A Parenting Consultant (PC) has similar functions as a Parenting Time Expeditor (which we discussed in a previous post). Parenting Consultants however, are not authorized by Minnesota Statute and are created solely on the basis of a contract. Since there is no statutory authority for appointment of a parenting consultant, you cannot be court ordered to have one assigned to your case. Parenting consultants can only be court ordered by the agreement of both parties.
Since a parenting consultant is created by contract, they essentially can be appointed for whatever purpose that they are needed for. Often time a parenting consultant is appointed with the same enumerated powers that a parenting time expeditor has but in addition they are granted the authority to make permanent schedule changes. One situation where having a parenting consultant in place to increase or decrease parenting time could be where a parent has issues with chemical dependency. A parenting consultant can assist the parties in monitoring sobriety and increase parenting time if sobriety continues, or decrease time if there is a relapse. Another example where a parenting consultant that has authority to increase time can be beneficial is with young children. Parents may agree that a limited parenting time schedule is appropriate when their child is an infant. However, a schedule for a 3 month old baby is not appropriate once the child gets older. A parenting consultant can assist parents in increasing parenting time if they do not agree.
Parenting consultants may also be given the authority to decide legal custody decisions when joint legal custodians cannot agree. This can be helpful if you are struggling with school choice for your children, or if you cannot agree on whether or not your child needs to get braces. A parenting consultant may also be of value in deciding which extra-curricular activities that children participate in, and who pays for them.
Even though the issues decided by parenting consultants could be simply brought before the court in a motion, there are many advantage of using a parenting consultant versus going through the traditional court route. Depending on the county that your case is venued in, motion hearing dates could be booked out as much as three months. Even when you do get to your hearing date, your judicial officer statutorily has 90 days before they have to issue a decision. You could be waiting more than 6 months to get your dispute resolved. Judicial officers are limited in the amount of evidence that they can consider. They can’t simply call up witnesses, teachers, or counselors and talk to them on the telephone whereas a parenting consultant can.
If you think that your case would benefit from having a parenting consultant, contact our office for a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We have drafted many parenting consultant contracts and can assist you in choosing what authority to grant the parenting consultant. Our attorneys also have the experience necessary to recommend the right parenting consultant for your case.