As in any divorce with minor children involved, decisions concerning the children can be difficult to make. In such tumultuous times, a parenting coordinator (PC) is assigned to the case to help with those difficult decisions. A PC is an impartial person who meets the following qualifications:
- Holds a masters or doctorate degree in psychology, law, social work, counseling, medicine, or a related subject area;
- Has at least 5 years of related professional post-degree experience;
- Holds a current license in the parenting coordinator’s area of practice, if applicable;
- Participates in 24 hours of training in related topics.
The court may appoint a PC at any time during the proceedings of a child custody action involving minor children if all parties consent to the appointment. The court may also appoint a PC without the consent of the parties upon entry of a custody order, other than an ex parte order, OR if there are specific findings that the action is a high-conflict case. An action is a high-conflict case if the parties demonstrate an ongoing pattern of any of the following:
- Excessive litigation;
- Anger and distrust;
- Verbal abuse;
- Physical aggression or threats of physical aggression;
- Difficulty communicating about and cooperating in the care of the minor children;
- Conditions that in the discretion of the court warrant the appointment of a parenting coordinator.
The appointment of a PC shall specify what issues they are to assist parties in resolving. Such matters a PC shall help parties resolve include:
- Identify disputed issues;
- Reduce misunderstandings;
- Clarify priorities;
- Explore possibilities for compromise;
- Develop methods of collaboration in parenting;
- Comply with the court’s order of custody, visitation, or guardianship.
The next step in this process is the parties, their attorneys, and the PC must all attend the appointment conference. At this conference, the court shall explain to the parties the PC’s role, authority, and responsibilities as specified in the appointment order and any agreement entered into by the parties. The PC is obligated to receive a reasonable fee for his/her work, and the PC shall not be liable for damages for acts or omissions of ordinary negligence arising from their duties and responsibilities as a PC.
The parties must comply with the recommendations of the PC until the court reviews the decisions. However, the PC, any party, or the attorney for either party may request an expedited hearing to review a PC’s decision.
Meetings between the PC and the parties can be informal but such communications are not confidential. If at any time the PC determines the existing custody order is not in the best interests of the child, or the PC is not qualified to address or resolve a certain issue, the PC shall promptly provide written notification to the court, the parties, and the attorneys. A hearing must be held within two weeks from the time the report was submitted.
Here at Rech Law we have experience working with Parenting Coordinators in divorces dealing with minor children. Call Rech Law, P.C. today for guidance on dealing with these difficult times at (704) 659-0007.