Judges in family court cases appoint PCs to assist parents in high-conflict divorces to communicate better and make decisions which are in the best interest of their children and best promote their growth and development. PCs are authorized to make decisions when the parties cannot agree on important issues affecting their children, subject to review by the court. The PC’s goal is to help the parents understand that they are on the “same team” when it comes to their children, not on opposite sides of the field trying to score points against the other.
Because family courts are typically clogged, and getting before the judge may take many months even to address simple issues, a PC can serve as the judge’s “eyes and ears” on the ground, and can address issues between parents quickly and efficiently as they arise. For example, if the parents disagree about how vacation time is to be selected or divided, and the issue is not clearly addressed by the custody order, the PC can resolve the issue without the need for the parties to return to court. Similarly, if there are issues regarding when, how, or where children should be exchanged between the two households, or the involvement of therapists in the children’s lives, the PC is often authorized to decide those issues without burdening the court. For these reasons, the involvement of a PC can save both parents significant time, money, and aggravation.
Finally, a PC will often monitor and regulate communication between the parents, making sure that each parent treats the other respectfully. A PC will ensure that abusive telephone, text, or e-mail communications between parents no longer occur and that one parent does not deluge the other with needless, incessant communication about the children and/or the other parent’s parenting style. A PC will often create rules at the outset of his/her engagement on when and how the parents may communicate with one another and topics that are “off limits” for discussion.
The ultimate goal of the PC process is for the PC to put himself/herself out of a job by enabling the parents to communicate effectively and make decisions which are in their children’s best interest, so that they no longer need the guardrails of the PC process. Though it may take months or years for that to occur—if it ever does—the PC process is most successful when the parents’ reliance on the PC steadily decreases and eventually disappears.