Parenting Time Bullet Guide (Part 3): Parent Coordinators and Joint Legal Custody

Closeupfamily-300x200Welcome back to this third installment in our series of Parenting Time bullet point guides. Following on from the other fast-paced guides I’ve produced on this website about divorce and child custody, this particular handbook will cover everything you need to know about visitation rights, and the decisions that need to be made about parenting time for a child’s future.

So far, we’ve addressed topics like parental relationships, same-sex couples, the rights of stepparents and more. Today, we’re going to be examining when it might be appropriate for joint legal custody to be with the parents, and what that means for visitation schedules.

We’ll also be looking at the actions of parent coordinators in the legal landscape, and how they can help with things like making parenting time decisions.

Awarding Joint Legal Custody in New York

The courts of New York and Long Island may occasionally determine that the best interest of a child involves giving a set of parents “joint legal custody” over that child. Typically, the term “joint custody” describes custody from the decision making perspective, rather than joint physical custody (which can have its own impact on parenting and visitation times).

  • Legal custody refers to when both of the parents are given the right to decide important issues about their child, such as how health care and educational issues should be addressed. When a divorce or custody agreement is amicable, parents might agree, with their Child Custody Attorneys, to joint custody agreements voluntarily, and this agreement will usually be approved by the judge.
  • While the courts can require parents to share physical custody of children or require visitation times and parenting orders to be adhered to, they often won’t force joint parenting on a family from a legal perspective if the parents do not agree to do it (of course, as with everything else there are exceptions). The courts will always do what they consider to be in the best interests of the child. If the couple doesn’t get along well enough for joint legal custody to make sense, then the courts probably would not suggest using this method.
  • When joint legal custody is awarded to parents, this won’t always have a direct impact on the way that parenting, and visitation time is split between both parties. However, it may indicate that the parents have a good enough relationship to come up with their own visitation time agreements which the courts may then approve.
  • If joint legal custody or joint physical custody is the aim of any case involving children, it’s probably a good idea to seek the assistance of the right professionals to present this concept to the courts.

What are Parent Coordinators in Child Custody?

Child custody, parenting time, and visitation cases can be a challenging area of family law, when there are disagreements between the parents, like any area involving children. Some custody battles between parents are full of complexities, emotion, and frustration, which also means that they’re poised to become more hostile. In some circumstances, this could mean that additional support is necessary to ensure that the best interests of the child are met.

  • A parenting coordinator is a professional to help with decision making issues, typically at the point after the case has already been completed. If there are two parents voting in the case of joint legal custody, there can be issues where neither parent can come to an agreement with the other. When this is the case, parenting coordinators may be called.
  • These professionals offer valuable guidance on all kinds of issues that can arise after a joint custody agreement has been made. They can support parents in making decisions about where children should go to school, making medical decisions and more. The idea is that the parent coordinator is in place to remind the parents to put the needs of the child first and consider the child’s best interests in all things.
  • Parenting coordinators won’t necessarily make decisions about things like how visitation agreements and parenting time issues should be handled, or who should be the primary caretaker of the child. However, a parent coordinator can help with high-conflict issues and cases where decisions cannot be made. Most states offer the option of accessing a parental coordinator in these difficult cases.
  • As poor communication is a frequent cause for the breakdown of a marriage, it makes sense that some parents may need the assistance of a professional to help them discuss their options when it comes to things like arranging parenting plans and visitation agreements. Parent coordinator meetings can be an opportunity to come to terms on these complex cases.
  • In many cases, meetings with parental coordinators will not be attended by the attorneys of the parents involved. Instead, these meetings offer an environment where parents can access dispute resolution strategies, counseling, and parental education. Coordinators may even offer to help solve issues over the phone for day-to-day disputes.
  • Parenting coordinators can sometimes be given significant sway and power in a child custody or parenting time order. While these professionals won’t always be able to determine who should be given custody, they can give recommendations about visitation and parenting time allowances.
  • Parenting coordinators can also report suspected child abuse or negligence to the correct parties, help to make decisions about when and how the family and friends of the non-custodial parent are permitted to see children, and even help make small changes to visitation orders.

If you have any concerns or questions about the issues raised above, please reach out to us at your earliest convenience. I am available to discuss your issues with you during an initial consultation, up to the first thirty minutes is free. You can contact us to arrange this initial appointment over our online contact form, or by calling us on 516-333-6555.

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