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What’s the difference between a parenting coordinator and a mediator?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2021 | Collaborative Divorce

Mediation has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many divorcing couples and co-parents have pursued this option as a way of having a say in their divorce or child custody cases instead of a judge deciding for them. Former couples are also generally less apt to pursue modifications in the future when they have a hand in choosing their fate instead of the court. 

When parents do find themselves at odds over a parenting plan, judges may order them to meet with a parenting coordinator to resolve the differences that keep landing them back in court. You may find it helpful to understand more about the differences between the role a parenting coordinator plays and that of a mediator.  

How mediators and parenting coordinators are similar

Both parenting coordinators and mediators are similar in that they are both independent third-parties. They have an explicit goal to try and help you and your ex reach an agreement by which you can each comfortably abide.  

These professionals have a similar goal to family law judges. It’s their priority to ensure that any child custody or support decisions you make champion the best interests of the children at all times. They aren’t looking to make one parent the “winner” and the other parent a “loser.” 

How mediation unfolds differently from parenting coordination

Mediators generally become involved in divorce or child custody cases early on when couples or parents are only beginning to address their desired outcomes. A mediator helps them work towards a happy-medium on those issues. The former couple has no obligation to abide by any of the agreements they reach until they present them to a judge who signs off on them, making them legally-binding. 

Judges will generally recommend that a parenting coordinator steps in if a former couple has persistent conflict over the same issues. Parenting coordinators can’t help former couples address any matters aside from those contained in court orders. Their sole goal is to help co-parents identify ways to successfully tackle any new disputes that arise independently without having to seek out the court’s intervention. 

It’s not uncommon for former Tennessee couples to have difficulty discussing parenting matters when they’re still trying to come to terms with their split. A collaborative law attorney can help you navigate these challenging discussions so that it has minimal impact on your child’s future.