If you are involved in a “high conflict” parenting situation (i.e. a divorce, custody proceeding, or post decree issue), the services of a parenting consultant or a parenting time expeditor may be appropriate to assist with on-going conflict in the case. But what’s the difference between a parenting consultant and a parenting time expeditor and which is the best choice for your case?

Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE)

A parenting time expeditor (PTE) is a neutral person appointed to mediate and, if necessary, arbitrate parenting time disputes. One of the main differences between a PTE and a consultant is that a PTE’s authority is based in the Minnesota Statues. If the PTE cannot resolve the parenting time dispute, they are mandated, by statute, to make a decision resolving the dispute. A court may appoint a PTE over objection of the parties, unless there has been domestic abuse or the parties cannot pay for a PTE. One of the notable differences between a PTE and a consultant is that a PTE’s authority may not exceed the authority as defined by statute. So a PTE may interpret, enforce, and clarify parenting time issues that may not be clear in a court order. The PTE can make a decision for the parties if they cannot agree and a PTE’s decision is binding on the parties. A PTE cannot be called as a witness in court.

Parenting Consultant (OC)

On the other hand, a parenting consultant (PC) is not created by statute but rather is a creature of contract. The parties, usually with the assistance of their attorney, agree to use a PC as their form of alternative dispute resolution. A court may NOT order a PC unless the parties expressly agree on one. The scope of the PC’s authority is determined by the parties and may be broader in scope than the authority granted to the PTE. A PC may address parenting issues and make decisions about parenting time and financial issues relating to the children. A PC may require a party to attend therapy or anger management. A PC decision is binding but some contracts allow for an appeal of a PC’s decision to district court. A PC may be called as a witness in court.

Parenting consultants and expeditors are not necessarily attorneys. Social workers, therapists, psychologists, and mental health workers can also act as PCs and PTEs. The background and qualifications of parenting consultants and expeditors vary so it’s a good idea to discuss pros and cons of each professional with your attorney before deciding on a person to use.