Suggested safeguards and limitations for effective and permissible parenting coordination (facilitation or case management) in South Africa
For very good reasons parenting coordination, although not labelled as such, has rapidly developed abroad and in South Africa as an alternative dispute resolution process for resolving parenting issues of chronically conflicted or high-conflict divorced or separated parties. If practiced effectively, parenting coordination has the potential to provide substantial benefits for divorcing or separating parties, their children and the court system. The reasons for the development of parenting coordination and the benefits it offers will be elucidated in the following pages.1 As parenting coordination has been implemented in haste and in an unsystematic and uncoordinated fashion, it has given rise to considerable confusion and both ethical and practice dilemmas. The current problems with parenting coordination in South Africa are therefore examined in the second part of this article.2 To ensure that its benefits are maximised, it is imperative to give immediate and incisive attention to the foundation, parameters and standardisation of this new and innovative dispute resolution process. In this regard this article will address issues such as the incorrect and inconsistent use of terminology, the lack of training, standardised qualification requirements and practice standards for parenting coordinators, the question of whether parenting coordination is an unlawful delegation of judicial power, the question of whether parenting coordination amounts to arbitration, and the funding of the parenting coordination services for low-income families. In conclusion, an appeal is sounded for a national education campaign on parenting coordination and the possibility is raised that new legislation may be required to properly regulate this new intervention.
- Madelene (Leentjie) de Jong. BLC LLB (UP) LLD (UNISA). Professor of Private Law, UNISA, South Africa. Admitted attorney. SAAM-accredited mediator. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Paras 2.1 and 2.2.
2 Para 3 below.