Working with families during difficult circumstances is par for the course for any child custody attorney. Part of an Oregon attorney’s job in cases that involve child custody is helping clients to develop a framework within which they can work to parent their children following a change in the family structure. This is called a parenting plan.
Parenting plans come in all shapes and sizes depending on the needs and desires of a particular family. They can be very open-ended, leaving all discretion to the parties in working out visitation and delegation of parental decision-making and responsibilities. Parenting plans can also be extremely detailed, laying out a course of action for any contingency the parties or the attorney can think of.
Either way, even with a detailed plan in place, many parents continue to experience conflict when interacting with each other or making decisions regarding their children. This can lead to potentially endless litigation, wasting valuable financial resources and maintaining the adversarial nature of parents’ relationship, which can be extremely harmful to children.
In situations where it is clear that parents will continue to have ongoing conflict regarding their children, it is sometimes advisable to ask the court to appoint a parenting coordinator. Parenting coordinators are neutral third parties and can be lawyers, social workers, mediators, or psychologists. Their primary role is to help parents resolve their conflicts without having to go to court, which can save time, money and further animosity between the parties.
The legal authority to appoint a parenting coordinator comes from Oregon Revised Statute 107.425(3), which provides, in part:
(3)(a) In addition to an investigation, examination or evaluation under subsections (1) and (2) of this section, the court may appoint an individual or a panel or may designate a program to assist the court in creating parenting plans or resolving disputes regarding parenting time and to assist parents in creating and implementing parenting plans. The services provided to the court and to parents under this section may include:
(A) Gathering information;
(B) Monitoring compliance with court orders;
(C) Providing the parents, their attorneys, if any, and the court with recommendations for new or modified parenting time provisions; and
(D) Providing parents with problem solving, conflict management and parenting time coordination services or other services approved by the court.
Parenting coordinators are not the ideal solution for everyone – parenting coordination services can become expensive, especially if their services are frequently needed. Still, they can be less expensive than hiring an attorney and brining the matter back to court. To determine whether a parenting coordinator would be appropriate in your case, contact an Oregon family law attorney as soon as possible.