The Parenting coordination process can be done in many ways, depending on your professional background, client goals, practice preferences and proximity to your clients. Recently, at the AFCC Pre Conference on Parenting Coordination, there were a number of PCs who stated they never meet with clients personally and only by phone or email.

Following a face to face intake wherever possible, my preference is to have a face to face first meeting with parents together so that we can establish the PC process, goals, boundaries, billing etc. together.  I have found that many, if not most, parents are resistant to this first meeting and before we can get it scheduled, often the first crisis issue has emerged.

In addition, I am being retained by more and more “out of town clients” who technically live in the GTA, but with Toronto traffic, it is 1.5 to 2 hours to come downtown.

Enter Zoom. I used zoom for an initial meeting for the first time when the clients actually lived out of town. Zoom is similar to skype but is geared more towards multiple participants and has more options than skype. Each participant is able to mute them selves if they wish or can take themselves off video if they need a moment to recompose. The organizer also has the option of muting a participant if needed. In the event you need to caucus with one of the parents, you can go in to a separate “room” that is not accessible to the other parent. I now use it widely with parents if they agree or it is their preference.

Although I cannot compare how an in-person meeting with my Zoom parents might play out, I can say that I have had more successful zoom meetings than I have ever had in person. Parents are comfortable sitting in their own homes, they have not travelled or taken days off to come downtown and are not in the close proximity that an in-person meeting necessitates. If you are ultimately going to do a shuttle meeting, I believe this is a better alternative. Even in the highest conflict situations, I have found most parents are better able to contain their emotions and have a productive discussion. I have also found it easier for the PC to control the conversation. 

While email and telephone calls still remain the most prominent communication method for my PC practice, I will be encouraging the use of Zoom more and more. On a final note, Zoom also allows the PC to do their work from anywhere provided you are careful what the backdrop is to your screen!!!

Elizabeth is the Principal of Medius Dispute Resolutions and the Executive Director of  mediate393 inc., a family dispute resolution service that is subsidized by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Elizabeth’s private practice, through Riverdale Mediation Ltd., is focused on providing effective and informed family mediation, arbitration, mediation/arbitration and parenting coordination involving parenting plans, child and spousal support and property division.

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