Parenting Coordination in St. Louis
Very few elements of the court process are more contentious and emotionally exhausting than determining custody rights over a child produced by parties that are no longer together. In Missouri, separating parents are expected to work together in good faith to form a parenting plan that meets the court’s standard regarding the child’s best interests, but unfortunately, in many situations, this is much easier said than done. If the parties are not able to come to an agreement on a parenting plan, the Court will determine a parenting plan for them.
Oftentimes, the parties can work out a parenting plan, but they are unable to come to agreements on the day-to-day decisions, or the ongoing joint legal decisions. When the parties are unable to agree on things on a regular basis and it is not appropriate to award one party sole legal custody, or the parties do not want to risk losing joint legal custody, they can agree to have the Court appoint a Parent Coordinator. Once a Parent Coordinator is appointed by the Court, the parenting plan and the Parent Coordinator Order will determine what the Parent Coordinator may and may not do.
A Parent Coordinator is a neutral third party acting in the children’s best interest who has received special training and certification in high conflict custody matters. Parenting Coordination in St. Louis focuses on helping the parents manage their parenting plan and improving their communication. When the parties are unable to agree, the Parent Coordinator can make the decision if the parties are unable to do so.
What Role Does a Parent Coordinator Play?
Parenting coordination is a relatively new approach to resolving child custody disputes that more and more states are beginning to allow. Currently, a court overseeing a divorce, separation, or other custody dispute in St. Louis may enlist a Parent Coordinator with consent from both parents. If approved, that Coordinator’s purpose would be to enter orders that are in accordance with the parenting plan and as authorized by the Parenting Coordinator Order.
In practice, the Parent Coordinator often functions similarly to a mediator or arbitrator. If you and your ex come to an agreement, the Parent Coordinator can help draft a legally binding plan for both parties to sign, potentially allowing you to avoid additional drawn-out court litigation entirely.
Unlike a mediator, though, the Parent Coordinator has the authority to establish a legally binding final order on their own if you cannot work together and settle on a mutually agreeable decision. A St. Louis attorney can explain in more detail what the Parenting Coordination’s responsibilities might entail in your specific case.
What Issues Can Parenting Coordination Help Address?
To some extent, a Parent Coordinator’s job is not only to protect the child or children of two separating parents, but to also teach parents how to communicate and solve problems in healthier and more productive ways. If the parties are not able to agree, a St. Louis Parent Coordinator can enter orders determining that issue after a hearing and notice to the parties. Examples of some decisions include vacation dates, extracurricular activities, phone calls, scheduling conflicts, or medical disputes.
Parenting Coordination can also provide for a much quicker resolution of disputes than can be obtained from Court. As a legal ally in St. Louis could affirm, though, Parent Coordinators cannot provide legal advice or counseling, oversee supervised visitation, or change custody.
Let a St. Louis Parenting Coordination Lawyer Help
Like other forms of alternative dispute resolution, Parenting Coordination in St. Louis requires good-faith effort and commitment from both parties, and it does not guarantee a perfect resolution for either party. However, it can be a means for parents who strongly disagree with each other about custody matters or legal issues to avoid ongoing litigation and maintain some joint legal custody.
A family law ally could offer invaluable guidance and support throughout this entire process. Learn more by calling our firm today.