Entry of a custody and parenting time order unfortunately does not end the fighting and disagreements between the parties. Parties always find other issues to fight about and many will try to take advantage of any opening they see in the custody order. In such high conflict cases, arguing often begets arguing. When one party raises an issue and involves the courts, the other party will want to respond with complaints of their own and a return trip to court. Left unchecked, the already deteriorating relationship between the parties will spiral out of control and they will escalate even the most trivial disputes to court. While the parties have the right to ask the court to make a decision, that doesn’t mean they should. Courts generally do not enjoy repeat customers and do not want to waste their time deciding ridiculous arguments over what deodorant is appropriate for the child.
Fortunately, family law attorneys and courts have many tools at their disposal to address co-parenting issues in order to avoid never-ending litigation. While not every situation can be resolved short of a court hearing, it is in everyone’s best interests to address the disagreements before they get out of control and attempt other methods prior to taking matters to the judge. When the court makes its final decision, one side will often feel slighted and the animosity will continue.
One effective solution can be the appointment of a parenting time coordinator. A parenting time coordinator is a neutral third party, an attorney or mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor, that will work with the parties to resolve their disputes. Michigan law specifically allows for the appointment of a parenting time coordinator and describes the scope, duties, and role of a parenting time coordinator. MCL 722.27c. Parenting time coordinators offer many advantages that can reduce animosity and ease tensions in a high conflict divorce and involve more collaborative approaches. Parenting time coordinators can use different processes and adjust those in accordance with their appointment.
Parenting time coordinators cannot change custody, but they can address other issues that may not warrant court intervention. This process is aimed at implementing the parenting time plan and other parenting time provisions where there is disagreement. The parenting time coordinator will work to facilitate the resolutions of these disputes and make recommendations when the parties cannot agree. Common disagreements that parenting time coordinators regularly address include minor alterations to the parenting time schedule, issues involving holiday parenting time, transportation of the children, school issues, medical issues, extracurricular activity issues, and other problems that do not necessarily warrant court involvement.
Other advantages of a parenting time coordinator include the cost and time. Court appearances can be expensive when taking into consideration the costs associated with drafting pleadings, preparation and the appearance itself. Depending on the dispute, further hearings may be required. This not only adds additional costs, but you are at the mercy of on the court’s schedule and it could take weeks or months to reach a resolution of the issue. With a lengthy process, it is easy for resentment and animosity to grow further damaging the relationship between the parties. The sooner the issue is addressed, the quicker the parties can move on. A parenting time coordinator will have more scheduling flexibility than the courts in order to quickly address and resolve the situation.
Law Offices of Kathryn M. Wayne-Spindler, P.C. can assist you. We can explore all legal options with you, formulate a plan based on your goals, and resolve your dispute. Please contact our Milford office at (248) 676-1000 to discuss your specific real estate needs. We help clients throughout Southeastern Michigan, including Genesee, Oakland Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties, as well as Mid-Michigan in Clare, Gladwin, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties. Our experienced attorneys have counseled such clients in Milford, Hartland, Highland, White Lake, Commerce, Walled Lake, Waterford, West Bloomfield, South Lyon, New Hudson, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Holly, Fenton, Flint, Linden, Clarkston, Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, Roscommon and many more local communities.