If the parents can’t agree, usually what they’ll do first is attempt parenting mediation – and that can either occur privately or at the courthouse with the court mediator who deals with co-parenting. If they’re unsuccessful at mediation, then the court will appoint an expert and the expert will interview the parents and determine what that parenting plan will be.
It’s expensive, and it is difficult for parents to give all that control to a third party who tries to make the determination for the best interest of the parent. If they don’t agree with that expert, they can have a trial and have the court determine after listening to testimony from that expert as to what the co-parenting plan should be. It’s extremely invasive – the children are interviewed, the children speak to the expert, the expert then relates this to the court – and it’s lengthy, time consuming, and emotionally draining. Clearly, the more parents can agree, the better it is for a family as a whole.
Alison C. Leslie, Esq. practices family law exclusively in her Morristown, NJ offices, where she offers her clients the individualized attention of a solo practitioner with the experience of a larger firm.