Parenting Consulting / Parenting Time Expeditor

Cases where parents find that they are not able to settle their child-related disputes in mediation, through lawyer-assisted negotiations, or on their own, may benefit from a Parenting Consultant (PC) or Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE).  By engaging such a third-party neutral in your matter and not involving the Court each time a dispute arises, disputes have the potential to be handled in a more dignified, time-efficient and cost-effective manner.  At Stevens Family Law & Mediation, we know that the course of a divorce or separation process is commonly one of heightened anger and conflict, anxiety, and diminished communication.  We also know that even after a divorce, communication between co-parents can remain complicated.  Families with complicated family dynamics or those with high-conflict may benefit from a PC or PTE whose role is to promote the best interests of the children while working toward reducing levels of parental conflict and litigation and the resulting negative impact on children.  

Both the PC and PTE process are designed to help parents implement and comply with their parenting plans, make timely decisions in a manner consistent with children’s development and psychological needs, and reduce the amount of damaging conflict between care-taking adults to which children are exposed.

Is A Parenting Consultant or Parenting Time Expeditor more Appropriate for My Case?  What’s the Difference?

The role of a PC and PTE have many overlapping similarities.  However, there are certain differences between the two that parents should understand in order to be certain they have the appropriate professional with the proper scope of authority addressing the needs of their families. 

Parenting Consultant:

Parenting Consulting is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process in which a mental health or legal professional assists parents in resolving parenting related disputes.  The scope of authority is determined on a case-by-case basis and is set forth in a Court Order Appointing Parenting Consultant.  The overall objective of parenting consulting is to assist high conflict parents or those families with complicated family dynamics to implement their parenting plan, to monitor compliance with the details of the plan, to resolve conflicts regarding their children and the parenting plan in a timely manner, and to protect and sustain safe, healthy and meaningful parent-child relationships.  A PC will help facilitate a negotiation between parents to try to resolve disputes by agreement; however, a PC can also make binding decisions within the scope of the Court’s Order or appointment contract in the event parents are unable to agree.  In order to obtain the appointment of a PC in your case, both parties have to agree to the appointment.  A court cannot independently appoint a PC without the approval of both parties.

The Parenting Consultant (PC) role is most frequently reserved for parents who have demonstrated their longer-term inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions on their own, to comply with parenting agreements and orders, to reduce their child-related conflicts, and to protect their children from the impact of that conflict.  Parenting Consultants, like a Parenting Time Expeditor, have the authority to enforce, interpret, and clarify Court Orders as it relates to parenting time and to address circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing parenting time Order.  A Parenting Consultant differs from a Parenting Time Expeditor in that a PC typically has additional authority to address broader issues which may not specifically relate to parenting time.  Examples include, but are not limited to, monitoring a parent’s compliance with chemical dependency or mental health services; referring a parent or child for additional assessments or evaluations; making a decision about which school a child should attend if parents are unable to agree.  A PC may also work with parents on improving communication and co-parenting skills or developing parenting plans.  Another important distinction between PC and PTE is that parenting consulting is not a confidential process.  Under certain circumstances, a Parenting Consultant may be required to provide information to the Court.

Parenting Time Expeditor:

A Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE) is a neutral person that helps parents resolve parenting time disputes.  A PTE is governed by Minnesota Statute 518.1751 and has the authority to resolve parenting time disputes by enforcing, interpreting, clarifying, and addressing circumstances not specifically addressed by an existing parenting time order and, if appropriate, to make determination as to whether the existing parenting time order has been violated.  

A PTE has a more limited role than a Parenting Consultant and can be appointed in a case over objection of one or more of the parties.  A PTE will attempt to resolve the parenting time dispute by facilitating negotiations between the parties to promote settlement; however, if it becomes apparent that the dispute cannot be resolved by an agreement of the parties, the parenting time expeditor has statutory authority to make a decision resolving the dispute, which becomes binding upon the parties.  

A Parenting Time Expeditor may be ordered in your family law case upon request of either party, the parties’ agreement or upon the Court’s own motion.  Like mediation, the PTE process is a confidential process.  A PTE is not appropriate in all cases.  Because PTE is governed by MN Statute, there are specific requirements and processes involved. 

If you are considering a PTE or PC as a means of resolving your parenting time disputes or to learn more, contact Stevens Family Law & Mediation, PLLC at (952) 856-0518 or to determine which method is best suited for your case.  We look forward to helping you build a better path for your family.