For some separating and divorcing families, disagreements about parenting the children persist long after there is a resolution of the major issues. These can include disputes about parenting time, scheduling, holidays and vacation, education and health care.
In California, the Superior Court always has the power to resolve disputes between parents related to their minor children. At the same time, preparing a formal request for a court order, scheduling a court hearing, participating in court mandated mediation, and then appearing at that hearing to argue your case, can be a daunting, time-consuming and expensive undertaking.
In situations where disputes arise on a regular basis, one option is to hire a Parenting Coordinator (also sometimes called a Special Master or Referee). By agreement of the parents, a Parenting Coordinator can be given the authority to make legally binding decisions on some parenting disputes. There are often other matters where the Parenting Coordinator is empowered to make a recommendation to the court, rather than a binding order. The scope of the Parenting Coordinator’s authority must be specifically spelled out in the document that appoints the Parenting Coordinator. Generally, the parents interact directly with the Parenting Coordinator by phone or email, without the involvement of attorneys.
A Parenting Coordinator typically serves for a period of 2 years, or for a longer or shorter period of time, depending on the agreement of the parents. If both parents agree, the Parenting Coordinator’s authority can be terminated before the end of the term.
The fees for a Parenting Coordinator are typically charged on an hourly basis and are typically shared equally by the parents. While there is no fee to have your matter heard by a sitting superior court judge, it can take weeks to schedule a hearing and, where one or both parents have an attorney, the costs add-up quickly.
David Fink has more than 20 years’ experience as a Parenting Coordinator, both working alone and in coordination with a mental health professional. In taking these assignments, it is his goal to help parents get to a point where they no longer need someone to resolve disputes for them. Until that time, he offers a prompt and efficient dispute resolution process that allows parents and children to move on with their daily lives. Please let us know if we can help.