Toby Hollander, Esq.
Guardian ad Litem, Parenting Coordinator
112 Ludlow Street, Portland, ME 04103
207.775.0721 phone
207.775.0722  fax
e-mail


 

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THE ROLE OF THE PARENTING COORDINATOR

The role of the GAL

 

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A Parenting Coordinator (PC) is an experienced person who helps families interpret and carry out Court Orders involving their children. The Court cannot anticipate every possible decision and sometimes circumstances change which make existing court orders hard to obey. Parents in conflict often have difficulty making joint decisions. They use a PC to make decisions to avoid beginning a whole new court action, which can take months or years to resolve given todayís crowded Court dockets. The decisions of a Parenting Coordinator are subject to judicial review, but must be obeyed in the meantime.

In 2010, Maine passed a statute providing for the appointment of Parenting Coordinators by the Court at the request of either party or on the Courtís own motion, even if both parties object. The Court must, however, take into account the existence of domestic violence in deciding whether or not a PC would be helpful to the family and must also specify those aspects of a parenting plan (contained in a judgment) that the PC would have authority to address. The Parenting Coordinator is different from the Guardian ad Litem, whose job is to conduct an investigation and make recommendations to the Court as to what the GAL believes is in the best interests of the children. The GAL helps the parties and the Court develop a parenting plan which is then turned into an Order. The primary job of the PC is to interpret the language of the parenting plan for the parents and to make small adjustments when there are disputes or situations that were not anticipated at the time of the final Order. The PC does not investigate or make recommendations to the Court and is only appointed after a judgment is entered. In 2014 the Legislature repealed the statute removing protection against lawsuits for parenting coordinators and removing the right for court review for parents. Thus, today, Parenting Coordination can only occur by agreement of both parents. I continue to do this work, when both parents agree and the Court will sign an order providing for my responsibilities and scope of my duties.

The cost of a Parenting Coordinator is born by the parties and the Court allocates what percentage of the fee each party must pay. This has the effect of shifting the cost of high conflict, intense litigation cases away from the Courts and to the parties who are unable to reach agreements. When agreements are reached, the cost of a PC is understandably much less. While attorneys can still advocate for their clients, often attorneys do not need to participate, so the overall cost of dispute resolution is substantially less. Decisions are also made much more quickly and efficiently than if the parties had to return to Court to resolve their disputes. The typical length of service of a parenting coordinator is for the period of one to two years.