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Legal Questions about Parenting Coordinator

During a divorce process when parents are not able to agree on child custody or visitation rights, a parenting coordination is often assigned to the case. A parenting coordinator can either be appointed by the court or agreed upon by both parents. A parenting coordinator has the right to make suggestions in the court during the divorce process, and many times the judge makes decisions based upon the best interest of the child and the evidence that the parenting coordinator presents during the case. Read below the most commonly asked questions on parenting coordination.

What is a parenting coordinator?

A parenting coordinator is used in some states to resolve on-going issues with regard to child custody and visitation rights. This is usually a professional psychologist or a lawyer assigned by the court. The parenting coordinator usually meets parents on a regular basis, receives day-to-day questions and complaints regarding either party’s behavior, and makes suggestions to the parties. When a parenting coordinator makes suggestions, they prefer that the parents follow up and adhere to the suggestion. Legally, failure to act on the suggestions of a parenting coordinator could be used against either party in court.

Which states have passed a law on parenting coordinators?

As of May 2011, there are ten states that have passed laws pertaining to parenting coordinators. These include: Colorado since 2005, Idaho 2002, Louisiana 2007, New Hampshire 2009, North Carolina 2005, Oklahoma 2001, Oregon 2002, Texas 2005, Massachusetts and Florida since 2009. In most of these states there is a law that requires the court to order parenting plans to allow the minimum amount of parenting time and access with a the parent not receiving primary custody. According to the laws of many states and the AFCC guidelines, the parenting coordinator cannot change a court order. Only minor changes can be made with respect to parenting time or conditions including vacations, holidays, and temporary modification from the previous parenting plan that was allowed.

What authority does a parenting coordinator have?

Parenting coordinators have many different concerns when deciding on the parents’ relationship with their children. The scope of a parenting coordinator's role can include but is not limited to: • Limiting the parents to where they can and cannot go during their daily visit with the child, and what activities are allowed. • Preventing parents from talking about certain topics with their children. • Receiving complaints from either parent on almost every subject about the other parent’s behavior during the past visit, and making decisions that the parties must follow. These could be about issues like sports that a child can attend, friends they can visit, religious services they can attend, the kind of food a parent can provide, and more. • Deciding, when the parents do not agree, on a non-urgent medical condition pertaining to the child. • Deciding when, where and how long the family and friends of the non-custodial parent can visit the child. • Reporting any suspected child abuse to the Child Protective Services. • And many more decisions considering the child best of interest. If either parent does not agree with what the parenting coordinator has decided, then they can file a motion with the court to make a decision on the undecided issue. Either parent can ask to have a new parenting coordinator appointed to the case, but they would have to show enough proof to convince the court that this is a valid reason to remove the current parenting coordinator.

Can a parent obtain a parental coordination without having a lawyer?

A parent can file in court to resolve custody or visitation issues. The judge can assign a parenting coordinator or, after filing, both parents can agree on a mutually agreeable parenting coordinator and submit a consent order to the judge. If the parents are willing to put the time and research into the matter, many times they may not need a lawyer. However, if custody and visitation is involved, then it is often a good option to have representation by a lawyer.

Can a parenting coordinator make suggestions using the child’s therapist, when the therapist has never met with the child’s father?

Therapists can testify in the court about their impressions and suggestions. However, the other parent can try to deem therapist's testimony biased, untrustworthy or incorrect if the therapist has never spoken with the child’s father, and has made decisions without having all the required information. The rights that a parenting coordinator has can be confusing at times. Some may want to know the rights a parenting coordinator has, or how to appoint a parenting coordinator during their divorce case. Only some states recognize the law for parenting coordinators and even in those states the laws may vary.

Ask a Family Lawyer

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 9283
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
7286322
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
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How JustAnswer Works:

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Family Lawyers are online & ready to help you now

Ely
Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 8085
Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
LawTalk
Attorney and Counselor at Law
Satisfied Customers: 6424
27+ years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
FiveStarLaw
Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6336
25 years of experience helping people like you.

Recent Parenting Coordinator Questions

  • I'm not sure where to start, honestly. My husband is

    I'm not sure where to start, honestly. My husband is involved with a very ugly divorce and we're having serious issues with the mom. In addition to her making multiple unilateral decisions about the children, the most recent situation includes her not providing detailed, frequent, or honest information about one of the minor children recently being arrested for domestic violence. This child has not spoken to dad in 2 years (long story) but he was granted joint decision making as part of the parenting plan. We were recently told that her attorney is going to file an Ex Par Te to take his decision making rights away. We are in the process of filing a VERIFIED MOTION AND AFFIDAVIT FOR CITATION FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT for her multiple violations of the Parenting Plan, but not sure how detailed it should be, or whether it is going to matter once the Ex Par Te is filed - she has stopped responding to all requests for information regarding the immediate issue.

    My husband sees the younger minor child on a regular basis and we're concerned about how the older child's behaviors are going to negatively affect the younger child. The older child has been on suicide watch twice in 2 months, was recently arrested for domestic violence against her ex-boyfriend, wants to change schools because of that incident, is on antidepressants, is not attending the hospital recommended therapy on a regular basis yet has been diagnosed with borderline multiple personality disorder, which we've also been told is a learned behavior, typically from the mother (who has also been identified as multiple personality, narcissistic).

