Many times, during a high conflict custody case, parents cannot reach agreements on the logistics for parenting their children. The parents may not be able to agree on locations for custody exchanges, whether a child needs to take concentration medication, or in what extracurricular activities the parents can participate in. Parents who cannot navigate a resolution on such issues may limited ways to resolve these outstanding issues and going back to court can create additional expenses and the issues raised in the disputes might not be the kind of legal issues a court can even address.
In high conflict custody cases, the court can appoint a Parenting Coordinator, either on motion of one of the parties or the court’s own motion. A Parenting Coordinator is an impartial person who has received training on, among other things, the dynamics of high conflict families and problem-solving techniques. In the appropriate case, Parenting Coordinators can help parents learn how to make decisions together and, if necessary, can ultimately make certain decisions for the parents when they cannot resolve decision issues between themselves. A neutral decision maker, a Parenting Coordinator can reduce the amount of time involved in hiring lawyers to deal with unresolved issues and, therefore, can reduce both the expenses and the overall amount of conflict between separated parents.
A Parenting Coordinator can be appointed in a child custody case upon a showing that the parties consent to the appointment, or upon a showing that 1) the custody case is a high conflict custody case, 2) the appointment of the Parenting Coordinator is in the best interest of the child or children, and the parties are able to pay for the costs of the Parenting Coordinator. The parties would be responsible for paying for the Parenting Coordinator’s time working on the case, and those fees and costs are usually allocated equally between the parties.
Attorney Robin Stinson has been trained as a Parenting Coordinator. She has served and continues to serve many families in crisis as a Parenting Coordinator.