If the relationship between separated or divorced parents is so bad that they’re unable to co-parent their children, a parent (or parenting) coordinator (PC) may be necessary. A PC may be ordered by a court or parents may decide on their own that they need one.

The role of a PC will vary somewhat based on the issues a family is facing. In general, however, their role is to help co-parents negotiate their differences, resolve their disputes and learn some conflict management skills so that they can both adhere to the agreed-upon parenting plan and better deal with situations that may arise that aren’t covered in the plan.

Each state determines the qualifications of PCs. Here in Ohio, they must either have a law degree, graduate degree or “education and experience satisfactory to the court or division.” They also require at least two years of experience in counseling, family law or some other profession involving children. They also need a specific number of hours of training in mediation, dispute resolution and parenting coordination.

Whether a court has ordered you to use a PC, your co-parent has requested it or you’re the one considering it, it’s wise to think of it as an opportunity to learn some valuable skills from someone with education and experience that can benefit you. A PC can also help both parents see things from an outside perspective.

A PC can be a huge benefit to you — and more importantly, to your children. However, both parents have to be willing to listen to them and follow their guidance. They aren’t there to make the rules but to help you both live within the rules you’ve already set. Your family law attorney can provide more information and guidance on the role of a PC and how to make your relationship with your PC as productive and positive as possible.