All too often, disputes regarding custody and parenting time do not end with the final divorce degree or paternity order. When parenting disputes arise regarding legal custody decisions, parenting time issues or even modifications, there are options available to parties outside of the court room. In addition to mediation, a court may order the appointment of a parenting specialist such as a parenting consultant.
A parenting consultant is a neutral party whose role it is to assist parents in divorce, paternity or legal separation matters with their parenting issues. The parenting consultant often fills the role of a child development specialist who may be called on when disputes occur between parents to mediate the disputed issue and to provide insight into parenting decisions and their impact on children.
A parenting consultant may be agreed upon by both parents, either as part of a legal case or after it has been concluded. It is important to note that a parenting consultant cannot make decisions for the parents or to resolve any disputes unless otherwise empowered to do so by a court order. Instead, a parenting consultant provides expert opinion or advice and encourages the parents to resolve their own disputes through dialogue and discussion. When parents are unable or unwilling to agree, the parenting consultant may make recommendations regarding solutions that would benefit the children. As a result, a parenting consultant may testify in any subsequent court proceedings regarding the nature of the parental discussions and provide to the court their opinion on any disputed parenting issue. There is no confidentiality between the parenting consultant and the parties under law.