Qualifications for Massachusetts parenting coordinators are included in the Court’s Standing Order 1-17 in Section Three. In summary, PCs must:
- A licensed attorney in MA with at least four years of experience;
- A Massachusetts licensed psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, licensed independent clinical social worker with no less than two years of experience in those roles;
- A Massachusetts licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), or licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), with at least four years of experience.
- Maintain at least $100,000.00 in liability insurance.
A PC must fulfill the following training requirements, as approved by the Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court:
- At least 30 hours of training in a mediation training program; and
- At least 6 hours of training in intimate partner abuse and family violence dynamics to be established by the Probate and Family Court in conjunction with the Trial Court; and
- At least 35 hours of accredited specialty training in topics related to parenting coordination, including, but not limited to, any mandatory training established by the Administrative Office of the Probate and Family Court, the role of the parenting coordinator in Massachusetts, the role of a parenting coordinator generally, communication, conflict management and dispute resolution skills, developmental stages of children, dynamics of high-conflict families, parenting skills, problem-solving techniques, and parenting in separate households.
- To maintain certification , a PC must complete at least six additional hours of continuing education in topics as referenced above and approved by the court.
Beyond the required training, parents may want to consider additional factors when selecting a parenting coordinator, including:
- The communication style of the PC.
- Does the PC use technology to assist with the process?
- Does the parenting coordinator provide clients with an online client portal?
- Does the PC have a substantial amount of experience with family law issues, including custody and parenting, in Massachusetts? Note: You want to beware of non-lawyers that label themselves “experts” in divorce and family law. For liability and insurance-related reasons, even attorneys specializing in divorce and family law rarely declare themselves as such.
- Does the parenting coordinator have a significant amount of mediation experience, including mediating parenting plans and other child-related experience?
- What level of mediation certification – beyond the basic training requirements for mediators – does the parenting coordinator possess?
- If you are considering a non-attorney PC, does the PC have experience in a courtroom with providing testimony? (Yes, a PC may be called as a witness in court.)
- If the parenting coordinator located in a convenient geographic location, or does the PC provide alternatives to in-person meetings for parents living further away for the PC’s office?
- What are the parenting coordinator’s rates and billing policies?
- Does the PC provide additional resources for parents, whether information on his or her website, or other helpful material to assist parents?
If you have questions about working with a parenting coordinator in Massachusetts, then please contact us through our contact form, or call us at (508) 359-4043.