These Are the People in Your Neighborhood – MN Family Lawyers
March 27, 2009
Child Custody and the People You Will Meet
When you are facing a tough custody battle, either as part of a divorce or not, there are many professionals who may be assigned, appointed, or hired to help you and the other parent figure out what is in the best interest for your children. The following is a brief overview of some of the professionals who may be involved. Every case is distinct, and there are many factors that go into whether a particular professional may or even can be involved in your case.
Guardian ad Litem
If the court is concerned about the children based on some allegations of abuse or some other serious factor, it may order a Guardian ad Litem be appointed. A Guardian ad Litem is someone who works for the county government and is trained to interview, observe, communicate, and make recommendations about the best interest of the children in a case. They are the ones who speak for the children, and have a lot of influence in how the case will be viewed by the court.
There are many professionals that may be hired as a custody evaluator to help the parties and the court determine the best custody arrangement for the children. These are often private practice attorneys or psychologists with an expertise in this field. However, Hennepin County Family Court offers an Early Neutral Evaluation program that is a free service ordered early on in a case to help the parties attempt to work out their differences in a setting similar to a full evaluation. If parties do not come to an agreement at the end of this process, however, the next step may be to hire a private Custody Evaluator.
Parenting Time Expeditor
The court may order a parenting time expeditor be appointed to help the parties with their parenting time plan or unforeseen circumstances not addressed by earlier agreement. An expeditor is empowered by the court to make decisions on behalf of the court. The cost of the expeditor is paid for by the parties.
Parenting Time Consultant
The parties themselves outside of the court may make an agreement to hire a parenting time consultant (although this agreement can be memorialized in a settlement agreement put on the record with the court). A consultant does not have the legal authority of an expeditor, but is generally given more free rein to deal with the broader scope of situations that may arise in parenting and custody disputes.
Emily M. Matson, Esq.
Moore Family Law, P.A.
3350 Annapolis Lane North, Suite C