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Understanding the role of a parenting coordinator

Many Baton Rouge residents who have endured the stress and emotion of a divorce involving minor children have discovered that disputes about the child's welfare did not stop with the entry of the judgement of divorce. In order to assist parents in resolving disputes concerning their child's welfare, the Louisiana legislature has created the office of parenting coordinator.

A parenting coordinator may be appointed by a court "for good cause shown" if the court has previously entered an order establishing child custody. The initial appointment shall expire after one year. A parenting coordinator must possess a M.S. or Ph. D. in a mental health field, such as psychology, social work or marriage and family counseling. The coordinator must also have at least three years of post-degree professional experience. The parties must share the expenses of the coordinator, and no coordinator will be appointed if one of the parties is unable to pay a fair share of expenses.

As the title implies, a parenting coordinator is responsible for assisting the parents in resolving disputes concerning the child's welfare. Such disputes include minor changes or clarifications in the custody plan and management of the child's medical and dental care. The coordinator is also charged with assisting the parents in settling disputes involving mental health issues, psychotherapy and general child-rearing issues. Coordinators are expressly prohibited from facilitating an agreement between the parties to alter legal custody or affect child support.

The general idea behind the parenting coordinator is to provide the divorced parents with a neutral party who can suggest various compromises to resolve what might otherwise become a major dispute requiring the court's intervention.

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