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plan and limited need for our services on a day-to-day basis. On the other
hand, many parenting plans are skeletal and do not go beyond a general
description of “week-on-and-week-off parenting with equal sharing of the
summer vacation, spring break and Christmas”. The more ambiguous the
parenting plan, the more we are called upon to fill those gaps with mediated
agreements or binding decisions when the parents cannot agree. That
involves significant cost, costs which were not incurred earlier on when the
original settlement was completed or court order made.
So, as with much of our work as lawyers, all is seldom as it seems to the
casual observer. Simply hearing about the costs of any matrimonial file
without the knowledge of what was actually involved can be quite unhelpful
in assessing the merits of what has been accomplished.
Another paper I prepared in 2012 for a CLE, “Parenting Coordination:
The Program, the Precedents, and the Family Law Act”,8 focused in part on
aspects of my own work which had probably increased the costs for parents:
In reviewing my own practice over the last three years I think a number
of comments could be made that are relevant to (the cost) issue:
1. I have underestimated the tenacity of parents who are prepared to
keep fighting when they are repeatedly told they are not going to get
what they want on a particular issue.
2. I have had “developmental challenges” organizing my practice in a
way which enables me to focus on one issue at a time when parents,
not surprisingly, are giving me a stream of consciousness which may
involve four or five discrete issues, each worthy of consideration.
3. I have not limited my accessibility which tends to increase the desire
of parents to continue to communicate and incur additional
4. I have needed to more clearly set out expectations of parents in
terms of my expectations of them.
5. I have needed to create clearer boundaries around how the parents
communicate with each other.
6. I have had to continue to restate the obvious about my focus being
on the well-being of their children.
7. I have had to model basic communication skills for parents who, at
least as between themselves, have had those skills atrophy from lack
8. I have had to come to terms with the fact that often one or both of
the parents on a parenting coordinator file have versions of events
that are not only incompatible with each other but may be incompatible
with what their kids have experienced and shared with me.
(Yes that means three versions of the same event.)
9. I have had parents who each want me to read different portions of the
s. 15 report but not all of it.