Prior to taking a divorce case to trial, the level of conflict between a couple may be so intense that the parties are incapable of implementing a parenting plan. The obvious signs of a highly contested divorce include problems like:
Engaging in a contested divorce may impede the parents’ ability to make decisions in the best interests of their children. In such circumstances, it often becomes necessary to consult experts to evaluate and assist the court in determining equitable child custody, parenting time or child support. Some experts that may be used in such a situation are:
Parenting Coordinators are professionals that help parents negotiate future conflicts following divorce. Parenting Coordinators may teach the parents to make decisions together while reducing conflict over mutual concerns that can be addressed. By helping both parties to resolve their issues, parenting coordinators help reduce the caseload on court dockets. They can assist in reducing or eliminating the need for hearings and court appearances which burden an already overburdened court system. By helping both parties resolve issues in a highly contentious divorce proceeding, these coordinators reduce the hours that attorneys spend negotiating agreements with opposing counsel and this results in a significant cost saving for both parties. Having an unbiased 3rd party is often beneficial for parents when issues arise regarding changes to parenting plans, schools, relocation issues, etc.
It is rare but on occasion a court-appointed advisor is involved in a custody proceeding if serious allegations of parental unfitness such as substance abuse, domestic violence or mental instability are made by either side.
Guardian Ad Litem
Occasionally a court may find both parties in a divorce as unfit parents due to substance abuse, allegations of domestic abuse or mental infirmity. In such a situation, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child or children in court.
Occasionally judges may communicate directly with a child if the child is of a certain age. Although it is permitted under Arizona family law, most judges prefer to rely on alternative methods to determine custody such as a child interview by a qualified counselor or social worker. These types of experts are generally necessary for contested child custody matters but they can also be beneficial for parents who have disagreements in allocation of parenting responsibilities. Involving a Parenting Coordinator in such a situation can be both beneficial and cost efficient. This form of alternate dispute resolution may be essential to protecting the child and resolving the contested custody case.
The Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure clearly outline the role of the Parenting Coordinator in any family law case involving a child. The parenting coordinator helps both parents put their parenting plan into action by assisting in dispute resolution. It is often difficult to navigate child custody laws without the right help. So it is imperative to seek an experienced and competent family law attorney to provide that help and a compassionate understanding for your situation.
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