What is a Parenting Coordinator in an Arizona Child Custody Case?
If children are involved in your case and you have joint legal decision making and are experiencing significant or recurring disagreements regarding decisions affecting your children, you may consider appointing a Parenting Coordinator.
A Parenting Coordinator is typically a mental health professional, although there are Arizona family law attorneys and others listed on the approved Parenting Coordinator Roster. Parenting Coordinators who are appointed by the court are available to assist parents in resolving day to day disputes that may arise between parents regarding the care and upbringing of their children.
The Parenting Coordinator will either speak with you on the phone or bring both parties into their office when one of the parents notifies him or her of a dispute regarding the children. The Parenting Coordinator will listen to what both parents have to say and review the evidence the parties present. The Parenting Coordinator will then issue a report and recommendation to the Court regarding his or her opinion as to what should be done to resolve the dispute.
The court will often adopt a Parenting Coordinator’s recommendation as the order of the court unless either party objects. If either party objects to the recommendations of the Parenting Coordinator, the court will set an evidentiary hearing, listen to the evidence presented by both parties, and issue a ruling he or she believes to be in the best interests of the children.
It is important to know what a Parenting Coordinator may do and what they may not do in your case. A Parenting Coordinator may only deal with decisions affecting the child. For example, such decisions would include which doctor the child goes to, which school the child attends, disagreements regarding the child’s participation in extra-curricular activities. enforcement of the existing parenting time schedule ordered by the court, and minor changes in that parenting time, such as when a parent may pick up the child for his or her parenting time.
The Parenting Coordinator is not permitted to make major changes to the parenting time schedule the court has ordered. They may, however, from time to time make minor changes to the parenting time schedule. They cannot, however, make substantial changes to the parenting time schedule or decisions or recommendations regarding any financial issues such as child support.
Having a Parenting Coordinator assigned to your case will very likely save you time and money when you have continual disagreements regarding issues affecting your child. If you don’t have a Parenting Coordinator in place, you are left with two options. One option is to file a motion with the court, wait several months for a hearing, wait for the judge to issue a ruling on the issue, and most likely incur attorney fees. This process can take months to complete.
If you have a Parenting Coordinator appointed on your case, you can simply pick up the phone, speak to your Parenting Coordinator, and can typically expect to receive a recommendation within a few days. That recommendation will normally be adopted by the Court as the order of the Court soon thereafter. If either party files an objection to the report, the Court is required to hold an evidentiary hearing to enable the Court to then issue a ruling on the issue.
We often recommend the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator if it is evident there will be on-going conflict between the parents to protect our clients from having to come back and pay our law firm to continuously litigate ongoing issues.
You should also understand that, although a judge may appoint a Parenting Coordinator to make recommendations regarding issues concerning your children, the court cannot delegate the judge’s obligation to provide the parents an opportunity to object to those recommendations, the court’s obligation to allow the parties to present evidence at a trial based upon those objections, and the trial court’s obligation to independently issue orders based upon the evidence presented at that trial. You should read our summary of the Arizona Court of Appeals decision in the Depasquale v. Superior Court case to learn more about the limits of a Parenting Coordinator’s authority in an Arizona child custody case.
You may also want to consider reading our other article about the Arizona Court of Appeals ruling in Contreras v. Bourke, which found the court violated a parent’s right to due process after conducting an evidentiary hearing on an objection to a Parenting Coordinator’s report and recommendations to understand the additional limitations placed upon the court when conducting a hearing based upon a Parenting Coordinator’s report and recommendations.
Contact Our Scottsdale Arizona Child Custody Attorneys
Contact us today or call us at (480) 305-8300 to schedule your consultation with one of our Scottsdale Arizona Child Custody Attorneys regarding child custody issues, the divorce process or any other Arizona family law matter.