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Parenting Coordinators

6.29.20 Posted By Taylor House Custody,Divorce

In Arizona family court cases, both parents may agree to the appointment of a parenting coordinator. Parenting coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process. A parenting coordinator (or PC for short) can assist the parents with implementing and complying with their legal decision-making and parenting time orders. They can also help parents timely resolve conflicts that may arise concerning legal decisions and parenting plans.

You can think of a PC as a private judge with the authority to decide disputed issues in your case. PCs can often resolve disputes much more quickly than waiting for the court to set a hearing. PCs are typically attorneys, but can also be social workers or other mental health professionals (such as a psychiatrist or psychologist).

PCs charge hourly for their services, and their fees range from $100/hour to over $400/hour. The fees are typically divided equally between the parents, but can be allocated differently if both parents agree. We generally recommend that each parent pay at least a portion of the fee so that everyone has “skin in the game.” This can help prevent one parent from using the PC’s services excessively.

Parents can appoint a PC for a specified term—typically 12 months. The PC can be appointed for a longer period if both parents agree. In the past, a judge could appoint a PC over the objection of one parent. Currently, a PC can only be appointed if both parents agree. In theory, a PC can be re-appointed after the initial term ends, but again, both parents must agree. In reality, one or both parents may not agree with all the decisions made by their PC during his/her initial term and won’t agree to reappointment.

Whether to use a parenting coordinator is an important decision that could significantly affect your divorce or custody case. You should discuss the use of a PC with your Chandler family law attorney before agreeing to his/her appointment. There are pros and cons to using a PC, some of which are discussed below.


  • You don’t have to wait to go to court to resolve disputes. Disagreements can be resolved quickly because you are paying someone hourly to pay attention to your case. Instead of waiting three months for the court to set a hearing, you can contact the PC and usually get a decision within a few weeks. This is especially important in a post-COVID environment, where courts are backlogged and it can be difficult to get a timely decision from a judge.

  • The PC has broad authority to decide a wide range of issues. Although the PC cannot recommend a change in decision-making or a substantial change in parenting time, they can resolve other significant disagreements such as the following:

    • Minor adjustments to parenting time orders

    • Disagreements about pick-up and drop-off locations

    • Holiday scheduling

    • Discipline issues

    • Health or educational issues, such as choice of school

    • Personal care issues (child’s haircut or piercings, for example)

    • Disagreements about school and extracurricular activities

    • Managing problematic behaviors

  • Like a judge, the PC can review documentation and interview anyone that might have information necessary to resolve a dispute (teachers, doctors, etc.). The PC will generally devote more time and attention to your case than a family court judge (whose calendars are often overloaded with hearings).

  • Resolving your disputes with a PC could potentially be cheaper than hiring an attorney and going through the process of a court hearing.


  • A parenting coordinator’s decision is binding on the parties. If the PC makes a decision you don’t like, you may be stuck with it. A parent can only object to the decision if the PC acts outside of the scope of their authority. Because their authority is very broad to begin with, you won’t be able to object to the decision in most cases. On the other hand, this could be considered a “pro” if the PC makes a decision you do agree with.

  • Because the PC process is faster and cheaper than going to court, a difficult co-parent may abuse the process and ask the PC to intervene on every little issue. Although the PC has the ability to reallocate fees if one parent is abusing the process, reallocation is rare unless one parent is being totally unreasonable. You could end up going back to the PC’s office every few weeks when the other parent has an issue, and still end up paying half of the cost.

  • Parenting coordinators are human and they are not infallible. If the PC doesn’t like you or they get the wrong first impression, you may end up with 12 months of bad decisions that can’t be overturned.

  • Unlike mediation in Chandler, parenting coordination is not a confidential process. Communications between either parent and the PC are not confidential and may be used in court.

If you are considering a parenting coordinator in your case, you should speak with an attorney to discuss the pros and cons for your particular situation before making a decision. In the right case, a parenting coordinator can help ease tensions and resolve conflict. Contact our office to discuss your options.