What is a Parent Coordinator in a New York Custody Case?

November 12, 2023
Louis Sternberg

Parent Coordination in New York High Conflict Cases

A parent coordinator in a New York custody case is a professional who is appointed by the court to help parents resolve disputes and make decisions regarding the care and well-being of their children. Parent coordinators are typically used in high-conflict custody cases where parents have difficulty communicating and making decisions together.

High Conflict Custody Cases in New York

A high-conflict custody case is a legal dispute between parents or guardians of a child that is characterized by intense disagreements, hostility, and ongoing conflict regarding the child’s custody, visitation, and parenting decisions. These cases can be emotionally charged, protracted, and often require court intervention to resolve. Several key characteristics and factors often define high-conflict custody cases:

  1. Frequent disputes: In high-conflict cases, parents frequently disagree on various aspects of child custody, such as visitation schedules, decision-making authority, and parenting responsibilities. These disputes may be related to day-to-day matters or more significant life events.
  2. Communication breakdown: Parents in high-conflict cases often struggle to communicate effectively with each other. This breakdown in communication can lead to misunderstandings, mistrust, and escalations of conflict.
  3. Emotional intensity: Emotions run high in high-conflict custody cases. Both parents may experience anger, resentment, fear, or mistrust, making it challenging to find common ground and work together for the benefit of the child.
  4. Multiple court appearances: High-conflict cases typically require multiple court hearings and legal proceedings to address ongoing disputes and ensure that the best interests of the child are being considered.
  5. Involvement of professionals: The court may involve various professionals to assess the situation and make recommendations, such as child custody evaluators, mental health experts, and parent coordinators, to help manage and resolve the conflict.
  6. Allegations of misconduct: In some high-conflict cases, one or both parents may make allegations of abuse, neglect, or other misconduct against the other parent. These allegations can further escalate the conflict and lead to investigations.
  7. Impact on the child: High-conflict custody cases can have a significant emotional and psychological impact on the child involved. The constant tension and exposure to parental conflict can lead to stress, anxiety, and long-term emotional issues for the child.
  8. Need for court intervention: Given the ongoing disputes and inability to reach agreements, the court often plays a central role in determining custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making authority in high-conflict cases.
  9. High legal costs: The extended legal proceedings, including court appearances and attorney fees, can make high-conflict custody cases financially burdensome for both parties involved.
  10. Long-term consequences: High-conflict custody cases can result in prolonged legal battles, with consequences that may affect the child’s upbringing and the relationships between the child and both parents.

What is the Role of a Parent Coordinator?

The role of a parent coordinator can vary depending on the specific court order and the needs of the parents and children involved, but some common responsibilities may include:

  1. Facilitating communication: Parent coordinators work to improve communication between parents, helping them to exchange information and work together more effectively.
  2. Mediating disputes: They assist parents in resolving disagreements related to child custody, visitation, and other parenting issues. They can mediate discussions and help parents reach mutually acceptable agreements.
  3. Implementing court orders: Parent coordinators can help enforce court-ordered parenting plans and ensure that both parents are adhering to the terms of the custody arrangement.
  4. Making recommendations: In some cases, a parent coordinator may make recommendations to the court regarding specific issues related to child custody or visitation. These recommendations are typically based on their observations and assessments of the situation.
  5. Providing education and support: Parent coordinators may also offer guidance and support to parents, helping them develop better parenting skills and strategies for co-parenting effectively.

Who May Serve as a Parent Coordinator in New York?

It’s important to note that the specific role and authority of a parent coordinator can vary from case to case, and their actions are typically guided by the stipulation that appoints them. Parent coordinators are typically trained professionals, such as psychologists, social workers, or attorneys, who have expertise in child custody and family law matters.

Parent Coordination in a Suffolk County Custody Case

Parent Coordination is not frequently used in Suffolk County custody litigation although it is not unheard of for a Parent Coordinator to be appointed, depending on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. For more information on Parent Coordination, Forbes has an excellent article.

If you are involved in a custody case in New York and are considering the use of a parent coordinator, it’s important to consult with an attorney who can provide you with guidance and information about how this process works in your specific situation.