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Legal Information: North Carolina

Custody

Updated: 
February 6, 2020

When is a parenting coordinator appointed and what is his/her role?

The judge can appoint a parenting coordinator at any time during a child custody case, including after a final order is issued or after one parent is held in contempt for violating a custody order, if:

  1. all parties agree (consent);
  2. one party files a motion to request a parenting coordinator and proves the factors in the “note” below; or
  3. the judge decides on his/her own that one is needed based on the factors in the “note” below.1

Note: In the situations described in numbers 2 or 3 above, the judge can only appoint a parenting coordinator if all of the following are true:

  • appointing a parenting coordinator would be in the best interests of any minor child in the case;
  • the parties are able to pay for the cost of the parenting coordinator; and
  • the judge determines that it is a “high-conflict case,” which means that there is an ongoing pattern of any of the following:
    • excessive litigation;
    • anger and distrust;
    • verbal abuse;
    • physical aggression or threats of physical aggression;
    • difficulty communicating about and cooperating in the care of the minor children; or
    • other conditions that make the judge believe that a parenting coordinator is necessary.2

The order appointing a parenting coordinator must state the issues that the parenting coordinator is supposed to help the parties work on and decide. Any decision the parenting coordinator makes must be followed by the parents and can be enforced in court just as a judge’s order would be, unless a parent files a motion to ask the judge to overturn it and the judge agrees. The issues that a parenting coordinator can deal with include, but are not limited to:

  • transition time, pickup, or delivery;
  • sharing of vacations and holidays;
  • method of pickup and delivery;
  • transportation to and from visitation;
  • participation in child or day care and babysitting;
  • bedtime;
  • diet;
  • clothing;
  • recreation;
  • before- and after-school activities;
  • extracurricular activities;
  • discipline;
  • health care management;
  • changes in schedule that do not greatly interfere with the basic time-share agreement;
  • participation in visitation, including significant others or relatives;
  • telephone contact;
  • changes to the child’s appearance, including tattoos or piercings;
  • the child’s passport; and
  • education.3

1 NCGS § 50-91(a)
2 NCGS §§ 50-91(b); 50-90(1)
3 NCGS §§ 50-91(c); 50-92(a), (b), (b1)