DuPage County Parenting Coordinator Lawyers
Understanding the Role of Parenting Coordinators
When family courts put child custody orders in place, parents are expected to carry out the terms of these orders and work together to meet their children's needs. However, these cases often involve some level of conflict between parents, and when disagreements arise, additional legal action may be required to resolve disputes. However, the legal process can be complicated and time-consuming, and handling matters in court may end up causing significant stress for parents and children. In some situations, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator to help parents address these issues and put workable solutions in place that will allow them to co-parent their children effectively.
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in family law matters. We regularly work with parents to negotiate child custody agreements or resolve disputes through litigation, and members of our team have served as guardians ad litem and child's representatives. We can serve as parenting coordinators, or we can help our clients determine the best approach to take as they work to resolve disputes related to their children. Our goal is to find solutions that will protect children's best interests while preserving important parent/child relationships.
The Illinois Supreme Court's Rule on Parenting Coordinators
In May 2023, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 909, which establishes procedures for the use of parenting coordinators in family law cases. While individual circuit courts may put their own rules and procedures in place, they will be required to follow the guidelines established by Rule 909.
A parenting coordinator is a licensed professional who is appointed by the court to help parents resolve certain types of child custody disputes. Parenting coordinators may be psychologists or other mental health professionals with training in resolving disputes between separated parents, or they may be family law attorneys who have received training on how to address the needs and best interests of children in these types of cases.
When Will a Parenting Coordinator Be Appointed?
The court may appoint a parenting coordinator if there is already a temporary or permanent parenting plan in place, but the parents have encountered repeated disputes over some minor parenting issues. This may be an appropriate solution in cases where parents have struggled to communicate with each other about child-related issues, if one or both parties have failed to follow their existing parenting plan or parenting time schedule, if the parents have attempted to resolve disputes through mediation but have been unsuccessful, or if there are other reasons that the court believes a parenting coordinator should be appointed. Parents can also agree to use a parenting coordinator to resolve certain types of disputes in their case.
Duties of a Parenting Coordinator
The parenting coordinator may take steps to ensure that parents fully understand the terms of their parenting agreement and the steps they must follow to comply with the court's orders. They may work to help parents communicate with each other more effectively, establish priorities, avoid misunderstandings, and determine how they can compromise and collaborate as they work together to raise their children. They may help parents better understand the ways they can meet their children's needs as they may child-related decisions. The parenting coordinator will also attempt to resolve disputes between parents in a way that will avoid exposing children to conflict and reduce the need for continued legal proceedings to address these issues.
As they work with the parents to resolve the issues in their case, a parenting coordinator may monitor parents' behaviors and document any instances of non-compliance with child custody orders, mediate disputes between parents, provide the parents with recommendations on resources that may be available to them or guidelines for effective communication, and make recommendations to the court regarding how child custody issues may be resolved.
A parenting coordinator may make recommendations on how to resolve certain specific issues, including:
- Arrangements for picking up, dropping off, or otherwise exchanging children at the beginning and ending of parents' scheduled parenting time.
- Children's participation in extracurricular activities, including how the expenses related to these activities will be divided between parents.
- Minor adjustments to parenting time schedules based on changes to a parent's availability or to children's schedules for school and activities.
- Scheduling of parenting time on holidays or vacations from school.
- Issues related to discipline or behavioral concerns that affect children.
- Issues related to children's health and personal care.
- Other issues specifically assigned to the parenting coordinator by the court.
Recommendations made by a parenting coordinator in these areas must generally be followed by the parents. However, a parent may challenge these recommendations in court if they believe that the decisions would go against the best interests of the children or are outside the scope of the parenting coordinator's duties. A parenting coordinator generally cannot make recommendations on major issues, such as the allocation of parental responsibility, the establishment of a parenting time schedule, parental relocation, visitation rights of grandparents or other extended family members, child support, or divorce-related matters such as spousal maintenance or the division of marital property.
Contact Our DuPage County Child Custody Lawyers
At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC, our experienced family law attorneys can help explain when it may be appropriate for a court to appoint a parenting coordinator and how parents can make sure they are taking the correct steps to resolve disputes while protecting their children's best interests. To learn how we can assist with issues related to child custody, contact us at 630-665-7300 and schedule a free consultation today.