What options do we have if we’re unable to find a suitable child custody arrangement? What role does a parenting coordinator play in determining child custody? Lee Rosen, retired divorce attorney and founder of the Rosen Law Firm, sums it all up.
Do I need a parenting coordinator? Transcript
Hi, I’m Lee Rosen. Do I need a parenting coordinator?
Custody disputes are among the most contentious cases that we deal with. Parenting coordinators can help to make this process a little smoother. Now most people who go through custody disputes are able to work things out by agreement. A relatively small percentage end up in court. And of that percentage that go to court, there are families where things are just out of control.
Every little decision becomes an issue. Every, every, everything becomes a problem, and literally they can’t deal with a single day without one, two, three, four different upset events that happen. And in these families, where things are just out of control, a parenting coordinator can be a real godsend. It can be a real ray of light shined on the situation that can help to make things better and to make things easier.
So if you’re finding yourself in one of these high conflict, highly contentious, really awful custody disputes – and I’m not talking about the routine ones, I’m talking about the really messy ones – then we should talk about the possibility of a parent coordinator to help with resolving the issues in your situation.
So what is a parent coordinator? Well, these are folks that are trained experts at dealing with high conflict custody cases. They’re neutral. They don’t take a side. They’re not on mom’s side. They’re not on dad’s side. They’re there to sort of be in the middle and listen to everybody and help the parties work together. And that’s a real breath of fresh air, to have somebody in the mix. And in a lot of ways they start to feel like they’re a part of your family.
They do a number of things. One, they can help make small decisions. When mom and dad are butting heads on everything from whether it’s okay for the child to sell Girl Scout cookies at the grocery store to what time bedtime ought to be, sometimes you just need somebody else to step in and decide so that life can go on, and the parent coordinator is the neutral person that can make those little decisions for you.
And the parent coordinator can do a lot more than that. The parent coordinator can help teach mom and dad basic communication skills. This is not the old relationship. This is a new relationship that needs to work in a new way, and sometimes we just need education. Having a partner coordinator who can be available and accessible is important. You can’t go to the judge every time there’s a problem, but you can go to the parenting coordinator.
And so you can start to learn new communication skills and new modeling. The parenting coordinator can really make a difference by being intimately involved in the day-to-day life of the family and teaching both mom and dad new ways of parenting together. So how do you know if you’re one of these families that really needs a parent coordinator? Well, there are some sure signs.
When you’re spending more money on legal fees than you are on the rent or on the mortgage, boy, that’s a good sign. When you’re spending more time with your lawyer than you are with your children, then that’s probably a pretty good sign. When you start to see the signs of wear and tear on your children – the children don’t hold up well in an environment of high conflict between the parents – that’s a good sign that it’s probably an appropriate decision to go ahead and get a coordinator involved.
You’re going to know. You’re going to feel it. You’re going to be comparing your situation to the situations of your friends that are going through this or who have been through it. And you’re going to realize, “You know what? This is not the run-of-the-mill custody dispute. This is World War III, and it’s not getting any better.” There are always peaks and valleys as you go through this process. In most cases, you’ll have your ups, you’ll have your downs, and you’ll eventually start moving closer and closer to agreement.
If that’s not happening at all if, in fact, it’s getting worse and worse and worse over time rather than better and better, then a parenting coordinator is probably a good option for you and your family. Don’t think that having a parent coordinator is in some way a negative thing or a bad thing. It might be the very best thing for you and for your former spouse and for your children. Give it some thought. Maybe it’s the way to go.