About Lindsay as a parent coordinator:
The State of South Dakota has specific guidelines set forth about the credentials required to be a parent coordinator. Lindsay holds a master’s degree from a fully accredited Council on Social Work Education university, and is a mental health provider who is credentialed at the highest level of licensure. Lindsay completed over 40 hours of training specific to working in high conflict custody cases. She has also completed 40 hours of training as a civil mediator. She is a member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and regularly completes trainings on current best practices in the field of parent coordination. Lindsay’s resume and credentials were reviewed by several Presiding Judges and she is an approved Parent Coordinator in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh circuit court systems. Lindsay maintains an office in both Pierre, SD and Rapid City, SD and serves clients in both locations.
What is Parent Coordination?
Parent Coordination is a form of dispute resolution that involves working with parents that struggle to make progress in agreeing on resolutions for their children. The process is non-confidential and is always centered around what is best for the child or children involved in the situation. As a parent coordinator, Lindsay will be court appointed to work on a case and is required to give at least quarterly updates to the presiding Judge about the progress of the case. The goal is to provide the court with demonstrable progress in reducing conflict between both parents and finding positive solutions that all parties can feel comfortable with. Lindsay relies on court documents provided to her to enforce the terms of visitation schedules, custody arrangements and the splitting of financial obligations for the child. Please note that Lindsay cannot make major changes to custody schedules, cannot make any changes to child support or mediate different monetary splits on bills. Lindsay’s role is to enforce what was already put in place by the Court and to create new agreements of things that we are addressing in our work together, all of which will be provided in the form of a signed agreement to the Judge to review and approve as part of the court record of the case. It is important to note that while both parties are paying for Lindsay’s services in this capacity, she does not work for one parent or the other, but rather, is a neutral agent of the court retained to bring about order, progress and mediate disputes as they arise. Lindsay knows that at times, her decisions to administer the case in a certain way may not be to one party’s liking, but her work will always try to align with keeping the best interests of the child or children in mind.
How do the parties communicate during the coordination process?
During the process of parent coordination, Lindsay has frequent contact with both parties. A time will be set up for an initial meeting where the parties can discuss what is currently working and what needs to be changed, and then will determine as a group, what can be worked on to move forward. After the initial meeting, communication can be through phone calls, text messages, Zoom meetings, emails and more in-person meetings. Lindsay understands that each situation is different, and she is open to working with both parties however they feel is the best and most effective way to communicate in an ongoing basis.
What will we be working on during the coordination process?
Through this process, Lindsay and the parties will work to address parental behaviors that lead to more conflict or a breakdown in communication, and we will replace those with more effective skills to facilitate the open communication needed to bring about positive change. Each parent has equal opportunity to share information, to give feedback on the process and to discuss what issues need to be worked on next. Each parent will also agree to carry their share of the responsibility to uphold items agreed upon during our work together.
Throughout this process, there will be times that each parent will be challenged to make changes in the way they think about or interact with their former partner for the overall good of their children. Parent coordination is a good way to facilitate healthy and effective co-parenting that can reduce stress and anxiety for the children who are also adjusting to life without the other parent in the home after a divorce or separation. This allows children the chance to grow in a healthy relationship free of being caught in the middle of parental conflict.
How long will we work together in the coordination process?
The process begins once Lindsay receives a court order appointing her as a coordinator. She will then send out an intake packet, a contract for services and her fee schedule. Lindsay is appointed to remain working on the case until she either requests that the Court allow her to officially resign from the case, or until both parties agree that her services are not required. At that time, Lindsay can send a letter to the Court informing the Judge of the parties’ mutual decision to discontinue coordination services. In some instances, Lindsay may remain assigned to the case until the parties’ youngest child turns 18 years old and services are no longer needed.
Who pays for the fees associated with the coordination process?
Despite coordination being a court ordered process, Lindsay is an independent service provider that requires both parties to pay an initial retainer that is then placed in a trust account. Generally, most arrangements are set up with both parties being 50% responsible for the cost of services, however; other fee splits are possible and will be laid out in the court order appointing Lindsay as a coordinator. Lindsay bills for any work completed on the case in 6-minute increments and once a month, will send out a detailed billing to both parties that describes the services provided on the case during that time.
Is the parent coordination process mandatory to participate in?
Yes. The purpose of a parent coordinator is to manage high-conflict custody cases so that neither party will have to continue to appear frequently in court. The goal of coordination is to de-escalate conflict, work collaboratively with both parties to engage them in healthier communication and dispute resolution patterns.
Please note that if one party repeatedly refuses participation in the coordination process, Lindsay does have an obligation to report this non-compliance to the Judge who presides over this case. Non-compliance based on refusing to pay the fees associated with coordination is also something that is mandatorily reported to the Judge.
What if I have additional questions that are not answered here?
If you wish to learn more information about the potential benefit of working towards a positive and helpful cooperative parenting relationship with your former spouse or partner, please feel free to contact Lindsay and she will be happy to discuss more about the process with you.