PARENTING COORDINATION/DECISION MAKER SERVICE
Dr. Austin offers the forensic service of Parenting Coordinator (PC) and Decision Maker. (DM). This requires being appointed by the District Court in Colorado as per Colorado Revised Statutes §§ 14-101-128.1 and 128.3. This service is for parents who may be having parenting disputes and conflict. This service is described in detail in the “Parenting Coordinator/Decision Maker Agreement” that is available on this website. The purpose of the PC is to educate parents about cooperative co-parenting; the importance of not exposing children to conflict; and facilitate resolution of differences on parenting issues for the best interests of the child. The order of appointment is usually for a two-year term.
The PC gathers information from parent interviews, reviewing reports and records, and interviewing the child and third parties who may have useful information. When issues arise the PC attempts to facilitate agreement on the issue, such a parenting time schedule disagreement, choice of an activity for the child, whether a child needs counseling, etc. This is the facilitative negotiation aspect to the PC process. The PC/DM service is a dispute resolution service, but it is not mediation. It is not counseling or treatment. It sometimes may resemble parent coaching. After the initial parent interviews the PC and parents usually will communicate by telephone and e-mail. The parents may agree that the PC should monitor their e-mail communications so as to contain hostility and promote constructive communication.
The Parent Coordinator may or may not also be designated as a decision maker. Dr. Austin prefers to be appointed to be both a PC and DM because the DM option enhances the efficacy of the facilitative negotiation process of the PC process so that voluntary agreement on disputed issues. When an issue cannot be resolved through negotiation then a party can request that the Decision Maker consider the issue and make a formal decision to resolve the conflict. A written decision is then filed with the Court.
Dr. Austin’s perspective and approach to PC work is based on his professional writings, workshops, and forensic model on Parental Gatekeeping (see the Gatekeeping page on the website) to enhance cooperative co-parenting. Parents are educated and coached on relevant research on the effects of divorce and conflict on children; gatekeeping; and co-parenting. Parents learn the gatekeeping terms and language and learn to distinguish between facilitative, restrictive, and protective gatekeeping. Dr. Austin’s articles can be downloaded from the website about parental gatekeeping.