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Parenting Plan Coordination Tailored to Your Family’s Needs

Parenting Plan Coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a mental health and/or legal professional with mediation training and experience, appointed by the parents, assists them in implementing their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes in a timely manner. The Parenting Plan Coordinator (“PPC”) takes the time to get to know your family and makes decisions within the scope of the appointment stipulation to resolve conflicts. A wide range of issues can lead to disputes in need of resolution, including holiday schedule, transportation, school choice, special needs, psychotherapy, medication, religion, summer camp choice, extracurricular activities and communication.

If you are unable to reach an agreement, have difficulty with day to day or other decisions about your child and do not wish to litigate custody issues, the PPC may be an effective way for your family to resolve conflicts by giving the power to this neutral to make final decisions in your custody matters.

Mara Berke’s general approach as a PPC is to help parents negotiate parenting issues in separate mediation or, if possible, joint mediation. Mara also frequently addresses matters through email and telephone communication. She tries to assure a respectful flow and sharing of information. If parents cannot make a decision together about a particular issue, then she will make decisions or recommendations according to the scope of the PPC Stipulation. The goal is to help parents reach resolution as quickly as possible so that the children’s needs are met and the family’s lives are less affected by conflict.

The following identifies the stages of the California Parenting Plan Coordination process:

  1. Negotiation of the PPC Stipulation: Before the work can begin, the PPC needs a clear stipulation to define the levels of decisions and how the PPC will work with you. If you have attorneys, they can be helpful in negotiating the PPC stipulation. The PPC may assist in clarifying the scope of the PPC stipulation. In high conflict cases, it is suggested that the decision-making role be given the most authority to reduce conflict so that a decision is made.
  2. Defining the Issues: After the stipulation is negotiated, the PPC usually meets with each parent separately, meets with the children, only if needed, and reviews any court recommendations, custody evaluations or assessments of the children. The PPC may want to talk with any therapists or special service providers involved and other significant people as needed. This information provides some background pertaining to your family and any issues that may need resolution.
  3. Ongoing Work: The PPC will have joint or separate meetings with the parents to discuss and negotiate issues. For smaller and/or more urgent issues, the PPC will use phone discussions and email. The PPC typically asks parents to copy the PPC on their written communication so the PPC can track issues efficiently, should the PPC need to become involved or assist in parent communication styles. As indicated above, the PPC will endeavor to make collaborative agreements, but will make decisions when there is impasse according to the scope of the PPC stipulation. Some decisions will be oral if time is of the essence, later to be memorialized in writing, and most decisions will be written.

See PPC Stipulation.

If you are struggling to make joint parenting decisions and find yourselves in a deadlock, contact Mara Berke today to learn how she can help you in resolving parenting decisions.