Parenting Coordination – Helping Families in High Conflict Custody Cases
The Supreme Court Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee adopted new rules regarding parenting coordination that went into effect on March 1, 2019. Parenting coordination is a conflict-resolution process that helps families implement and comply with custody orders in order to reduce custody-related litigation.

Which Cases Need Parenting Coordinators?
Where parties in a custody case have frequent disagreements that are constantly being brought before the court, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator. These are high conflict cases where parties are constantly disagreeing on non-emergency issues and then seeking court intervention.

What Will the Parenting Coordinator Do?
The parenting coordinator will work with the parties to try to reach a resolution on the non-emergent issues. If the parenting coordinator is unable to get the parties to agree on how to resolve an issue, the parenting coordinator is given the authority to make his or her own decision on how to resolve the issue, thereby reducing the need for parties to litigate these matters in court.

What is the Benefit of a Parenting Coordinator?
The benefit to the parenting coordinator is speed and cost. The parenting coordinator can resolve and/or render a decision to resolve a custody dispute faster than if the matter had to be litigated in court. This in turn reduces the cost of having an attorney present to represent the parties during a hearing before the judge.

Are there Specific Issues that the Parenting Coordinator Can Decide?
The parenting coordinator can attempt to resolve parenting issues that include, but are not limited to:

  • Places and conditions for custodial transitions between households
  • Temporary variation from the custodial schedule for a special event or particular circumstance
  • School issues, apart from school selection
  • Children’s participation in recreation, enrichment, and extracurricular activities, including travel
  • Child care arrangements
  • Clothing, equipment, toys, and personal possessions of the children
  • Information exchanges between the parties and communication with or about the children
  • Coordination of existing or court-ordered services for the children, such as psychological services
  • Behavioral management of the children
  • Any other related custody issues that the parties mutually have agreed in writing to submit to the parenting coordinator, except for those that are specifically excluded from the parenting coordinator’s scope of authority

Which Issues are Outside of the Parenting Coordinator’s Scope of Authority?
  • The parenting coordinator is unable to decide the following:
  • A change in legal custody as set forth in the custody order
  • A change in primary physical custody as set forth in the custody order
  • A change in the court-ordered custody schedule that reduces or expands the children’s time with a party, except for temporary changes due to events
  • A change in residence of the children (i.e. relocation)
  • Financial issues, other than the allocation of the parenting coordinator’s fees
  • Major decisions affecting the health, education, or religion of the children
  • And any other issues limited by the appointing judge

Are Conversations with the Parenting Coordinator Kept Confidential?
No. Communication between the parties or the parties’ attorneys and the parenting coordinator are not kept confidential. Also, any information that is provided by one party to the parenting coordinator, must be made available for the other party for inspection and copying.

If you recently had a parenting coordinator appointed to your case, or have additional questions, please contact the Law Offices of Peter J. Russo, P.C. to speak to one of our family law attorneys.

Spring Break Considerations for Parenting Agreements
As Spring Break approaches, divorced or divorcing parents may wonder about how their vacation plans may be affected. Fortunately, parents can devise their own parenting agreements through negotiations between their lawyers or the mediation process. Once completed, these agreements can then be submitted to the court for incorporation in the custody agreement. Some things to consider for this portion of your parenting agreement include:

Vacation Time Designation
Parents will need to consider how much time they each will have for vacation. They have flexibility in coming up with these terms. For example, some parents may be given specific dates each year when they can take vacation, such as alternating Spring Breaks. Others may have a certain number of days throughout the year during which time they can take vacation. Parents may also need to consider if there should be makeup visitation if one parent loses their regular time while the child is away on vacation.

Right to Notice
Parents may want to include a provision that requires the other parent to notify them before they take their child out of the state or on a vacation that lasts longer than three days. They can require the parent to provide an address and phone number where the child can be reached during this time.

International Travel
Parents may require that they approve any international travel before it is taken. They should both be part of the process of obtaining a passport.

Parents may agree that the vacationing parent may be responsible for all travel-related costs or that the costs will be split between the parents in a way they determine is fair.
Work Life Balance
4 Great Ways Employers Encourage Work/Life Balance
Employers who are invested in their staff’s wellbeing and want to attract talented professionals are increasingly using methods that encourage work/life balance, including:

Flex Hours
Many businesses are doing away with the traditional 9-5 model and instead are allowing employees to choose their own hours. This has the advantage of allowing employees to work when they are most productive and around other obligations so that they do not need to take as much time off work.

Social Activities
Some companies are encouraging social activities between staff like movie nights, company sports teams, after-work dinners and team-building exercises. These activities help employees feel more at home and encourage teamwork.

Provide Mobile Technology
Many companies provide employees with laptops, tablets and phones that they can use to complete their work no matter where they are.

Co-Working Spaces
When planning your office space, consider adding co-working spaces that encourage collaboration. However, be sure that you also include private spaces for client calls and other activities that require quiet.
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Surprising but True Funny Court Cases
A young man had surgery to correct a scar on his hand. The surgeon grafted skin from the man’s chest and used it on his hand. However, the man’s chest was hairy, so the new portion of hand was now hairy, too. The man sued the surgeon. The court awarded the man the difference in value between a 100% good hand and a hairy hand.

A man tried to get out of a speeding ticket by explaining to the judge that he was not aware he was speeding because he was wearing a new, stiff pair of shoes. Another man accused of the same infraction tried to excuse his behavior by explaining that he and his wife were trying to have a baby and the wife was ovulating at the time.

An exotic dancer who pleaded guilty to a drug charge was ordered to wear an ankle monitor. A few days later, the woman returned to the courtroom to ask for an exception not to wear the monitor because it was “ruining her vibe.” The judge denied her motion and advised her to “bedazzle” the ankle monitor to match her outfits.
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