(This is the first of a two part series about parenting coordinator qualifications, use, and duties)
What is a Parenting Coordinator?
In the state of Maryland, a “parenting coordinator” is defined as “an impartial provider of parenting coordination service,” under Maryland Rule 9-205.2(b)(1).
What is Parenting Coordination?
“Parenting coordination” refers to a process during, or post divorce, where the parents work with a “parenting coordinator” in the best interests of the child. The intention is to identify and reduce the potential or actual effects of conflict on children of divorce.
When is a Parenting Coordinator Used?
There are a few different ways a parenting coordinator may get involved. For example, particularly in cases wherein the parents are having difficulty in making decisions regarding the child or the children, the parents may jointly agree to using a parenting coordinator to assist in decision making. Alternatively, the court may, on their own motion, appoint a parenting coordinator for the parties.
Does the Parenting Coordinator Have Special Education Requirements?
There are number of qualifications for parenting coordinators. First, a parenting coordinator in the state of Maryland must be at least 21 years of age. Additionally, parenting coordinators must hold a bachelors’ degree from an accredited university or college. On top of that, they must hold a graduate degree in psychology, counseling, social work, conflict management, negotiation, or a related subject matter area of study. Alternatively, a parenting coordinator can hold a post graduate degree from either medical school or law school.
Shouldn’t a Parenting Coordinator Have Some Experience as Well?
Yes! Parenting coordinators, in addition to education requirements, have experience requirements. In the state of Maryland, parenting coordinators must have at least three years of professional experience related to the tasks involved in parenting coordination after they receive their post graduate degree. Additionally, in areas where a professional license is required to practice, such as law or medicine, the parenting coordinator must have a current license.
What about Training to be a Parenting Coordinator?
In order to be a parenting coordinator, one must participate in at least 20 hours of training in family mediation. In addition, they must attend at least 40 hours of specialty training in relevant topics, such as parenting coordination, conflict coaching, dynamics of high conflict families, developmental stages of children, parenting skills, family violence dynamics, problems solving techniques, as well as understanding the stages and effects of divorce on the parties, including on the children.
Is Ongoing Training Also Required?
Yes. Each year, all parenting coordinators must complete an additional four hours of continuing education at a minimum in one of the topics discussed in the training section of this blog post. Continuing education also addresses any recent developments in the area of family law. These continuing education courses require approval by the Administrative Office of the Courts, which maintain a list of the courses approved.
How are Parenting Coordinators Identified?
Once a person has met the qualifications, the rules require they submit an application in the circuit court for the counties where the person seeks potential appointments. If the applicant establishes they do, in fact, meet the qualifications of the rule, the family services coordinator puts the applicant’s name on the list, as well as their qualifications, trainings, years of experience, etc. This is public information, according to the law.
Can We Decide to Use a Parenting Coordinator by Agreement
Agreement and Court Order
If the parties agree using a parenting coordinator is in their best interests, as well as the best interests of their child or children, the court can enter an order to that effect. In this circumstance, the parties agree a parenting coordinator will assist the parties in addressing either current, existing conflicts, or future conflicts, regarding the responsibilities of the parties for the child, as well as access to the child or children. The parties jointly request the court order. The court will grant the order if they find the parenting coordinator proposed has the required qualifications, as well as the following additional conditions:
- The parties make the request in writing;
- An identified parenting coordinator signs off on the request along with the parties;
- The request details the services of the parenting coordinator;
- The request includes the details regarding the limitations of access to confidential and/or privileged information as it relates to the child and the parents;
- Limitations of the use of confidential and/or privileged information by the parenting coordinator are documented;
- The rate of compensation the parenting coordinator expects; and
- Using a parenting coordinator is in the best interests of the child.
Agreement and Use without a Court Order
The Committee for Maryland Rule 9-205.2 notes a court order is not required for parties to agree to use a parenting coordinator during or after a divorce. The above requirements are necessary when the court orders the use of a parenting coordinator. However, if the parties agree on their own, the parties do not need court approval.
If You Have Children and are Considering a Divorce
If you have children, and are considering a divorce, you probably have questions. Most people have certain, preconceived notions about child custody and child support. However, many times, these notions are based on anecdotes, “television divorces,” and other information not actually consistent with Maryland law. At Fait & DiLima, our expertise is divorce law and family law exclusively. We recognize you want what is best for your children and your family. We also recognize divorce often brings up feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal. Sometimes, this temporarily clouds parents’ judgment. Our experience allows us to step in and help you calm the storm. We focus on divorcing as quickly and conflict free as possible. Contact us at 301-251-0100 for a consultation to discuss your case. We have offices in both Rockville and Fredrick.