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.
A Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE) may be appointed to your case to deal with disputes over interpretation of your court order. The parenting time expeditor was created by the legislature and has been authorized by Minnesota Statute §518.1751. Since the parenting time expeditor is authorized by Minnesota Statute, you can have a PTE appointed to your case by either agreement or the court can appoint one to your case.
The function of the PTE is to resolve parenting time disputes. They do this by reviewing the existing court order and then making a determination as to what the court order states or if the order is silent regarding the matter, they make the decision. For example, your court order may state that each party has one week of vacation time with the children. The other parent wants to take a week of vacation from Monday through Sunday following their weekend parenting time. This would give that parent a 10 day vacation not one 7 day week vacation. It also may cause one parent to not see the children for a significant period of time. This dispute could be submitted to a PTE to make the decision as to whether the court order allows for 7 day weeks or 10 day weeks. If the order is silent, the PTE will then issue an order stating what the vacation terms are.
Parenting time expeditors can also be used to make determinations regarding whether or not the court order has been violated. An example of this situation might be if your court order stated that you were supposed to have the children for the 4th of July holiday but the other parent took the children on vacation that week and did not let you have your holiday time. Or if the children’s other parent simply told you that you couldn’t have the children a particular weekend because they had something else planned. The PTE would have the authority to decide if the parenting time had been wrongfully withheld and if so, they would have the authority to grant compensatory parenting time, or to give you the 4th of July holiday the following year.
Parenting time expeditors are also helpful to have assigned to your case to deal with unexpected situations. PTE’s do not have the authority to change your parenting time schedule outright, but they do have the authority to authorize additional parenting time on a case by case basis. An example of this situation may be that your parents want to take your entire family on a Disney cruise during spring break. Your court order may not address spring break as a holiday, or may not allow you to take your vacation time with the children for any months other than the summer months. The PTE would be authorized to allow you to take the children for additional parenting time if the circumstances merit it.
If you think that your case would benefit from having a parenting time expeditor appointed, contact our office for a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. We have successfully handled many contested motions for appointment of a parenting time expeditor. Our attorneys also have the experience necessary to recommend the right parenting time expeditor for your case.