Updated By: John R. Coleman, Jr.
Coleman, Chambers, Rogers & Williams, LLP
This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended, nor should be construed to provide legal advice.
This article was originally written by Anne K. Banford, a former attorney of this firm in April 2011 and has since been updated by John R. Coleman, Jr. (Bob). Due to the volume of Family Law cases entering the Court system, the Courts have turned to GAL and Parenting Coordinators to assist with investigating cases and resolving conflicts between parents. The main difference between a Guardian ad Litem and a Parenting Coordinator is that the Parenting Coordinator works mostly with the parents to assist them in learning to co-parent. A Guardian ad Litem's focus is to be a representative for the children.
Research shows, children subject to constant parental conflict typically have a difficult time adjusting following a divorce. The creation and growth of Parenting Coordinators have assisted children in addressing and resolving issues between high conflict parents.
A Parenting Coordinator is an individual who works directly with the parents to focus on what is in the best interest of the children. The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts defines a Parent Coordination as a "child focused alternative dispute resolution process, in which a mental health or legal professional with mediation training and experience assists high conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by:
- facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner;
- educating parents about children's needs, and;
- with prior approval of the parties and/or the Court, making decisions within the scope of the Court Order or appointment contract.
The overall objective of a Parent Coordinator is to help high conflict parents transition their parenting plan into action, monitor the parties' compliance with the plan, and assist in resolving disputes in a timely manner to help protect and sustain healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships. A Parenting Coordinator can assist in trying to restore the parents' relationship to a point the parents can work through their conflicts constructively for the benefit of the children.
Georgia residents need to understand that working with a Parenting Coordinator is a non-confidential process. The Parenting Coordinator can make reports to the attorneys, the Georgia courts, and can testify in court as to events which have occurred. It is not the Parenting Coordinator's job to make a custody recommendation. However, the information from the Parenting Coordinator such as how the child is functioning and reports on the parents' behavior may assist the court in making such a decision.
The legal process sometimes creates and feeds the hostility of the parties instead of resolving disputes because a court case takes so long to work through the judicial system. A Parent Coordinator can be agreed to by the parties or in some cases appointed by the court. This person is trained to facilitate communication and to assist individuals in working through the intense emotions that typically accompany custody cases. A Parenting Coordinator can be used during the divorce process or even after a divorce to assist the family in adjusting to the new family dynamic. You should consult with a family law lawyer regarding the specific facts of your situation. The attorneys at Coleman, Chambers, Rogers & Williams, LLP are family law and parenting plan lawyers in Gainesville, GA that are ready to discuss your options. Please call 678-928-5757.
To learn more about how our parenting plan and visitation lawyers can help you in: Hall County (Gainesville), Dawson County (Dawsonville), White County, Forsyth County (Cumming), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Union County, Habersham County (Cornelia, Clarkesville, Baldwin), Towns County (Hiawassee), Stephens County (Toccoa), Rabun County (Clayton), Banks County (Homer), Fulton County (Atlanta), Gwinnett (Lawrenceville, Buford) and Jackson County (Jefferson). Please call the family law attorneys at Coleman, Chambers, Rogers & Williams, LLP to discuss your options. Please call 678-928-5757.