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Law Offices Of David Bliven
Law Offices Of David Bliven
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Why You Should Consider A Parent Coordinator For Post-Divorce Disagreements

Why You Should Consider A Parent Coordinator For Post-Divorce Disagreements Lawyer, White Plains City

Parent coordinators and facilitators are mediators specifically trained in handling the kind of post-divorce settlement issues that arise between parents, particularly those involving child custody or visitation. While they cannot make a final decision in the same way a court can, they offer a cheaper and more practical, and often less confrontational, source of solutions for such disagreements.

This article explores

  • The kinds of issues and conflicts parent coordinators are called in to handle.
  • How parent coordinators are trained and chosen by New York Family Law courts.
  • The advantages, and disadvantages, of parent coordination, especially when compared to court.

What Issues or Conflicts Do Parent Coordinators Address in Family Law Cases?

Parent coordinators, sometimes also called facilitators, are trained attorneys and mediators who help make recommendations for solutions to some of the delicate or thorny problems which emerge after a divorce.

Most of the time, a parent coordinator is going to be called in for joint custody issues. These are the decisions that come up regularly in the life of the child, but which their parents disagree over. For instance, medical decisions, educational decisions, and extracurricular activity decisions could all be the source of conflicts and are common issues that parent coordinators will deal with. More rarely, a parent coordinator may even have to deal with access issues.

Let us consider a couple of examples. In one post-divorce settlement agreement, the wording is unclear on an aspect of joint custody such as failing to specify particular pickup and drop-off locations for regular visits. And the parents end up with issues, questions, or conflict about what happens if the child is off from school and the agreement does not address that. Another family might be arguing over what happens during summer vacation when their agreement does not address that.

These are the kind of issues where a parent coordinator can step in and guide the parties through the process of solving them. Depending on the wording of the divorce settlement agreement, the parent coordinator may also be empowered to make the decision themselves.

While some might consider that presumptive, it can certainly allow for a faster and less conflictual resolution. In addition, even if so empowered, such a determination is not permanent. Either parent can appeal to the Judge if they adamantly disagree with a recommendation to the parent coordinator, though doing so does require going to court.

How Are Parent Coordinators Chosen and Trained for Family Law Cases?

Parent coordinators and parent facilitators, like other mediators, are generally chosen from a list of trained, certified, and court-approved attorneys. Sometimes, they will even be on the same list of mediators equipped to handle family law cases.

To get onto that list, an attorney needs to undergo certain additional training, courses, and certifications. There is an application process so that the court can look at their credentials, their training, and make sure that they have the experience necessary to mediate or be parent coordinators for family law cases.

If a candidate is deemed not to have enough practical experience, the court may decide to assign them a mentor. This allows them to observe and then conduct mediations or parent coordination sessions with a much more experienced attorney.

The junior attorney will kind of look over the shoulder of the more experienced attorney for several sessions to see how they conduct their sessions. Then the roles will flip and the more junior attorney will handle the mediation or parent coordinating sessions while the more experienced attorney observes. This “second seating” allows them to guide the junior attorney through any mistakes or issues that they may have while they’re doing the mediation themselves and ultimately assess them for court appointment.

Once a lawyer is on the court’s list they will be part of a roster of potential mediators the court can ask to step in. When a mediation or parent coordinating issue comes up in particular cases, the court simply contacts the next available attorney on the list. In Westchester, this is often done with a simple email. If they are not available, then the court will go to the next person on the list. If they are, then they will produce a referral order over to them.

It should be noted there is generally no requirement for mediators to be on the court-approved list. Parties may opt to privately retain a mediator/parent coordinator, meaning the parents can hire one directly without a specific referral from the Court.

What Are the Benefits Of Involving A Parent Coordinator In A Family Law Case?

There are several benefits to choosing parent-coordinator mediation to help resolve a visitation dispute or joint custody disagreement. Especially when compared to taking it to court.

One of the biggest benefits is that parent coordination often happens on your time. Courts will only handle a dispute between the hours of 9-5, which means you are likely to have to take off either a morning, an afternoon, or both, from work to go. The parent coordinating process on the other hand, can take place during evenings or on weekends.

Furthermore, in the greater New York City area, most courts and Judges are going back to in-person appearances. Mediators and parent coordinators, on the other hand, often accommodate Zoom sessions. You may not even have to go into an office at all.

It is also important to remember that by working with both parties, parent coordinators can help avoid more conflictual solutions or burn bridges. In addition to speaking to both parties, a parent coordinator will also often speak to the relevant professional involved (such as a doctor or educator) and get reports to guide their decision-making process to come to the best possible decision. They are impartial and unbiased, their only goal is the smooth resolution of the conflict for the best interest of the child(ren) involved.

The final benefit, however, is cost. If you have to go to court, that means each party is hiring an attorney and going into court for a fight that could take several sessions. Invariably, the costs are at least double those of jointly retaining a parent coordinator or mediator. Therefore, when parent coordination is successful, everyone will save time and money.

What Happens If Parent Coordination Fails?

While parent coordination can help resolve most issues that arise, there are exceptions. Even when the post-divorce agreement requires both parties to follow the mediator’s decision, they can be contested.

This does, however, mean that, unlike a court-based solution, parent coordination is not final and irreversible. Yes, contesting it might require going to court, with the costs that ensue, but doing so would give you another chance at a more favorable outcome if the first was truly unacceptable.

Overall, for most post-divorce parents, and especially those facing minor issues, parent coordination remains a particularly effective and practical solution. For post-judgment issues in particular, when the conflictual part of the divorce, no one wants to open the can of worms all over again for much smaller issues. That is where the parent coordinator comes into play. And certainly, when a minor dispute arises months or even years after a divorce, it is worth giving a parent coordinator a shot before moving for any more drastic or costly solutions.

For more information on Issues Handled By Parent Coordinators In NY, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (914) 362-3080 today.

Law Offices Of David Bliven

Call Now To Schedule A 20-minute Case Assessment
Or Full 50-minute Case Strategy Consultation!
(347) 797-1188 | (914) 362-3080