PARENT INFORMATION REGARDING THE USE OF PARENTING COORDINATORS
Using a Parenting Coordinator to help make recommendations to the court about your children can be a useful alternative to repeatedly going to court and having a judge make decision.
A Parenting Coordinator is a mental health professional, mediator or family law attorney, who can assist in helping parents resolve disputes about what is best for the children and can make recommendations about children if the parents are unable to do so.
Parents may want to consider hiring a Parenting Coordinator when other avenues of problem resolution have not resulted in an ability to make recommendations to the court about their children and there continue to be disagreements about such issues as schedules, overnight parenting time, choice of schools, extracurricular activities, troubles at the point of transferring the child, holiday scheduling, the handling of the children's behavior, religious training, health issues, and problematic behaviors on the part of one or both parents. Many times, the family has already participated in a custody/access evaluation. When the parents hire a Parenting Coordinator, the parents may agree to give the Parenting Coordinator the power to make determinations which will be immediately effective. The Parenting Coordinator may also have the power to make short-term determinations in an emergency, even without the consent of the parties.
Parents may agree to use a Parenting Coordinator and agree to a specific person or the Court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator and may appoint a specific person to be Parenting Coordinator of the Court's own choosing.
After a Parenting Coordinator has been ordered, he/she may want to meet the parents, perhaps meet the children, and review evaluations and other documents that will help them get to know the family and types of problems that have come up in the past. With some Parenting Coordinators and with some families, there will be regular meetings; in other families or with other Parenting Coordinators, meetings will happen when a problem arises. When a dispute occurs, the Parenting Coordinator may try to help the parents mediate the problem. The Parenting Coordinator might want to get other information such as the child's opinion, information from doctors, therapists, schools or other caretakers. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the Parenting Coordinator then makes a recommendation to the court for a court order. The Parenting Coordinator will decide how the communications with the parties will take place.
If one parent is opposed to the recommendation, he/she can file an objection within ten days and the recommendation can be reviewed by the court. The Court will accept the recommendation of the Parenting Coordinator unless it is clearly erroneous. If the parties agree, the of the Parenting Coordinator recommendation stands and is in effect throughout this objection process until further order of the court. For major issues such as a change in custody or a significant change in the parenting time schedule, the Parenting Coordinator may submit his or her concerns to the court and the parties.
Hiring a Parenting Coordinator is a serious matter than can be very helpful. It is especially helpful for families who continue to have disagreements. Parenting Coordinators are also useful in families where parents have concerns about drugs, alcohol, abuse or the stability of the other parent.
Once the court or you decide to have a Parenting Coordinator and have named that person in a court order, you may be with that person for the whole term that is defined in the order. If the Parenting Coordinator feels that he/she cannot be helpful to the family, he/she can resign. If one parent is unhappy with the Parenting Coordinator, that parent cannot solely discharge the Parenting Coordinator. If the Parenting Coordinator makes a recommendation that seems wrong to one parent or if the Parenting Coordinator acts in a manner that seems unprofessional, the parent should first talk with the Parenting Coordinator about their complaints. If the parent is still unsatisfied, they should follow the procedures contained in the court order. The judge will make the ultimate decision whether the Parenting Coordinator should be removed.
Parenting Coordinator records cannot be subpoenaed and they cannot be made to testify about his/her recommendations. The reason for giving the Parenting Coordinator this protection is that they may be making recommendations that one parent may not like. If every time they made a recommendation that was unpopular, they could be forced to disclose their records, professionals would soon stop doing this kind of work.
The Parenting Coordinator's goals are somewhat different than that of a judge. A judge's job is to make orders that are based on the law and in the best interests of the children. A Parenting Coordinator's determinations must be legally sound and in the best interests of the children, and additionally may help families learn effective problem- solving strategies. Whenever possible, a major goal is to help families develop their skills so they do not need a Parenting Coordinator. If this can be accomplished, the power to make recommendations about their children is back in the hands of the parents.
The fees for the services of a Parenting Coordinator are paid by the parents, usually equally. Most Parenting Coordinators request a retainer when they begin their work with a family. Before a Parenting Coordinator is appointed, the judge will decide what portion of the fee will be paid by each parent. However, the Parenting Coordinator is free to adjust their division of payment in special circumstances. Under some circumstances, such services may be available through the Family Center for the Conciliation Court.
The use of a Parenting Coordinator will usually reduce the need to go to court to resolve differences, and therefore should be cost effective. Your attorney can be beneficial in dealing with the Parenting Coordinator.
The Parenting Coordinator is there to help solve the problems that arise without the parties needing to go to court. The amount of time required with the Parenting Coordinator or the number of meetings with the Parenting Coordinator will be determined by the conduct of the parties. The Parenting Coordinator will determine the actual number of meetings that are necessary for any specific issue/issues.
The judge who has signed the order of appointment in this matter wishes the parties well, and sincerely hopes that the problems arising can be resolved amicably.