A previous post on this blog talked about the role a guardian ad litem plays in California child custody case. To review, the guardian ad litem serves as a child’s advocate during the course of a court proceeding and is there to make sure the child’s voice gets heard during the case.
A newer trend in family law involves the use of professionals called parenting coordinators. A parenting coordinator is a bit different from a guardian ad litem in that he or she does not represent the interests of the child at all but rather acts as a facilitator for the parents in reaching decisions about their children.
However, a parenting coordinator is not the same as a mediator, as they will usually continue to have a role even after the court case is concluded. Moreover, most parenting coordinators make recommendations to the judge, and some may have limited power to make minor decisions about custody.
Courts most often use parenting coordinators when a couple’s relationship is wrought with tension and conflict, and the couple does not have enough of a relationship to communicate effectively with each other about even some very basic custody and parenting time issues. In other cases, such as during a custody modification, it may become apparent that the relationship between two parents has deteriorated, and they now need assistance with their communication.
Although parenting coordinators are expensive, they also can provide the invaluable service of getting two parents enough on the same page so that they can make most child custody and parenting time decisions on their own.
Parents in the Bay Area who feel hiring a parenting coordinator might be the right approach to their case should speak with a family law attorney about their legal options.