Decision Making Authority of a Parent Coordinator

Decision Making Authority of a Parent Coordinator

A parent coordinator is a person appointed by the Court in a high conflict divorce to reduce the effects of conflict on the parties’ child. Parent Coordinators have been used in Separation Agreements and have been appointed by the Court for approximately twenty years, without rules regulating their conduct and appointment. Rule 9-205.2 of the Maryland Rules, entitled "Parenting Coordination", was adopted on June 7, 2011, to define the roles and duties of a Parent Coordinator. Under this rule, they can decide post-judgment disputes by making "minor, temporary modifications to child access provisions ordered by the court" if the order authorizes such decision making and the parties have agreed that the Parenting Coordinator may do so. Examples include "one-time or minor changes in the time or place for child transfer and one-time or minor deviations from access schedules to accommodate special events or circumstances." This means that the decision making authority of a parent coordinator is quite limited, and cannot substitute for the role of a judge. This complies with the rule set forth in Van Schaik v. Van Schaik, a 2011 decision by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, in which the Court found a Best Interest Attorney could not be designated as a "Tie-Breaker" if the parties could not reach a decision, and reversed the lower court decision appointing a BIA as the Tie-Breaker. The Court went on to cite Rule 9-205.2 and approved the process by which a Parent Coordinator may decide post-judgment disputes by making minor, temporary modifications to child access provisions ordered by the court if this authority is granted by court order and the parties have agreed to this.