  • Thank you for your excellent service with a family law matter.

    Thank you for your excellent service with a family law matter. I'd like to call on you again for some advice.
    I asked you about a peculiar set of circumstances in family court in Santa Clara. I had my first hearing on July 1, 2014. Subsequently the opposing attorney sent an erroneous FOAH to me (that according to her "she never filed!"). I objected to her FOAH but never heard back. I attended a Young Children's Settlement Team Conference on August 1, 2014. The opposing attorney brought her version of the FOAH to the settlement team, which I also objected to. Despite my best efforts at settlement, the team declared partial agreement, and then I was shuffled off abruptly to what I thought was a JCC (listed as such on the court record information online). Part of the problem was the opposing counsel reintroduced a peculiar request for a modification to my home that was actually withdrawn by her during the initial hearing. We spent about 30 minutes belaboring this point that was ultimately rejected.
    The judge asked the opposing attorney to prepare the settlement items for stipulation. I objected based on her prior unreliability particularly mentioned in court the "omissions and additions" in her prior FOAH. I mentioned this in my prior question to you on Monday, August 4th ("Also, the judge asked the opposing attorney to prepare the findings from the mediation. I objected stating this attorney has erred in the past, so the judge asked us both to prepare together. Are these mediation results also Findings and Orders after Hearing?"). I asked for a transcript of that court date and finally received one over 5 weeks since I requested it, which is also peculiar. Even more surprising, the transcript omits this objection to the opposing attorney's preparation of the settlement items. I can see where the matter was truncated but have no idea how this can be legitimate.
    Now, I am being served with a new FOAH from the August 1, 2014 JCC that apparently the opposing attorney and judge considered a hearing. The new FOAH contains additional onerous requests. I am asked to attend a 12 week coparenting class, despite never doing anything wrong except to request to see my daughter more consistently. It even includes one regarding childcare that is in direct opposition to an existing stipulated judgment from November 2012.
    I did not file the motion to object you recommended yet, because partly I was hoping the problem would go away, but now it is worse.
    What is redeeming is that based on my statements in court on August 1, 2014 that we did not have enough time to address settlement, the JCC (or whatever it was) was continued to September 18, 2014. Before the continuation JCC, I filed a JCC statement outlining the agreed matter on custody and visitation (which is the basis of the original request for order) and addressed the other matter dealing with support. Basically, I argued we had complete agreement on visitation and custody and the opposing attorney wasted time on a withdrawn matter frustrating the settlement. Furthermore, matters of support were already agreed upon in a November 2012 stipulated judgment. Of note, during this session, there was no court reporter. The judge said he received my statement but did not have time to review it. Moreover, there was some movement toward agreement between parties that would be in opposition to the new FOAH prepared by opposing attorney. Particularly, the judge wanted us to meet and confer about a parenting coordinator who would assist with minor matters rather than relying on the court.
    My questions:
    1.) What should I do about the erroneous court transcript? Are there audio recordings in Santa Clara? Or should I file a motion to object and correct the record? I spoke with the clerk who recommended I just write a letter.
    2.) Shouldn't settlement items or findings from the continuation JCC (September 18, 2014) be included in the so-called FOAH from the JCC (or whatever it was) on September 1, 2014?
    3.) Can I request to avoid the coparenting class due to my busy schedule?
    Thanks again
  • I have an order to appear next Wednesday regarding 2 petitions

    I have an order to appear next Wednesday regarding 2 petitions I filed. The first one is a request to enforce the divorce decree that states my ex is responsible for any and all back taxes. I was supposed to receive a state and federal refund and both were intercepted due to back taxes, I have requested reimbursement from my ex and he refuses. The second is a request to enforce our communication order that he continually does not follow (30+ incidences) over the course of the last 8 months.
    Yesterday another court order was violated. Can I bring this up at the hearing on Wednesday?
    Second part of the question is specific to what happened yesterday. We have a parenting coordinator due to multiple disagreements. One of them being our son being diagnosed with ADHD. The ex does not agree with this diagnosis and asked for a second opinion. The parenting coordinator submitted a recommendation to the court which became a court order which stated that a second opinion would be made with a dr. we agreed with and if we couldn't the parenting coordinator would make the decision on the Dr. We each submitted Dr. info and one that I submitted was chosen and another recommendation was submitted to the court detailing this and the judge signed the order. We had the appointment yesterday with this Dr. the ex showed up and refused to pay for the appointment stating he didn't get to choose the dr. and therefore wasn't paying. This is a violation correct? In the first parenting recommendation order it stated my ex agreed to pay for this second opinion. Nothing spelling out payment other than that was stated. The parenting coordinator has wiped her hands of this when I ask her, she states she cannot deal with money related issues and we should revert to our divorce decree and what it states for uncovered medical expenses. Which states it is split 25/75. So at the minimum he should have covered 75% correct. Can I bring this to the judges attention at our hearing on Wednesday?
    Thank you!
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