closed doors by 'the few' adversely affect the many, is a scary part of group behavior. Why? Because the symptoms of it are a part of everyday organizational behavior. Groupthink happens in various forms, all the time. When a group gets together to accomplish a task within a finite amount of time, they must limit the arguments (dissent), believe they are moral, hold off competitors, and ultimately, create the illusion of unanimity within its stakeholders."

2010 article on Florida's Shared Parenting law by Judge Corbin RECOMMENDED READING

  • MARGARET DORE: Parenting Evaluators and GALs: Caselaw Tactics and Strategies
  • Child Custody and Visitation in Domestic Violence Situations

  • Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
  • DVLeap brief in 2010 case (Washington, DC) arguing some of the constitutional issues     More from DVLeap
  • "The Court's parenting coordinator orders unconsitutionally delegate judicial power and violate due process... The Special Master Order's requirement that Appellant pay for the parenting coordinators to whom she objects violates law and public policy... The Special Master Order requiring Appellant to waive her medical privilege violates her statutory and constitutional rights to privacy..."

  • Martindale, D. A., False promise of parenting coordination, Matrimonial Strategist, 25:8 (2007)
  • "...a forum in which sniping can continue unabated... [M]ost jurisdictions do not sufficiently address issues of due process... When neither evidentiary rules nor due process protections apply ... the probability of unjust decisions is increased... Can those who are being paid to render a service objectively evaluate the need for or effectiveness of that service... we must not lose sight of the various elements of the process that create a risk of iatrogenic harm."

  • Delegation of Judicial Authority to Experts, A. G. Behjani, 2007 Utah L. Rev. 823
  • CCFC Amicus Brief, Tadros v. Doyne (discovery issues, due process undermined by psych practitioners)
  • Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush explains 2004 veto of parenting coordinator legislation
  • Lobbying Paper for Florida Senate, 2004-5
  • "Final Report" of the FlaAFCC Taskforce lobbying for parenting coordination legislation, 2007
  • Example of unconstitutional judicial mandate for involuntary PC appointment (Florida)
  • Sample Order of Referral to Parenting Coordinator (Florida)
  • Article on parenting coordination bill in Florida and domestic violence
  • New Hampshire Parenting Coordination Handbook
  • AFCC Parenting Coordinator Guidelines (aspirational generalities, no malfeasance oversight)
  • (Hastings case malfeasance)
  • Out of control parenting coordinator and a recused judge who relied on him (Wade case, FL 3rd DCA, 2013)
  • Decision includes information about judicial bias warranting recusal as well as guidance on what constitutes an inappropriate referral for a psychological evaluation. The Florida judge relied on the ridiculous musings of parenting coordinator Chicago attorney Howard Rosenberg. (Good work by Lisa Macci, attorney for the mom.)

  • How to Represent Parents Accused of Child Abuse (Florida Bar CLE) (hint, hint)
  • CASE MANAGERS -- an obscene concept (April 2012 article Kansas)
  • Kansas brief on this CASE MANAGEMENT case, Karen Williams
  • Shrinks Gone Wild Willick Law Group, Nevada
  • Shrinks Gone Wild 2 Willick Law Group, Nevada


    Gestational Surrogacy and other Logical Fallacies and Legal Fictions


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