Mediation is one way New Jersey parents can resolve their custody and parenting time disputes.
Mediation is an option
Mediation is a way New Jersey parents can talk about and come up with an agreeable parenting plan without going to court.
While the trained mediator will help the parents come to agreements and deal with any conflicts, ultimately, it is the parents’ choice whether to enter into an agreement. If they do not, they are free to go on to court and have a judge make their decision.
Hiring a parenting coordinator can work for high-conflict situations
Unfortunately, whether because of domestic violence or just because of a tumultuous relationship, mediation may not be the best solution.
A parenting coordinator is a qualified expert, like a counselor, whom a court will appoint to oversee a custody and parenting plan.
The judge will enter an order appointing the parenting coordinator whether because the parents agree to it or because the court feels that it is a good idea. The parenting coordinator must follow the terms of the court order exactly and may not exceed his or her authority.
Working within the terms of that order, the parenting coordinator will work with the parents on an ongoing basis to help them communicate and come to agreements.
They are also allowed to make recommendations, particularly on small or urgent issues that wouldn’t involve a change of the custody order. However, the judge remains ultimately in charge of the case.
A parenting coordinator also has the right, and responsibility, to report back to the court from time to time and make suggestions as to how the judge should handle the custody case.
Still, having a parenting coordinator can help parents in a high-conflict situation stay out of the courtroom, thus saving time and expense.
There may be other ways in which a couple can iron out a difficult custody dispute without dragging their children through an ugly courtroom battle.
For instance, the couple may agree to attend family counseling or may agree that court can appoint an official, often called a custody evaluator or guardian ad litem, to review the situation and make a report and recommendation to the court.
While these options might not prevent a contested custody case, they may at least minimize the conflict between the parents.
These and other options can be discussed with an experienced child custody attorney.