As defined by statue, this neutral investigates and makes detailed recommendations to the Court regarding custody and parenting time. The appointment is made by judicial order with or without the consent of the parents.
This is a detailed document that defines parenting time access, designates decision-making responsibilities, and a provides for a method of dispute resolution. It usually includes additional issues relevant to the child’s life and future.
A parenting consultant (PC) facilitates and makes binding decisions regarding any parenting issue in addition to parenting time and access issues.
A parenting time expeditor (PTE) enforces, interprets, clarifies, and addresses disagreements based on the Court’s existing order. Duties are limited to parenting time schedule and access issues.
The scope of the PTE duties is very limited. The Court may appoint a PTE without that consent. A PC, however, may be appointed only with the consent of both parents.
In this variant, the PC assists parents in resolving disputes regarding minor children but only during the intervening period between separation and decree. It is a short-term, finite commitment to protect children from domestic turmoil during the divorce proceedings. The PC's appointment ends with the filing of a custody agreement.
A PC is appointed by the Court with the consent of the parents, pursuant to Rule 113.02(a)(10).
In short, no.
In this context Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a hybrid decision-making process using a combination of education, mediation, and arbitration. A PC and PTE are both Rule 114 neutrals who use an ADR process.
This is a contractual agreement that allows a neutral to keep confidential the information received from a child’s therapist. It protects privacy of the therapeutic relationship.
A GAL advocates for the best interest of the child, providing a report and recommendations directly to the Court based on an independent investigation. The GAL may appointed without the consent of the parents and is mandated in cases of alleged abuse.
Mediators assist parents to address and resolve custody issues in a confidential, non-binding negotiation. The mediator has no decision-making authority.
Mediation is confidential unless everyone specifically agrees otherwise. Generally there is no confidentiality in the custody evaluation process or with a PC or PTE.
Fees are generally allocated between the parents in the court order setting out the services. However, the rates for PC, PTE, and mediation are set by the service provider in a contractual agreement. Privately engaged GAL and custody evaluation fees are also set by the provider.
Abuse and neglect allegations are handled through a county-run system which includes a number of highly-specialized units such as intake, screening, and field investigation. Maltreatment findings are often resolved without the family going to court. Relatively few reports progress to a CHIPS (child in need of protection or services) proceeding.