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Spotlight on Family Law: What are Parenting Time Coordinators?

There is statistical evidence that high conflict divorces do damage to children. The courthouse should be considered the last option to resolve family conflicts, because contested hearings are expensive, often must be set far off in the future, and the stress of airing a family’s grievances generally serves to intensify rather than resolve the hostility between parties. Unfortunately, there are certain cases which for various reasons seem to return to court over and over again on parenting time issues. 

The Parenting Time Coordinator program is designed for just these cases. A court can assign a Parenting Coordinator (PC) to hear the grievances of the parties and enter limited proposed orders regarding the specific and recurring parenting time conflicts. A PC has the authority to speak with counselors, teachers, parties and children. A PC uses  mediation skills to attempt to work out the conflicts. If there is ultimately is no agreement, then the PC has certain limited powers to resolve those conflicts. 

PCs have no authority to change custody or make significant changes in the amount of time the parties spend with the children. The decision-making is generally limited to issues such as exchange locations and methods, holiday and summer scheduling, right of first refusal, access to records, etc. 

PC’s are trained to draft detailed agreements when needed, much like a mediator. Mediators are not assigned to a case long term, however, and mediators have no ability to make a decision on these issues if the parties are unable to come to an agreement. PC’s can handle this week’s problem over dividing the summer parenting time, for example, and in two months the PC can be called again to address how to handle a work schedule change.  Benefits to the parties are: 

  • Cost
  • Speed
  • Finality
  • Often some individually crafted advice designed to help parties work out their differences on their own in the future.

If you have questions about Parenting Coordination, please feel free to contact one of our family law attorneys.  We will be happy to discuss the process in greater detail.