mom and son using tablet at home

Making the Case for Using Parenting Facilitators

Author: 
Leslie Barrows
 | Published: 
November 17, 2021
 | Category: 
Possession Schedule

Using Parenting Facilitators, Outside the Court System, When Co-Parenting Fails

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are on the way and so is the burden of co-parenting with someone who does not want to play nice; using parenting facilitators can help solve problems and keep everyone out of Court. A Texas-licensed parenting facilitator, often another family lawyer, plays an important role, as an appointed officer of the Court to help families resolve conflict. Using parenting facilitators can save time and money.  

Parenting facilitators are appointed by the court to help families resolve co-parenting issues using non-confidential methods, out of Court. Many parents find that parenting facilitators help move things along and resolve conflicts because they write reports that are sent to the Court. In later hearings and trials, the Court can give great weight to the parenting facilitator’s report, so there are consequences to working with a parenting facilitator as opposed to other dispute resolution options.  

Southlake family attorney Leslie Barrows is a strong proponent of using parenting facilitators, especially when there is a last-minute freak out over holiday planning and possession schedules. Sometimes those possession schedules need adjusting, and holidays bring conflicts to light. Let the parenting facilitator help everyone figure out what works now so after the holidays their report can be used in making a better agreement, or if necessary, enforcing or modifying the parenting plan in court.  

Contact Barrows Firm in Southlake with Specific Questions About Parenting Facilitators (817) 481-1583

Holiday Possession and Problems with Co-Parenting

Planning the holidays means knowing where the kids are going to be and what to expect for the holidays. Add the wrinkle of COVID-19 and vaccination concerns and problems can escalate quickly. People get mad and say, “Fine, what are you going to do, take me back to Court, I have some things to share with the Judge if you do!” Angry words can turn into Court filings and hearings over problems that could have been avoided if co-parents were able to get along and focus on the best interests of the children.  

Family plans may include or exclude certain family members and plans that take place right at home, or out of town, out of state, or even overseas. We all know to look at our parenting agreement and Court order first, but what if things have changed and the current parenting plans no longer work? It may be time to go back to court for a modification case, but when time is of the essence, it can be much more effective to negotiate out of court with a parenting facilitator and handle the modification after the holidays.  

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What Does a Parenting Facilitator Do?

A parenting facilitator (PF) is a person who is appointed by the Court to assist co-parents, resolving problems out of court, in a non-confidential setting, like mediation. The role of a parenting facilitator is much like that of a parenting coordinator (PC) with one significant difference. The PF can be called to testify in court at a later hearing or trial, while the PC cannot be called to testify.  

A parenting facilitator, like a parenting coordinator, helps to identify disputed issues, reduce misunderstandings, clarify priorities, and generally they help the parties resolve conflict when it comes to the parenting plan and best issues of the children. A visitation problem over the holidays and dispute as to where the kids are supposed to go, and who owes the other parenting time, can be a perfect problem to be solved by a parenting facilitator.  

The parenting facilitator is required to submit a written report to the court and the parties, as it is ordered by the Court. The Court may take into advisement the recommendations made by the parenting facilitator in determining how to enforce Court orders, make modifications of parenting plans, and determine outcomes when disputes involve the conservatorship of or possession of or access to the child, subject of the suit. Note that the Court may weigh the recommendations of the parenting facilitator with the evidence presented to the Court, but the Judge is not bound to follow the recommendations of the parenting facilitator. Using a parenting facilitator can be quicker and easier than going back to court with possession schedule issues.  

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When is a Court-Appointed Parenting Facilitator a Helpful?

Parenting facilitators are very useful in resolving co-parenting conflicts out of court because they can be more flexible in working with both parents without being constricted by Court and attorney schedules and time constraints. So, when it is the week before Thanksgiving and there are problems with co-parenting, it is much easier for the Court to appoint a parenting facilitator versus bringing the parties into court for a hearing or trial.  

When you have an ornery former spouse or their world is becoming full of problem players, the parenting facilitator has some teeth they can use to let the parties know that they can make recommendations to the Judge who will likely give those recommendations significant weight in making later decisions. This can be more helpful than traditional mediation because of the report writing element.  

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Benefits of Parenting Facilitators: Keeping Cases Out of the Court System

Nobody loves the idea of spending the holidays preparing for an enforcement or modification hearing. When problems arise, save time and resources for the family, and use a parenting facilitator to iron problems out of court, knowing if going to court is necessary, the parenting facilitator’s report can be useful to the judge.  

Hearings and trials become part of the official court record and many people want to keep their problems out of public records whenever possible. Especially if there are problems following parenting plans and one of the parties is up to no good, that information can be damaging in many aspects of one’s personal and professional life.  

The stress on children and other members of the family can be avoided by asking the Court to appoint a parenting facilitator to work on peacekeeping and problem solving out of court. Going to meet with the parenting facilitator can be easier and less of a production than going to battle in a hearing or trial.  

Why do People Change Course and Become Spiteful Co-Parents?

There are several patterns of co-parent relationship breakdowns. Things may be going well for a long time until suddenly the co-parenting communication is disrupted. When former spouses or never-married parents disagree with one another about a significant issue, it brings up emotions that initially led to the reason they are co-parents in the first place.  

When one of the co-parents gets a new significant other, marries, or has a significant life event the other may disapprove or have a problem with how the children might be affected. If there are no Court-ordered restrictions on new relationships or the conditions causing strife, there is little the disapproving parent can do. Bringing up all the hurt feelings and issues from the past breeds contempt, and holiday times seem ripe for problems.  

Using Barrows Firm Family Attorneys in Southlake to Keep the Family on Course (817) 481-1583