Ashley E. Bloch, Esquire and Cortney E. Whitehouse, Esquire, Bloch & Whitehouse, P.A., 8120 Penn Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota, 55431, (952) 224-9977, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.mndivorcefamilylaw.com.
Despite the best efforts of Minnesota courts to create parenting time orders that are comprehensive and clear, parenting time disputes inevitably arise. Sometimes, the dispute is relatively minor, and addressing it by going to court seems excessive. Other times, the matter is so urgent that you can’t wait for a court hearing to resolve it. For circumstances like these, Minnesota has created the role of parenting time expeditor.
What is a Parenting Time Expeditor?
A parenting time expeditor is a neutral party who helps when you and your child’s other parent can’t resolve a parenting time dispute on your own. A sampling of disputes for which you might call on a parenting time expeditor includes:
- The other parent is denying or interfering with your parenting time;
- Whether there should be “make up” parenting time due to parenting time that was missed or denied;
- You anticipate that the other party is going to deny you future scheduled parenting time;
- The other parent is not spending scheduled parenting time with the children.
A parenting time expeditor is appointed by the court, either on the court’s own motion or at your request, that of your child’s other parent, or both. Generally speaking, parenting time expeditors must undergo at least 40 hours of family mediation training as well as training regarding domestic abuse issues.
The job of the parenting time expeditor is to enforce, interpret, and clarify your parenting time order to resolve disputes, as well as to deal with circumstances your existing parenting time order doesn’t specifically address. Depending on the nature of your case, the parenting time expeditor may be appointed to resolve a single issue, or work with you on an ongoing basis to resolve various issues that may arise. The parenting time expeditor may be appointed during or after your divorce, depending on your need.
How Does the Process Work?
A parenting time expeditor meets with you and the other parent within five days of being appointed or notified of your dispute. He or she may meet with you separately or together to understand and try to resolve your issue. If needed, the conference may even take place by telephone. There are fees for the parenting time expeditor’s services; the court divides these between you and the other parent in a way that is equitable (but not necessarily equal).
The expeditor first tries, in a neutral way, to help you resolve the dispute and reach agreement on the issue. If that doesn’t work, he or she will gather all the information needed to make a decision resolving the issue, and then issue that decision within five days.
One important note: your parenting time expeditor will interpret your parenting time order, but cannot make a decision that conflicts with it, unless you and the other parent explicitly agree to such a decision.
What are the Advantages of Having a Parenting Time Expeditor?
In addition to getting issues resolved more quickly, a parenting time expeditor can also save parents money. For disputes resolved by an expeditor, the expense of hiring an attorney to prepare and file a motion, then argue it in court, is eliminated.
Parenting time expeditors also help preserve your privacy. Rather than having your lawyer argue about your conflict in open court, you discuss the matter privately with the parenting time expeditor. The final decision becomes part of the court record, but the discussion and analysis of the information presented are not disclosed.
Last but not least, the quick turnaround time for the resolution of your dispute reduces stress: the stress of escalating conflict as well as the stress of waiting for your court date, then possibly waiting for a judge to render a decision.
If you would like to learn more about the specifics of using a parenting time expeditor, or whether a parenting time expeditor could be helpful in your situation, we invite you to contact us at (952)224-9977 to schedule a consultation.