Your constitutional rights to your children are a primary focus for our team. When decisions regarding children’s visitation, school, doctors, or virtually any issue regarding a child go smoothly between divorcing or divorced parents, the entire family benefits. But when a disagreement becomes a deadlock, the entire family suffers. In litigation where such disputes escalate to “high conflict,” Oklahoma law makes provision for a Parenting Coordinator to step into the picture.
Parenting Coordinator’s Role:
“High conflict” pertains to any case involving ongoing litigation, anger between parties, verbal abuse, physical abuse or threats of physical abuse, and/or pervasive trouble communicating and carrying out mutual decisions for the children’s care.
In Oklahoma, a licensed mental health professional or an attorney with experience in handling family law issues may serve as a PC. The PC attorney is neither counsel for either party nor a mediator. Instead, he or she is appointed to resolve issues with co-parenting. Per statute, these include the following:
· Identifying disputes
· Reducing misunderstandings
· Clarifying priorities.
· Facilitating ways to compromise
· Establishing methods of communication between parents
Given these broad powers, parents have the ability to limit or expand the specific issues the PC can address in the Order of appointment.
A PC does not have unlimited power, though. It’s important to remember that this process focuses on building collaboration and peaceful resolution. Although the Order may state that a PC’s decisions are effective immediately without court review, a PC’s powers do not include the following:
· Modify any court Order or judgment in place
· Determine custody or visitation
· Hinder court appointed visitation with a third party
Both Now and Later
A PC provides a neutral voice quickly. It may take months for disputed issues to come to trial, and parents need workable solutions in the meantime. A PC meeting can be scheduled quickly, and recommendations will be issued within twenty days of the meeting, according to statute.
In addition to solutions, a PC can work through difficult relationship dynamics in a way that parties cannot. He or she provides strategies to make communication easier regarding hot-button issues. A PC can also help balance the power between parties in an abusive or controlling relationship.
The solutions can be provided quickly, and they have lasting impact. Co-parenting starts with communication, and in difficult or tough cases, that process often starts with a PC. The guidelines and strategies set now have long-lasting effects on your family and your children’s future well-being.
Our attorneys have extensive experience both serving as Parenting Coordinators who consistently lead clients and their families to mutually agreeable resolutions in high conflict cases and working with appointed Parenting Coordinators during the course of litigation. Contact us to discuss exploring this option in your family law case.