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Parenting Coordination in North Carolina

Guest feature by David J. Irvine, Jr. 

The goal of a custody order is to define the co-parenting relationship between separated or divorced parents. The order should specify the custodial schedule and define the rights and responsibilities of each parent. Unfortunately, a custody order cannot address every issue and question that may arise. Parents who are still experiencing conflict even after the entry of a custody order may benefit from a Parenting Coordinator.

What is a Parenting Coordinator? 

The Parenting Coordinator (PC) role is defined in the North Carolina statutes (N.C.G.S. 50-90, et seq.). The statutes allow a judge to appoint a PC in “high conflict” custody cases, or in cases where the parties and their attorneys agree to the appointment of a PC. The PC cannot modify a custody order. Rather, he or she helps the parents implement their custody order. For instance, suppose a custody order provides that Dad’s visitation begins every other Friday when the children are released from school. Is it permissible for Dad’s new wife to pick up the children at school? The Mother hates the idea and says that the custody order does not authorize new wife to pick up the children. Dad says that the order is silent on that point and Mom cannot micro manage his time with the children. Without a PC, these people may have a nasty confrontation at the school, and they may end up in court dealing with contempt charges. However, the PC can work with the parents to resolve this issue without the stress, time and expense of a court appearance.

What are the qualifications for Parenting Coordinators?

PCs are appointed by the Court by Court Order.  In North Carolina, PCs are required to have an advanced degree with related experience and education. Most PCs are lawyers, psychologists or social workers, and PCs must hold a current license in his or her area of practice. Although not required, it is especially helpful if the PC has experience as a certified Mediator. PCs must participate in 24 hours of training in topics related to child development, dynamics of high-conflict families, the effects of divorce and problem-solving techniques such as mediation. In order to remain eligible as a PC, the person must attend parenting coordination seminars and participate in other continuing education.

Why should I consider using one?

The goal of Parenting Coordination is not merely to have a less expensive, more accessible substitute for a judge. The goal is for the parents to learn to co-parent without the need for intervention by the court or a PC. The goal is to raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. If your child custody arrangement is difficult and stressful, using a PC might be right for you.

David J. Irvine, Jr. is a NC Parenting Coordinator, Family Law Attorney and Certified Family Financial Mediator. He is an owner of the Irvine Law Firm, PLLC, 413 West Main Street, Williamston, N.C. 27892.  Phone: (252) 809-4930. E-mail: dji@irvinelawfirm.com © 2016.

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