There’s a trend seen in family law cases. Sometimes after a case is over and determinations finalize, people seem unable to move on. Even though the case finished, the parties continue to struggle. They continue to conflict with one another and sometimes rehash the same old fights. This trend is all the more common when it comes to cases involving children. Because of this tendency, the court will occasionally appoint a third party to manage some of the issues, after a decree is official entered.
The appointment may be initiated by the court in its own way. First and foremost, a parenting coordinator is appropriate when the parties fail to implement the parenting plan adequately. In this instance, a parenting coordinator may be called upon to assist the parties in effectively implementing the parenting plan.
“Effectively implementing the parenting plan” may include efforts such as: assisting parents in creating agreed-upon, structured guidelines for implementation; developing communication guidelines; offering appropriate resources for the parents to build better communication and/or parenting skills; assisting in identifying sources of, contributions to, and causes of conflict; and assisting in developing strategies to minimize friction. If used effectively, parenting coordinators can support parties by reducing tension, reducing conflict, and eventually helping parents in promoting healthy and active co-parenting skills.
While parenting coordinators may be useful in some cases, they lack the ability to make binding decisions. If the parties desire the assistance of someone with binding authority to make decisions, they may agree to appoint a decision maker. The critical distinction here is that a decision-maker will issue decisions to file with the court, which eventually can bind the parties to the decision made. Although they may have binding authority, the scope of a decision maker’s power is limited by statute.
The primary limitation of a decision-maker is that they are empowered only to implement or clarify existing court orders concerning the parties’ minor or dependent children. Therefore, they aren’t allowed to create new or additional terms or deal with issues beyond those about the kids. Instead, their role is more for purposes of seeing that current court orders regarding children obeying.
Decision makers can be extremely beneficial in especially high-conflict cases. Because the decision maker is vested with binding authority, it may reduce costs associated with litigation. Furthermore, decision-makers tend to be more readily available to handle disputes than attempts to proceed through the courts. Finally, because the parties are allowed to select the appointed decision-maker, the parties may feel more satisfied with having been able to choose the individual responsible for making determinations.
There is a natural tendency for some tension and conflict to exist when two people with children separate their lives. However, the friction is sometimes too high, too counterproductive, or too vitriolic. If you continue to have issues with the other parent of your children, perhaps a parenting coordinator or decision-maker would be appropriate in your case. If this description matches your situation, it might be best to consult with an attorney.
At Modern Family Law, we specialize in family law. We have the knowledge and expertise regarding court-appointed neutrals, and we can help you. If you wish to speak to an attorney, we provide consultations at no cost. So call us today to see what we can do for you.
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