July 24, 2024

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Controlling ex uses parent coordinator as cudgel

My ex is super controlling and unfortunately I agreed to use a Parent Coordinator for two years. Having a PC has allowed my ex to continue to micromanage my life and the lives of our five kids. He has brought every single disagreement we’ve had to the PC. Working with the PC became a full-time job. I literally had dozens of emails each week that had to be responded to within 24 hours. I was constantly getting links to hours-long videos that I was required to watch as part of the process. With five kids under 10, my days are crazy enough. There is a reason I do not work right now. I do not have time for a real job, let alone a fake one created by the PC and my ex.

The best day ever was when the PC decided she could no longer work with us. I thought we were done and the micromanaging was over. I was wrong. I just got a letter from my ex’s lawyer saying if I don’t agree to a new PC for another two-year period, she is filing for contempt. I only agreed to one two-year term and that two years will be up in March 2022. Can I be forced to start over?

I have not seen your agreement so I cannot speak to the terms regarding reappointment of a PC. I can say typically agreements call for a two-year term and a voluntary re-engagement process thereafter — voluntary being key. There is a case that basically prevents a judge from ordering someone to pay a PC when they do not agree to the process. If you want to read it, search for Bower v. Bournay-Bower. This is good news for you, unless of course your ex volunteers to pay the PC in full. Although, if he was willing to be fully responsible for all costs, he might think twice about the number of issues he raises when his pockets start to get lighter.

Most agreements call for what you do if the PC you select is no longer willing or able to serve. Without knowing what your agreement says, I can only suggest you write the lawyer back and explain that the PC process has been nothing but an exercise in your ex continuing to exercise control and micromanagement and not something you are willing to repeat with a different PC. Explain that your time is better spent parenting your children than hours upon hours of watching videos and responding to emails.

If you get served with a contempt complaint, file an answer in line with your response letter and be prepared to tell the judge what the process was like and why you will not re-engage. Bring examples of the emails. He should not be able to meet his burden for a finding of contempt. Also, a contempt hearing would probably not be scheduled until the eve of the two-year mark, making this a non-issue.


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