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Ohio Divorce and Custody Matters: Parenting Coordinator and the Guardian ad Litem

The stress of divorce and juvenile custody matters often makes it easy to forget the roles of the many individuals involved in each case. While a multitude of material exists about the role of the attorneys, the parties, and the court, very little talks about the roles of two other important people in Ohio divorce and custody matters: the Parenting Coordinator and the Guardian ad Litem (GAL).

The Parenting Coordinator and GAL both serve an important role for the children involved in Ohio family law matters, though their involvement occurs at differing points in the case, if at all. Should one or both individuals be appointed to your matter, continue reading about their roles below.

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The Guardian ad Litem

A GAL may be appointed to help the court determine what is in the child’s best interests. Once a Guardian is appointed by the Judge or Magistrate, the court will decide which percentage of the Guardian’s fees each party will be responsible for paying, and an initial deposit will be required.

Thereafter, the Guardian will conduct an extensive review of your case to determine what is best for your minor child. A child’s wishes may be taken into account, along with the thoughts of family members, members of the community and the child’s school. The GAL may also conduct home visits to both residences to gather information about the child’s home life. Once the Guardian’s thorough investigation has concluded, he/she will issue a final report to the court, which will be considered when the judge or magistrate issues final orders in the case.

The Guardian will also take an active role in court hearings, settlement conferences involving child-related issues, but will remain an independent and unbiased party that serves the best interests of the minor child.

The Parenting Coordinator

Much like a Guardian, a Parenting Coordinator works as an unbiased third party, although the Coordinator’s work generally begins once a case has concluded and the GAL’s work is done. Coordinators are typically utilized in high-conflict cases to help separated parents resolve disagreements regarding child-related issues. Oftentimes, Parenting Coordinators can help parties resolve issues without them having to resort to litigating the matter again.

Your Coordinator may help facilitate healthy discussion between yourself and the opposing party, act as a neutral decision maker, and/or help implement standards set by your parenting plan. Typically, these issues involve school placement decisions, parenting time, and pick-up/drop-off times, should any disagreement occur.

Regardless of the circumstances of your matter, the appointment of either a Guardian or Parenting Coordinator (or both) can be extremely beneficial to your children, yourself, and your ex-spouse/partner.

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