As the coronavirus situation unfolds, the need for parents to come together for the best interest of their children is even greater. Parents who have separated or are divorced and who are trying to navigate the new norm may need help from outside experts to reach agreements. In Texas, we have parenting facilitators and parenting coordinators that can help. The goal of these experts is to help parents reach agreements about parenting decisions without resorting to court. It can be a cost-effective way to co-parent and preserve family relationships.
There are key differences between Parenting Facilitators (PF) and Parenting Coordinators (PC). When used within the context of the court system, PF’s are allowed to testify in court, whereas PC’s are not. Moreover, the attorneys can speak with a PF regarding the sessions, whereas they may be limited in what a PC will discuss with them. This can be a significant difference, depending on the goals of the parents. Using a PF may disincentivize clients to develop skills and settle differences without a judge, but using a PC may not allow the attorneys to assist in settlement efforts beyond the role of the PC. A creative compromise for parties may be to use a PC and sign a release that allows the PC to discuss the sessions with the attorneys but keep the PC out of court.
In light of COVID-19, and based on our years of family law experience, we anticipate a variety of issues to pop up.
- Private school and distance learning – who will make educational decisions? Who will pay for tuitions? Is homeschooling an option? Who will homeschool? Who will provide resources like laptops and iPads?
- Childcare – who will make decisions about daycare? Hiring a nanny or babysitter? How will they be screened? Who will pay for the added costs?
- Visitation schedules – will exchanges have to take place elsewhere? Will schedules have to be modified to accommodate new routines? How will shelter-in-place orders affect visitation? What if a parent is exposed to coronavirus? Do you limit exposure to loved ones? New significant others? What is the plan of action?
- Medical care – what if one of you wants to seek medical treatment but the other doesn’t? What risk and level of exposure are you each willing to accept?
- Special needs – how will this affect co-parenting special needs children or those with learning disabilities?
- …and More.
Rather than blowing things up and creating more emotional and financial stress over these issues, parents can reach out to parenting experts for help. James Esh [https://www.familylawdfw.com/james-v-esh/a] senior attorney at Alexandra Geczi PLLC, is a trained parenting facilitator/parenting coordinator in the State of Texas. James offers virtual sessions and reasonable rates to help parents navigate parenting issues during this stressful time and avoid going to court.