Amaral & Associates, P.C. - Divorce, Family Law

Parenting Coordinator Archives

What Are the Differences Between an ARC Attorney, Guardian ad Litem and Parenting Coordinator?

In high conflict custody cases in Massachusetts, there are many experts that can become involved in your case to help with the conflict and pending issues. The most common experts are Guardians ad Litem, Parenting Coordinators, and ARC Attorneys. However, many parents often confuse these roles. This article will explain what each role is and the difference between these types of experts.

 

 

Guardian ad Litem

A Guardian ad Litem (also known as a GAL) is one of the most common experts in a high conflict custody case. A GAL is typically appointed by the court to investigate the pending issues in the case. A Guardian ad Litem is either a mental health professional that works with divorced or separated families, or a Family Law attorney.

 

Oftentimes, the GAL is asked to investigate the facts of the case and then make recommendations for legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time. A GAL is oftentimes also charged with investigating other issues that arise such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse. Ultimately, the GAL … Read More »



The Legal Status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts- An Update

Parenting coordinator Massachusetts

In 2014 we blogged about the legal status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts. The article was written just after the Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower. However, since that decision came down in September 2014, a lot has changed.

 

For those who do not know what a Parenting Coordinator is, a Parenting Coordinator is a trained attorney or mental health professional who has a background in child custody and parenting time disputes assist parents to resolve and reach agreement concerning disagreements about co-parenting, custody, and the parenting schedule.

 

Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts to facilitate resolving disputes between parents on issues relating children of divorce and children born out of wedlock. The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute. Using Parent Coordinators can be an effective tool in assisting parents in avoiding lengthy litigation in the Probate and Family Court to resolve custody and parenting … Read More »



The Benefits of Engaging a Parenting Coordinator

The Benefits of Engaging a Parenting CoordinatorA Parent Coordinator is a Family Law Attorney or mental health professional who works with families relating to child custody and parenting time, whereby the Parent Coordinator assists parents to resolve and reach agreement concerning disagreements about co-parenting, custody, and the parenting schedule. Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts as a way to resolve disputes without going to court. The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute.

 

Some parents look at Parent Coordinators as someone who is a referee and quasi-judge who decides which parent “wins” or “loses” specific disputes regarding co-parenting. Rather, a parenting coordinator is more like a mediator, who helps both parents work through a dispute and come to a relatively amicable resolution without the need for going back to court. This reduces the time needed to resolve the dispute (since it can be done privately and out of court), and can help preserve the … Read More »



Going Through a Divorce When You Have a Child with Special Needs

specialDivorce is a difficult and emotion process for any spouse or parent. But when the spouse is also a parent of a child with special needs, the divorce can be even more emotional and difficult.

In dealing with any divorce that involves children, issues such as child custody, parenting time, and child support must be addressed. However, when there is a child with special needs, this can be even more complex to handle.

The legal standard for child custody and parenting time is the “best interests of the child”. This is an intentionally vague legal standard, because there are so many different factors that apply to this standard, and they are all unique to each family. When applying this standard to a child with special needs, some of the things that need to be considered are: 1) the child’s diagnosis; 2) the child’s ongoing medical needs; 3) where the child requires extensive hospitalization or repeating medical appointments; 4) what medications does the child require, and do they have to be administered in a special way; and 5) is … Read More »



The Legal Status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts

Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts to facilitate resolving disputes between parents on issues relating children of divorce and children born out of wedlock. The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute. Using Parent Coordinators can be an effective tool in assisting parents in avoiding lengthy litigation in the Probate and Family Court to resolve custody and parenting disputes.

On September 15, 2014, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on a case of first impression relating to Parent Coordinators, in the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower. The issues at hand were whether the Probate and Family Court has authority to appoint a Parent Coordinator over the objection of one parent, and also whether the decision of the Parent Coordinator be binding upon the parents.

The Supreme Judicial Court acknowledged that Parent Coordinators play an important role in resolving disputes between parents. The SJC further stated that the Probate and Family Court can recommend or refer a Parent Coordinator in a specific case, but the authority … Read More »



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