Cook County Family Law: Parent Coordinator

Posted by Erin Birt | Nov 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

Families in a Cook County Divorce or Cook County Paternity case may be assigned a parent coordinator.  While a parent coordinator is often utilized in Cook County, it is not as frequently utilized in DuPage County Divorce or Paternity cases. This post will focus on Cook County Family Law: Parent Coordinator.

Below is the Cook County Local Court Rules that address the appointment, qualifications, confidentiality, and duties of a parent coordinator.

Cook County Family Law: Parent Coordinator

“Parenting Coordinator
(a) Appointment – The Court may appoint a parenting coordinator when it finds the following:

1. The parties failed to adequately cooperate and communicate with regard to issues involving their children, or have been unable to implement a parenting plan or parenting schedule;
2. Mediation has not been successful or has been determined by the judge to be inappropriate; or
3. The appointment of a parenting coordinator is in the best interests of the child or children involved in the proceedings.

Notwithstanding the above, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator by agreement of the parties.

(b) Qualification – The parenting coordinator shall possess the minimum qualifications of a mediator with the Marriage and Family Counseling Services as set forth in Rule 13.4 of the Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

(c) Confidentiality – Communications with the parenting coordinator shall not be confidential, except that upon the agreement of both parties and the parenting coordinator, the court may deem all or any specific part of the communications with the parenting coordinator to be confidential, if such designation appears to be in the best interests of the children.

(d) Duties

(i) The parenting coordinator shall educate, mediate, monitor court orders and make recommendations to the court as necessary.  In addition, the parenting coordinator may recommend approaches that will reduce conflict between parents and reduce unnecessary stress for the children.

(ii) The parenting coordinator may monitor parental behaviors and mediate disputes concerning parenting issues and report any allegations of noncompliance to the court, if necessary.

(iii) The parenting coordinator shall recommend outside resources as needed, such as random drug screens, parenting classes and psychotherapy.

(iv) The parenting coordinator may recommend detailed guidelines or rules for communication between parents.

(v) The parenting coordinator shall maintain communication among all parties by serving, if necessary, as a conduit for information.

(vi) The parenting coordinator may meet with the parties, the children, and significant others jointly or separately.  The parenting coordinator shall determine if the appointments shall be joint or separate.

(vii) Each parent should direct any disagreements or concerns regarding the children to the parenting coordinator.

(viii) The parenting coordinator shall work with both parents to attempt to resolve the conflict and, if necessary, shall recommend an appropriate resolution to the parents.

(ix) The parenting coordinator shall not have any decision-making authority which is the sole province of the court.

(x) The parenting coordinator shall not serve as a custody evaluator in any proceeding involving one or more parties for whom the parenting coordinator has provided parenting coordination services.

(xi) The parenting coordinator shall not be permitted to give a recommendation or opinion concerning the ultimate issue of fact, law, or mixed issue of fact and law as to child custody, primary physical residence, or visitation.

(xii) No parenting coordinator shall be held liable for civil damages for any act or omission in the scope of the parenting coordinator's employment or function, unless such person acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose, or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of the rights, safety or property of another.”

The complete Rules of the Circuit Court of Cook County for Domestic Relations Proceedings can be found here.

While a parent coordinator is similar to a court appointed guardian ad litem, one of the benefits of  involving a parent coordinator in a case is that the relationship with the parties can continue beyond the current litigation.  The appointment of a guardian ad litem is often terminated at the conclusion of the pending litigation.  Both offer valuable services and in each case it must be determined by the parties, attorneys, and/or court which type of service is most beneficial for that particular family and that family's particular circumstances.

Parent coordinators can also be used as a team member and as a resource in collaborative divorce cases.  Again, the ongoing relationship between the parents and the parent coordinator can provide consistency and tools to promote stability for families. Contact us today if you have or need a Cook County Family Law: Parent Coordinator established in your case.

Schedule a Consultation with Attorney Erin Birt

About the Author

Erin Birt

Since 2003, Erin N. Birt, J.D., CADC has focused her practice on parenting time, divorce, mediation, and substance abuse issues. Ms. Birt's unique background in both family law and addictions counseling help her clients successfully navigate the complex issues of coparenting and divorce. Ms. Birt also devotes her time to presenting at continuing education seminars for attorneys, mediators, and counselors.


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