The court must specify the duties of the PF, which may include some or all of these areas:
(1) identifying disputed parenting issues;
(2) reducing misunderstandings;
(3) clarifying priorities & goal setting
(4) exploring possibilities for problem “solving,” rather than “blame” for problems;
(5) developing methods of collaboration in parenting;
(6) understanding parenting plans and reaching agreements about parenting issues to be included in a parenting plan;
(7) complying with the court's orders regarding conservatorship or possession of and access to the child;
(8) implementing parenting plans for the benefit of the child or children;
(9) obtaining training regarding problem solving, conflict management, and parenting skills; and
(10) settling disputes regarding parenting issues, and reaching a proposed joint resolution or statement of intent regarding those disputes.
In a nod to pragmatism over formality, meetings between the Parenting Facilitator and the parties may be informal, and are not required to follow any specific procedures not otherwise required by law.
Importantly, the appointment of a Parenting Facilitator does not divest the court of its exclusive jurisdiction to determine issues of conservatorship, support, and possession of and access to the child; nor, the authority of the court to exercise management and control of the suit. And, the PF may not modify any order, judgment, or decree. The Parenting Facilitator must comply with the Ethical Guidelines for Mediators as adopted by the Supreme Court of Texas.
The Qualifications of the Parenting Facilitator
Your court will determine the required qualifications of the PF, provided that s/he must have experience working in a field relating to families, have practical experience with high-conflict cases or litigation between parents, and; hold at least either:
- a bachelor's degree in counseling, education, family studies, psychology, or social work; or a graduate degree in a mental health profession, with an emphasis in family and children's issues;
- be licensed in good standing as an attorney in this state.
Additionally, s/he must complete at least:
(1) eight hours of family violence dynamics training provided by a family violence service provider;
(2) 40 classroom hours of training in dispute resolution techniques (such as mediation) in a course conducted by an alternative dispute resolution system or other dispute resolution organization approved by the court; and
(3) 24 classroom hours of training in the fields of family dynamics, child development, family law and the law governing parenting coordination, and parenting coordination styles and procedures.
In appropriate circumstances, a court may, with the agreement of the parties, appoint a person as parenting coordinator who does not meet all of those requirements, if the court finds that the person has sufficient legal or other professional training or experience in dispute resolution processes to serve in the capacity of Parenting Facilitator.
Successful Co-Parenting can be difficult. It takes work, and a willingness to explore different ways of working with your ex. But, your child will benefit from having successful co-parents. That is why we make the efforts, even when they are initially awkward or uncomfortable. A good Parenting Facilitator can guide you through that process.