Custody and parenting time issues are highly contentious and hotly contested in many New Jersey divorce cases. Because of this, a Parent Coordinator can serve divorcing parties well by assisting them in trying to resolve their issues.
Often times when either the parties agree or the Court enters an Order regarding same, a Parent Coordinator will be appointed in a case to take a directive role to resolve conflicts surrounding parenting issues.
A Parent Coordinator is not a therapist, counselor, or advocate for the parties. Rather, a Parent Coordinator helps facilitate communication and agreement on parenting or custody issues when possible. Also, the Parent Coordinator makes recommendations to the parties in writing when an agreement cannot be reached. When either party disputes the recommendation, they may seek Court intervention. In this instance, the written recommendation of the Parent Coordinator is provided to the Court.
What Does a Parent Coordinator Look At?
Some areas upon which a Parent Coordinator may be helpful and make recommendations to the parties include:
- Dates, times, places and conditions for transitions of the children between households.
- Temporary variation from the parenting time schedule for a special event or particular circumstance.
- Children’s participation in recreation, enrichment, extra-curricular activities, programs and travel.
- Childcare arrangements.
- Clothing, equipment, toys and children’s personal possessions.
- Discipline and behavior management of children.
- Information exchange (school, health, social etc.) and communication about the children.
- Arrangements for the children’s health care reimbursements.
- Clarification and minor modifications of provisions in the court-ordered parenting plan, including but not limited to, holiday and vacation plans.
- Communication with the children when they are in the other parent’s household.
- Communication between the parties concerning the children.
- Coordination of and participation in additional services for either of the parents or children, (e.g. psychological testing, alcohol or drug monitoring/testing, psychotherapy, anger management, parenting class, etc. ).
Benefits of a Parent Coordinator
Having a Parent Coordinator in a case where the parties cannot agree on issues pertaining to their children can be extremely beneficial. As a result, a Parent Coordinator reduces Court involvement and/or intervention. A Parent Coordinator is a neutral third party acting in the children’s best interest attempting to reach a fair compromise of the issues at hand. The parties meet directly with the Parent Coordinator and outline for the Parent Coordinator the issues they have and their proposed resolution. The Parent Coordinator will work with both parties to try to reach an agreement. The Parent Coordinator writes a recommendation when an agreement cannot be reached.
It is the hope that the parties in dealing with the Parent Coordinator are able to reach an agreement and resolve conflicts with cooperation and communication with the children being their paramount consideration.
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