Our practice serves high conflict individuals, couples and families in the Tampa Bay Area. Christine Whittaker, LMFT is highly trained, experienced, and testifies as an expert witness in Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay Area. She is a Qualified Parenting Coordinator in standard, high conflict and advanced parenting coordination; she is also a Qualified as National Parenting Coordinator. Not only is she a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, She is also a Supreme Court Certified Family Divorce Mediator, Social Investigator, Certified Parent Instructor and certified as a Parental Alienation Assessment and Treatment clinician. Her extensive experience, skills, integrity, and compassion helps to embrace and encompass an exceptional understanding of interpersonal familial relationships which allows exceptional individualized services.
What is Parenting Coordination?
Parenting Coordination is a process where an impartial third person, helps high conflict separated or divorced parents implement their parenting plan and resolve disagreements related to cooperatively raising their children. The parenting coordinator can reduce parental conflict by helping parents resolve disputes, provide education, make recommendations, diffuse co-parent conflict and help parents understand how to manage their co-parenting concerns. Issues that a parenting coordinator commonly helps with are: agreeing to an educational or therapy plan for a child to more mundane matters such as holiday schedules, pickup times and locations, or telephone access, understanding appropriate boundaries with boyfriends or girlfriends. A parenting coordinator also provides education regarding the developmental needs of the children and the effects of parental separation on family members, co-parenting, and parental communication. The parenting coordinator monitors compliance with the parenting plan and helps the parents uphold their time-sharing arrangements by recommending or by educating. The parenting coordinator structures effective decision making for the parents, establishes a protocol for problem solving.
Why would I need Parenting Coordination?
Because parenting coordination helps high conflict parents either resolve or teaches parents how to resolve their disputes. Many times, parents use their own spite and resentment as the force of creating or engaging in conflict.
When a parent may not be displaying good parenting skills but is not exhibiting behaviors that meet the legal terms of child abuse, neglect or abandonment, the other parent feels stuck because there is nothing a court can do to help the family.
A parenting coordinator can help parents settle co-parent disputes out of the court which ultimately reduces the excessive use of litigation, attorney’s fees and co-parent frustration. Because a qualified parenting coordinator is conducted by mental health professionals who can reduce co-parent or family conflict and reduce the harmful effects of conflict which jeopardizes the well-being of children.
Who can be my parenting coordinator?
There are two type of parenting coordinators: A Qualified Parenting Coordinator and non-qualified Parenting Coordinator who does meet the legal statutes criteria as a qualified parental coordinator but can practice parenting coordination.
A qualified parenting coordinator is a licensed mental health provider or legal professional with specialized training in this alternative dispute resolution process. Qualified professionals must have a minimum number of years of experience in the following areas of expertise: family systems theory, child development, child adjustment issues specific to divorce including parental alienation, domestic abuse, knowledge of the legal facets of divorce and high conflict dispute resolution techniques including mediation.
A non-qualified parenting coordinator can be any person who does not have specialized training in the areas of expertise as listed above but has simply taken the brief parenting coordination training, this person does not meet the legal statutes as a qualified parental coordinator.
When are Parenting Coordinators used?
Parents may meet with a parenting coordinator either together or separately in an effort to better manage parenting disputes. The parenting coordinator may or may not meet with the children. The parenting coordinator helps parents prioritize and equalize their disputes and helps facilitate resolution of those disputes in an effort to protect children from the harmful effects of exposure to chronic hostility and conflict. Parenting Coordination is often provided in face to face meetings individually or together, but may also be done via telephonic communication, SKYPE, Facetime etc.
How do I know if the Parenting Coordination Process is right for me?
Parenting Coordination is appropriate:
For parents who cannot communicate, understand the other parenting perspective, have a narcissistic personality or simply just high conflict.
When children are denied emotional and/or physical access to a parent or have severely limited contact with their parent.
When children are the messengers for their parents.
When extended family members create conflict for the parents or children.
When there is poor or no communication of access to information about a child’s health, education and welfare.
When the parents have difficulty or cannot agree as to substantive issues concerning the child.
When parents have been a significant time in court with little or no success litigating non-legal issues.