Parenting coordinators

Usually, parenting agreements and parenting orders don't list every single detail about how you'll manage your parenting responsibilities (for example, they won't show detailed schedules for parenting time or contact with a child). This means that you and your spouse might end up disagreeing about how parts of the agreement or order should work.

If you and your spouse can't agree about certain points, a parenting coordinator might be able to help you. A parenting coordinator is a person who's trained to help you and your spouse sort out your parenting issues.

Do you need a court order to get a parenting coordinator?

There are usually two ways to get a parenting coordinator to help you:

  • you and the other parent or guardian can agree to appoint (get) a parenting coordinator as part of your agreement, or
  • a court can order that a parenting coordinator be appointed.

A parenting coordinator can be appointed to you for up to two years.

The agreement or order can appoint them for less time than this, but two years is always the longest they can be appointed to you.

You or the other parent or guardian can contact the parenting coordinator any time you:

  • disagree about the agreement or order, or
  • have a question about it.

The parenting coordinator will talk to both of you and try to come up with a solution.

How can parenting coordinators help?

Parenting coordinators don't help you come up with a parenting agreement or order.

But they can:

  • help you sort out disagreements about how to do what it says in your agreement or order;
  • help you sort out disagreements about parental responsibilities, such as decisions about:
    • education (for example, which school your children go to)
    • medical and dental care
    • pickup and drop-off times and places for visits with the children
    • travel and holidays with the children
    • clothing and style choices (for example, if one of your children wants a body piercing)
    • diet (for example, if one of your children wants to become a vegetarian)
    • discipline
    • extracurricular activities (things your children do when they're not in school);
  • help you make guidelines about how to talk to each other and do what your agreement says you'll do;
  • help you find and create strategies for sorting things out when you disagree; and
  • give you information to help you improve your communication and parenting skills.

How do you find a parenting coordinator?

The BC Parenting Coordination website has a list of professional parenting coordinators. They all have special training and work experience.

Do you have to pay for a parenting coordinator?

There's no government funding for parenting coordinators. You and the other parent or guardian will have to pay them yourselves. You'll also have to work out how you're sharing the cost of this. The parenting coordinator can't do that part for you.

What does the parenting coordinator do?

If you can't sort things out through discussion or mediation, the parenting coordinator makes a decision called a determination.

The determination:

  • must be written down, and
  • is binding (that is, you and the other parent or guardian have to do what it says).

You or the other parent or guardian file the determination with the court. It's then enforced like a court order.

The parenting coordinator:

  • doesn't replace a judge,

  • can't change your agreement or order, and

  • can only make determinations that fit within your agreement or order.

If you have another issue, you can ask the parenting coordinator to help again.

What happens if you don't agree with what the parenting coordinator suggests?

If you're unhappy with the parenting coordinator's determination, you can apply to court to have it changed or set aside. But the court will only do this if:

  • the parenting coordinator's determination is outside their authority (that is, it doesn't fit with your agreement), or
  • the parenting coordinator made a mistake about the law or about how the facts and the law work together.