You and the other parent have your custody order. It appears to be straightforward and clearly defined. However, the other parent takes every opportunity to argue over any provision of the order that is vague or unclear. The fighting could be for a multitude of reasons like continued anger and distrust of the other person. Whatever the reason, you’d love to go back in front of a Judge (and maybe you already have… more than once) but continued litigation is so expensive. What do you do? Consider a parenting coordinator.
North Carolina allows contentious couples to seek decisive relief without spending large amounts of money continuously going before a Judge. In North Carolina, a Parenting Coordinator (PC) can be appointed in high-conflict custody cases to assist parents outside of court and help them reduce conflict. According to N.C.G.S. §50-90 and §50-93, a PC is an impartial person with an advanced degree in psychology, law, social work, counseling, medicine or a related subject area. He or she must have five years of related post-degree experience and must participate in 24 hours of training related to child development, high-conflict family dynamics, divorce, mediation and problem-solving techniques.
If appointed, the judge is required to specify the authority granted to the PC in a court order. Matters within the PC’s authority can consist of identifying disputed issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring options for compromise and developing methods of collaboration. Perhaps most importantly, a court can grant a PC the authority to decide issues that relate to the implementation of the parenting plan but that aren’t specifically governed by the court order. This power is especially helpful in ensuring custodial issues which come up in everyday routines or emergencies are decided quickly and in the best interest of the child.
Considering the downsides of a parenting coordinator . Understand that a PC cannot make major changes to your custody order and cannot punish a parent for clear violations of a court order. Many parents try to use a PC as a mediator between the parties, involving them in every communication or decision. This is not what a PC should be doing. Parenting coordinators are there to decide largely unresolved issues or issues that just are covered or contemplated by your custody order.
If you believe your situation calls for a parenting coordinator to be appointed, contact us to discuss your legal options today. Not only are our attorneys experienced in highly contested custody cases, our partners are certified parenting coordinators.