After a protracted custody battle that lasted some six years after they officially divorced, supermodel Christie Brinkley and her ex-husband, architect Peter Cook, have finally reached an agreement with respect to their children.
The pair finalized their divorce in 2007, after Cook admitted to an affair with an 18-year old woman. However, the acrimony continued long after their divorce papers were signed, with the parties engaged in a half-decade long battle over their two children, daughter Sailor, 14 and son Jack, 17.
In particular, their marital discord manifested itself in a series of public smear campaigns by the parties, with each continually turning to the press as a medium of attack. So, it comes as a surprise that the parties were finally able to come to an agreement just one day before the matter was set to go to trial.
Among other provisions of their settlement, the pair has agreed to never speak to one another again. Instead, the parents will make use of a parenting coordinator to manage their interactions relating to their children.
In Ontario, parenting coordinators are typically retained to assist parties who experience high levels of conflict surrounding the resolution of custody and access issues.
Among other functions, the parenting coordinator is tasked with improving communication between the parties, developing conflict resolution skills and most importantly, developing a parenting plan by which the parties will abide.
In 2005, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) released its Guidelines for Parenting Coordination, creating a benchmark for professionals in this field by establishing a series of standards and best practices. Among these practices, the Guidelines require parenting coordinators to screen parties prior to the provision of service, to identify any power imbalances or evidence of domestic violence that may exist. Professionals in this role must also receive training in family law and appropriate screening procedures.
Referrals to a parenting coordinator must be made by a lawyer for either party, whereupon the parties will be screened and will begin to provide information regarding their family history and current challenges.
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