Parenting Coordination Rules in Pennsylvania
When parents separate and divorce, children are impacted. There are changes to daily routines and long-term plans. Not only can the changes themselves be disruptive, but the parents who are sharing custody can find themselves fighting over custody arrangements as well. Parent coordinators can help.
What Is Parenting Coordination?
In some cases, when there are custody problems, the best course is to appoint a third party to help quickly and discreetly solve issues between parents and other custodial caregivers. The third party is referred to as a parenting coordinator.
Trained advocates, parenting coordinators are typically lawyers or mental health professionals who the court agrees can assist parents in making decisions to benefit the day-to-day lives of children. They strive to develop a relationship between the parents where common ground can be found. So even if there are personal conflicts between the adults, they are able to create a stable environment for the kids. Another benefit of parenting coordination is decisions can be made quickly and court costs can be avoided.
While parenting coordinators are there for support, their power is limited. They can help with decisions on childcare, extracurricular activities, and ways to streamline the pick up and drop off of custody exchanges. That said, they are not to decide on any major issues such as educational decisions, financial disputes, or religious differences. The court is to decide on major decisions, including issues of legal and primary custody.
Determining If an Advocate Is the Right Solution
Pennsylvania eliminated the parenting coordinator program in 2013, but advocates were reintroduced in March of 2019 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that parent coordination can help in some child custody disputes. However, not all custody cases are eligible for a parenting coordinator. For example, if there is a Protection from Abuse Order the parties must have safety concerns addressed before an advocate can be appointed.
The hope with the relaunch of parenting coordination is that disputes that are minor can be dealt with swiftly, benefiting both children and parents. When a situation is appropriate for an advocate, a parenting coordinator appointment is set for a specific period of time. That appointment can not be made for more than 12 months, but the relationship can be extended past a calendar year when appropriate.
Complicated custody cases can benefit from a parenting coordinator, but there are also times when a parenting coordinator is assigned and one (or both) of the parents are not happy with the arrangement. In those cases, a court petition can be made to change the situation. The parents do not have the authority to fire the coordinator on their own.
Contact an Attorney for Help
Do you have questions about the rules of parenting coordination? In high-conflict custody cases, there are options to help smooth disagreements and land on the best outcomes for everyone involved.
The Bucks County family attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand are experienced in the custody laws of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Contact us today to discuss the details of your personal situation.