Coparent Hell: Parenting Consultants Keep the Fire Raging

Parenting Consultants, also called Parent Coordinators, can be a helpful tool for parents who usually get along well, but occasionally need guidance when they cannot agree on a decision about their child and do not want to go to court for an answer.  In the case of an extremely hostile co parenting situation, signing on with a parenting consultant is like pouring fuel on a fire.  Even that analogy may be too mild.  In some cases, a parenting consultant is more like connecting the fire to a gas tank with an unlimited capacity.

Who am I to tell you about this?  I am someone who experienced an eight year, six figure, divorce and custody battle.  In the end, I had to motion the court for sole physical and legal custody.  At that time, the only way to free yourself from a parenting consultant was to get sole custody.  Now they do have ways to end a contract with a parenting consultant, but it involves getting your ex to agree to it.  It is always worth a shot, but if the two of you were able to agree, you would have never had the need for a parenting consultant!  It is my opinion that if your ex is making your life miserable, the last thing you want to do is add a parenting consultant to the mix.

I am an expert on dealing with parenting consultants.  I understand the process from the side of being a parent and from the side of a parenting consultant.  After my experience, I wanted to find some way to help people escape the madness.  What I thought I would do was to become a licensed psychologist and hope to meet with people prior to them reaching the point of needing a parenting consultant.  I enrolled in weekend college and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology.  Prior to earning a master’s degree in order to become a licensed therapist, I found the field of mediation and fell in love with the process. I decided that mediation and coaching was for me.  so far, I have postponed the idea of  getting a master’s degree.  Because of the training I have had, I am also qualified to work as a parenting consultant or parenting time expediter, in addition to working as a mediator.  I have been through the training and know the ins and outs of parenting consulting well.  I do choose to work as a parenting consultant for some cases, but when it comes to high conflict cases, my role is better served working as a coach, on the side of one of the parents.  In this role, I can assist you with how to understand what is happening and how to cope with a hostile ex spouse or a meddling parenting consultant.

What are parenting consultants supposed to do?  They are supposed to keep you out of court by making binding decisions when the parents cannot agree.  They can make decisions about anything they want, other than custody.  If you give them permission to decide custody, they will do that.  They can even change custody by increasing parenting time without you realizing that custody has changed by way of a back door.  Be very careful about what they are deciding and what it means overall.

Why do lawyers tell you that you want a parenting consultant?  Lawyers get very frustrated with hysterical clients.  Those clients who are in constant battle mode with their ex, do not know who else to call and so they call their lawyer to report every bad behavior their ex has engaged in.  For an attorney, a parenting consultant gives you someone else to call so that they don’t have to listen to you anymore.  It’s not that they don’t care, but their job is to help you legally, in court or within the law.  There is nothing they can do to help you with a misbehaving ex.  Unless you want to motion the court to change parenting time, custody or financial matters, all they can do is bill you for the time to listen and respond to you.  Many of them think a parenting consultant is a good remedy to stop the parent conflict.  In some cases it can.  In most cases it won’t.

Parenting Consultants keep the fire raging by adding the stress of paying a lot of money to them and any collateral professionals they need to call in.  They may decide that you have to attend therapy or anger management, adding the cost of that to an already costly situation.  If they need to talk to your attorney, guess what, you will be paying the parenting consultant and your attorney for that time they are on your case.  Some of the top parenting consultants charge $5,000 retainers and $325 per hour.  Who can afford that?  Who would want to pay it even if they could?  That is crazy!

Parenting Consultants think that they can fix you and they spend a great deal of time and your money trying to do so.  They do not understand the emotional issues that you are experiencing because of the family court system.  They do not understand that some relationships are unhealthy and just need to end so the parties can live in peace.  The family court system believes that it is best for children to have two parents.  That is the standard that they work under.  The powers that be think that if they tell you and the other person to get along and work together to make your children’s life better, you will be able to do that.  They even try to court order that by way of binding parenting consultant decisions.  If that were possible, why not court order people to love each other?  Why not court order people to stay married?  It cannot be done.  It may surprise you to know that even if you do have a parenting consultant and pay thousands of dollars to make your ex change, there is very little a parenting consultant can do when their decisions are not followed.

Many people sign on with parenting consultants with high hopes.  They really think that this will improve the relationship between the parents.  Unfortunately, parenting consultants do end up taking sides when they have made a decision in favor of one of the parents.  You may be punished with court ordered anger management or therapy because of information they receive.  They may even talk to extended family or decide the role of a parent’s new significant other in  a way that you never dreamed would happen.  Parenting consultants have a massive amount of power over you and your children.  This is not helpful in helping you move on after divorce.  They do not always see when they are being used as a weapon against you.  All of the above are reasons why they are not helpful.  Let me add another reason that I think they will never improve the co parent relationship. 

When you are there to talk about intimate details of your life and history with your ex and it gets used against you, you will not open up again.  Once you feel that betrayal of your words or feelings used in ways you did not see coming, you will avoid communication with your ex as much as possible and there will be a wedge between the two of you and probably also between you and the parenting consultant.  You will have your guard up and put up walls that will be very difficult to take down.  When people truly want to improve their relationship, they are going to have to talk to each other.  Because you have no privilege of confidentiality with a PC, you will learn that you do not want to talk openly for fear of what that information will be used for.  The relationship, therefor, never improves and you will wind up in need of a parenting consultant until your children are 18.

I have made it my goal to help parents move out of the family court system and move into the life that they dream of.  Please call me to get some tips on
how to improve your situation or to review your court documents and offer my opinion on whether or not a parenting consultant would be helpful to you.  If you need help understanding the family court process or the parenting consultant process, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Image: Naypong /

6 thoughts on “Coparent Hell: Parenting Consultants Keep the Fire Raging

    1. Hi Nate,

      I have actually written a book on the subject:

      I also coach people all over the country, so feel free to give me a call. I can look at your situation and not talk in generalities. 763-566-2282 or 1-800-516-2446.



  1. Gayle Donahue

    Threes a lot going on, but my parenting consultant is not neutral. She’s on a power trip. Only met my ex and I for 30 min. Has never met or talked to our children or family members. Is very rude to me and I feel attacked constantly. I want her fired and of course my ex won’t agree. Is it hard to do? I have an attorney.


    1. Hi Gayle,

      Much of it depends on the wording of your court order. It is common for the orders to say something like: “The parties agree to use a parenting consultant for all parenting disputes”. There is much to know about PCs, but it is defintely a nightmare. Maybe this will be of interest?

      Also, please feel free to contact either Life’s Doors Mediation or High Conflict Central.


    2. Oh, and I should have mentioned, parenting consultants, while referred to as neutrals, really are not neutral. They are impartial. It won’t seem that way because their goal is to get you to coparent.


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