Few issues lead to more conflict (or legal fees) than fights over child custody or parenting arrangements.
Unfortunately, courts are poorly equipped to adjudicate parenting schedules. Where child issues are contested, therefore, the courts commonly appoint an investigator or evaluator called a guardian ad litem. Attorney Clark believes that there is little to gain by fighting over children. Such contests not only drain parents’ financial and emotional resources, but also leave lingering resentment that can impair parents’ ability to work together in the future as well as damage children’s relationships with their parents.
Organizing parents’ time with the children, resolving vacation conflicts, accommodating children’s activities, and making decisions regarding children’s education, health care, and religious upbringing all require functional communication between parents. Where parents are unable to resolve conflicts on their own, the parents can appoint a specialized arbitrator as parenting coordinator. Before resorting to such measures, however, agreements can be set up so that parents can structure their communications and interactions in a way that avoids conflict and (hopefully) fosters constructive problem solving.
The courts are guided, of course, by a prime directive: Children are entitled to meaningful relationships with both parents, even after their parents’ marriage has ended, and wherever possible, a parent is entitled to meaningful time with his or her children, provided that this time can be made safe and sane.