ISDR adopts a child-centred approach in its work with families. Both Jon Graham and Lorri Yasenik work as Parenting Coordinators in their respective jurisdictions of Australia and Alberta Canada.
In 2020 ISDR began to offer Parenting Coordination for families affected by enduring High Conflict. Unlike Family Dispute Resolution, Parenting Coordination is an "On-the-record" process whereby all communications, meeting notes and agreements are admissible; that is non-confidential.
In addition, when Jon works with parents in Parenting Coordination, an initial agreement or contract is signed that outlines how the Parenting Coordinator will work, and the duration of the contract (up to 2 years).
Generally Jon works with parents in one to two hour meetings on a needs basis. While Jon is not on-call to the parents, he is generally available to deal with issues quickly and before they become too overwhelming. Each meeting is supported by outcome minutes drafted by Jon.
The PC process can be very useful to assist high conflict parents to maintain their existing orders/agreements. The Parenting Coordinator can also intervene in parental negotiations about new areas of concerns.
The role of the Parenting Coordinator is generally to be more directive with respect to the discussion between parents than when acting in the role of the traditional mediator. As the Parenting Coordinator Jon may give advice with respect to outcome, but he has no determinative function.
The work of the International Centre for Children and Family Law (ICCFL) is the training ground for the work of Jon Graham and Lorri Yasenik.
Parenting Coordination Agreement to Participate
HOW CHILD -CENTRED PARENTING COORDINATION WORKS
Child-Centred PC involves the Parenting Coordinator meeting individually with the children at various points in the PC process.
The child meetings are Private But Not Secret, meaning that only the information that the child agrees can be brought back to parents will be brought back. Unlike the process in Family Dispute Resolution the child understands that the information they agree to be brought out of their session is part of the "on-the-record" file and a copy will be given to each parent.
Each meeting uses play based activities that allow the children to speak through the activity.
The process is designed to be fun and engaging for the child.
Generally each parent brings the child to a meeting with the practitioner.
Where there are more than one child in a family, the time begins with everyone in the room, and then moves to individual meetings with each child.
Meetings go for no longer than one hour per child (and in the case of multiple children most often 45 minutes per child)
Parent feedback occurs in a separate session and is compiled around nine areas identified as interests and concerns for children living in two houses.
Does Not interpret the meaning of what a child said, drew or created
Does Not ask the child to become a decision maker between their parents
Does Not seek answers to adult questions
Is not an evidence gathering process. It simply captures what a child said at a particular time on a particular day.
HOW TO BROACH THE TOPIC WITH YOUR CHILDREN
We will provide you with a tip sheet on how to explain the Meeting with your child.
Some tips include:
Explain that mum and dad have been seeing a mediator to help make some decisions about the future now that we all live in two houses.
You can then explain that Mum and Dad and the mediators want to make sure that everyone understands what their life is like at the moment.
Explain that the children are invited to speak to a helper who will just check in with each child to see how they are going at the moment. The helper has games and activities to make the time as fun as possible,
You can explain that when they talk with the helper it is a private but not secret time. They can say if there are things that they would like to be kept private. They are free to say as much or as little as they want.