Parenting Coordination

A parenting coordinator, often a mental health professional, assists parents who are separated or divorced, manage their Parenting Plan. A parenting coordinator practices mediation and arbitration as an alternative dispute resolution option (ADR). A parenting coordinator can help resolve family-related issues in a timely and affordable manner.


If your question or concern about parenting coordination is not answered here, we invite you to contact us by phone or email. All communications will be kept strictly confidential.

How does a Parenting Coordinator help?

Parenting coordinators can help:

  • Reduce stress for children as their lives are being restructured
  • Decrease family conflict
  • Lower stress between separating or divorcing couples
  • Ensure timely implementation of a Parenting Plan
  • Avoid drawn out court battles
What is Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR?

ADR provides processes and techniques for disagreeing parties to come to an agreement short of litigation. ADR has gained widespread acceptance among both the general public and the legal profession in recent years. In fact, Ontario courts now require some parties to resort to ADR of some type before permitting the parties’ cases to be tried.


ADR’s rising popularity can be explained by the increasing caseload of traditional courts, the fact that ADR imposes fewer costs than litigation, a preference for confidentiality, and the desire of some parties to have greater control over the selection of the individual or individuals who will decide their dispute.

How does Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) affect divorcing couples in Ontario?

In the summer of 2011, the Attorney General implemented a program whereby divorcing couples are required to attend an information session to introduce them to alternatives to litigation.


Increasingly separated and divorced couples will have the option to seek alternative dispute resolution avenues. Parent coordination is secondary arbitration when couples are questioning some aspect of their separation agreement or award.

When do separated or divorced parents need a Parenting Coordinator?

Parenting coordinators help separated or divorced parents manage their Parenting Plan and assist parents whenever they have difficulty agreeing on children-related issues including:


  • Time Sharing Arrangements
  • Routines Between Homes
  • Babysitting Or Daycare
  • Transportation Or Exchange Plans
  • Extra-Curricular Activity Arrangements
  • Educational Needs
  • Discipline Strategies
  • Clothing, Equipment Or Personal Possessions Of Children
  • Planning For Travel With Children
  • Planning Special Occasions Or Events
  • Broadly, To Resolve Concerns Related To Any Parenting Issues Raised By The Parents Or Ordered By The Court
What is the role of the Parenting Coordinator?

Separated or divorced parents often have a Domestic Contract or Parenting Plan which provides direction on how their family will function. Sometimes questions arise in following these directions. The parenting coordinator can act as a mediator-arbitrator for day-to-day conflicts or propose adjustments to the parenting plan. A parenting coordinator will help resolve family-related issues in a timely and affordable manner.

What can you expect when you meet with a Parenting Coordinator?

The parenting coordinator meets with both parents and works with them to reach a solution and/or to determine how to manage their Parenting Plan. Through discussion several resolution options will be explored. Parents maintain control of what solution options are considered. The final decision, if they can reach one, is the solution they both agree on.


At times, parents simply cannot agree on a solution. In these cases the parenting coordinator will arbitrate the decision based on input from the parents and in the best interests of the child.

How do we begin with a Parenting Coordinator?

Lawyers often refer parents for parenting coordination services or parents can agree together to use this service as long as the domestic contract, separation agreement or parenting plan has an ADR clause that allows for an alternative dispute resolution option.

What is an Alternative Dispute Resolution Clause (ADR Clause)?

Your domestic contract, separation agreement or parenting plan will have an alternative dispute resolution clause in order to access Parenting Coordination. It may read something like this:


“If a dispute arises out of this contract, and if the dispute cannot be settled through negotiation, the parties agree first to try in good faith to settle the dispute by mediation -arbitration before resorting to some other dispute resolution procedure such as litigation.”


If you do not already have such a clause, please speak with your lawyer. It is an important clause that ensures that you have the option to pursue any number of potential dispute resolution avenues instead of only being able to resolve issues with lawyers through the court system.

How do I hire a Parenting Coordinator?

The court may order you to work with a Parenting Coordinator, your lawyer may refer you to a Parenting Coordinator, or you may seek one to hire on your own. Both parents have to agree to use a Parenting Coordinator and agree on which one to hire. Most often, one parent will canvas and suggest 3-5 Parenting Coordinators that they are willing to work with and the other parent chooses from that list. Once a Parenting Coordinator is chosen, the parents undergo an assessment to determine if the family is appropriate for PC work and, if so, how to best plan for working with your family.

What are the advantages of a parenting coordinator vs. Family Court system?

There are several advantages to working with a parenting coordinator including:


  • Parent coordination is the only method of resolution when all other methods have failed for high conflict couples
  • The parenting coordinator acts both as a mediator and arbitrator and can make binding decisions on time-sensitive issues bypassing the need to wait for a distant court date
  • Parenting coordinator decisions are binding and once filed become fully enforceable addendums to the agreement or award
  • The parenting coordinator can preserve the privacy of the proceedings unlike the public forum of the Family Court System
  • Clients can choose their parenting coordinator and exercise more control over the process
  • Clients cannot choose which judge hears their case in the Family Court System
Are parenting coordinators less expensive than lawyers?

Absolutely! The average hourly fee for a Parenting Coordinator is very often less than the fee for a family lawyer. Like lawyers, an initial retainer is required from each parent for Parenting Coordinator service and all unused proceeds are refunded.


While working with a Parenting Coordinator parents can remain more in control of how their time and money is used. Through discussion of a parenting problem several resolution options are explored and the parents can continue to explore solutions for as long as they wish. The final decision, if they can reach one, is the solution they both agree on. If the parents cannot agree on a solution, the Parenting Coordinator will arbitrate the decision based on input from the parents and in the best interests of the child. Arbitration is quite frequently shorter in duration and much less expensive than attending court to litigate an impasse.


Working with a parenting coordinator is most likely to result in a decision that the parents like or at least feel they have contributed to making. And, the communication skills parents develop in this process may be helpful for future decision making or problem solving.