What are parent coordinators and parent facilitators in Texas?

Parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators have similar roles in Texas family courts, but there are some important differences, as well.

Parents who are splitting up often have conflicts about child custody and visitation matters. The court has several different professionals whose roles are to assist parents to reduce conflicts and coparent more effectively. Two of those roles are parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators. Keeping track of the differences between the roles of parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the family court system.

Parenting coordination and parenting facilitation

Parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators have some similar characteristics, but there are some important differences. A parenting coordinator is a neutral third party that the court appoints to help parents who have divorced work through conflicts and implement their parenting plans. The court appoints a parenting coordinator after holding a hearing to determine whether there is a need for a parenting coordinator. Parenting coordinators work with high-conflict families to help parents make joint decisions about areas such as education, health care issues, extracurricular activities and similar matters. The work that the parenting coordinator does with families is confidential, meaning that the parenting coordinator cannot testify about what happens during the sessions with families.

A parenting facilitator also helps parents resolve conflicts. However, the work that the parenting facilitator does is not confidential. Parenting facilitators can testify about their work with families. Parenting facilitators often take more of a supervisory role, making sure that parents comply with the parenting plan and act in the best interests of their children.

Both parenting coordinators and parenting facilitators help parents:

  • Identify problem areas
  • Clarify priorities
  • Reduce the number of misunderstandings
  • Agree on dispute resolution methods
  • Develop strategies to help collaborative parenting
  • Understand and implement the possession and access provisions of parenting plans

Working with a parent coordinator

It may seem intimidating to work with a parenting coordinator. The following tips may help make the process go more smoothly:

  • Ask to have input about who serves as you parenting coordinator.
  • Ask other parents who have worked with parenting coordinators for recommendations.
  • Ask for the court-recommended candidate's credentials.
  • When you meet with the parenting coordinator, keep the focus on what you want for your children, not your feelings about your child's other parent.
  • Be honest with the parenting coordinator; trying to undermine your child's other parent or manipulate the situation will make you look bad.

Speak with an attorney

Child custody matters are often contentious. If you are having issues regarding child custody you would do well to have the help of a seasoned child custody lawyer to help you. An experienced lawyer can help advocate for your interests and help you preserve your relationship with your child. If you have questions about child custody in Texas, speak with a Texas child custody attorney who can offer you guidance based on your specific circumstances.

Keywords: child custody; possession and access; visitation