By the time a couple has decided to get a divorce, the acrimony between them is often high. It is not uncommon for the contention between the two spouses to be so thick that they are even unable to have a civil conversation with each other. This can make negotiating divorce issues difficult. If the couple has children, this tension between them can make co-parenting impossible. In these situations, the court may decide to appoint a parenting coordinator.
When a divorcing couple does have children, a major part of the divorce settlement is the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time (previously referred to as child custody and visitation). In many divorces, the couple is able to civilly work through and come up with an agreeable parenting plan, usually with the help of their divorce attorneys. But if they cannot get to this point, the court will intervene.
If the couple has significant disagreements about parenting time, the court will order the parents to participate in mediation. The mediator must be on a court-approved list and meet certain requirements, including having either a law degree or an advanced degree in family relationships. The mediator must also have a minimum of two years’ experience in their profession.
If the mediation can help the couple reach an agreement on a parenting plan, that plan will be drafted into a formal parenting time agreement for the court.
Guardian Ad Litem
If the couple is unable to reach an agreement even with the assistance of a mediator, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem. This person is an attorney who is solely focused on what is in the best interests of the child. The guardian ad litem will meet with both parents and the child. In some cases, the guardian ad litem may also meet with extended family members, family friends, the child’s teachers, therapist, and any other appropriate parties....