What is a PCDM and do I need one?

You may have heard someone reference a “PCDM”.  But what does that mean?  A PCDM is an acronym for a Parenting Coordinator and Decision-Maker.  It is a role we use in custody cases when parents have a hard time communicating or agreeing on what certain provisions of their parenting plan mean, or who may need help overcoming difficult disagreements or obstacles in implementing their parenting plan and desire an efficient, cost effective resolution.  The PCDM role entails two distinct roles – the parenting coordinator (PC) and decision-maker (DM), which may be appointed separately or jointly, depending on the needs of the case and the agreements of the parties.

Parenting Coordinator

A parenting coordinator, the “PC” portion of the role, is authorized pursuant to C.R.S. §14-10-128.1 and generally has very limited authority.  A parenting coordinator is a neutral third party appointed by the court by the parties’ agreement or ordered by the court absent agreement.  However, the court cannot appoint a parenting coordinator over the parties’ objections unless it finds the parties have been unable to implement the parenting plan, that mediation was attempted and unsuccessful or inappropriate, and that appointment of a parenting coordinator is in the child(ren)’s best interests.  Appointments are for two years unless the parties agree to a different term.

The role of the parenting coordinator is to assist in resolving disputes between the parties relating to implementation of their parenting plan, disagreements over interpretation of provisions within the parenting plan, and sometimes providing suggestions as to best practices in co-parenting.  For instance, a parenting coordinator may work with the parties to develop an agreed upon guideline for implementation of the parenting plan, inform them of resources that may assist in improving communication and co-parenting, and help the parties consider causes of conflict so that they may work to reduce the conflict.  A parenting coordinator, however, has no authority to mandate either or both of the parties to do anything.  They act only as a facilitator, providing guidance and resources.  In large part, this role is similar to that of a mediator.

In more difficult situations – such as where parties are generally incapable of coming to agreements on their own – a decision-maker should be considered.


The decision-maker is the “DM” portion of the PCDM role.  Unlike a parenting coordinator, which may be appointed by the court regardless of the parties’ agreement, a decision-maker may not be appointed by the court. Once appointed by the court, the decision-maker has binding authority to resolves disputes between the parties as to implementation or clarification of existing order concerning parenting time, parental decisions, and child support.  A decision-maker can issue decisions clarifying a parenting plan and instructing as to how a parenting plan will be implemented.  Additionally, a decision-maker can determine additional orders, consistent with the intent of the parenting plan, to help clarify or implement the parenting plan.  In this way, a decision-maker becomes a very powerful, effective, and efficient way to resolve disagreements and bypass the lengthy and costly route of submitting your disagreement to the court to decide.  Once a decision is made, the decision-maker files it with the court where, unless objected to by a party, it becomes an order of the court.  As with the parenting coordinator, a decision-maker appointment is for two years unless the parties agree to a different term.

Our attorneys are certified mediators and provide services as PCDMs.  If you are interested in learning more about the role of the PCDM, or would like to engage one of our attorneys as a parenting coordinator and/or decision-maker, contact us.