Following on the heels of Eric Solotoff’s recent blog entry addressing the use of parenting coordinators, a new published (precedential) decision from the Appellate Division talks about grievances against parenting coordinators, parenting coordinator fees, and the need for a plenary hearing to address such issues. In Segal v. Lynch, the Appellate Division addressed these issues in the context of a long, acrimonious history of events simply regarding the parenting coordinator’s involvement in the highly contentious matter.
Soon after the trial court appointed the parenting coordinator pursuant to the Parenting Coordinator Pilot Program, the plaintiff called for the coordinators removal from the matter because the coordinator had contacted the trial judge to clarify the terms of an order. In response to the plaintiff’s indication that he would file a motion to have her recused, the coordinator pointed plaintiff to the Grievance Procedure outlined in the Pilot Program Guidelines, which required that plaintiff specifically outline his grievances to the coordinator before notifying the trial court. A major issue of contention at both the trial level and on appeal was the parenting coordinator’s indication that she would charge the plaintiff for her time taken to respond to his numerous grievances.
After the grievances could not be resolved, the plaintiff submitted his grievance letter to the trial judge, who issued an Order to Show Cause why the coordinator should not continue in the matter and why plaintiff should not pay the coordinator’s fees owed. The trial judge ultimately found for the coordinator, concluding that the plaintiff’s grievances were without merit and that the coordinator herself had acted "professionally and admirably" under very difficult circumstances.