QUESTION: Which parenting scenarios might be prime for Parenting Coordination Process?
A: A parent is consistently late for child visitation exchanges. The parents repeatedly fight and return to court over drop-off and pickup arrangements.
B: Ex-spouses disagree about a child’s mental health treatment plan. There is regular conflict regarding medications, supplements, vitamins, diet and exercise.
C: A parent has a new job and wants a permanent, one-time alteration to the visitation schedule.
D: Both parents generally work well together but dispute holiday arrangements every year.
E: One parent regularly uses the threat of court action to coerce the other parent into agreeing to new custody or visitation terms.
ANSWER: All of the above.
Parenting Coordination Process Popular for High-Conflict Custody Cases
Scenario A: The Parent Coordination Process is becoming popular for resolution of high-conflict co-parenting cases. A couple may decide voluntarily to work cooperatively with a parent coordinator to keep custody matters out of the courtroom. In some cases, a judge may try to require co-parents to seek parent coordination services. Either way, the couple usually agrees to share costs for the coordinator and signs a contract outlining the parent coordination timeline and scope. Successful Parent Coordination has been shown to result in more peaceful co-parenting and fewer expensive, contentious and time-consuming motions and post-judgment modifications.
As in Scenario A, the Parenting Coordinator can help the couple resolve short-term, high-conflict co-parenting matters. Quite often, the PC can mediate a resolution more quickly than the couple can get relief through traditional methods involving attorneys, motions and court appearances. This couple may want to consider an attorney as a Parenting Coordinator so that binding arbitration is an option. In the case of Binding Arbitration, both parties must give the PC the authority to make decisions and enforce them. Although social workers may also serve as Parenting Coordinators, they do not have the authority to enforce their recommendations.
Scenario B: A Parenting Coordinator can help the couple negotiate day-to-day childcare issues including medical and educational decisions. In the case of mental health or medical disagreements, it may be wise to select a Parenting Coordinator with therapy or health-care backgrounds.
Scenario C: The Parenting Coordination Process may be effective for one-time changes to child custody orders. An attorney can handle matters of permanent changes to the visitation schedule or change of domicile requests as well.
Scenario D: When the couple generally agrees and works well together, a Parenting Coordinator can coordinate the negotiations to alter the existing holiday visitation agreement.
In Scenario E: In some cases, Parenting Coordination can save money compared to frequent litigation. With the threat of expensive legal action off the table, both parties are on equal terms to negotiate childcare agreements.
In a recent ICLE (Institute for Continuing Legal Education) seminar, contributor Laura Eisenberg detailed several tips for a successful partnership.
- Make sure the case warrants a Parent Coordinator
- Research the Parent Coordinator
- Know the Judge’s standards and expectations
- Determine Specific Goals
- Draft a comprehensive Parent Coordination order
- Consider Binding Authority
- Continue working with an Attorney
- Get Parent Coordinator recommendations in writing
Milford Child Custody Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler emphasizes determining specific goals. “A Parenting Coordinator should not be viewed as an all-around divorce referee or therapist but can be very helpful in resolving disputes”
With more than 20 years experience working with contentious co-parents, Wayne-Spindler has seen many families benefit from Parenting Coordination. For advice about effective Parenting Coordination, contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-685-8888. Kathryn Wayne-Spindler handles cases throughout the five Southeast Michigan Counties of Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee and Livingston. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates help clients in Milford, Hartland, Highland, White Lake, Wixom, South Lyon, New Hudson, Howell, Waterford, Walled Lake, Commerce, Holly, Grand Blanc, Linden, Clarkston and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long
Communications Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates