Parenting coordination is a conflict-resolution process that helps parents make child custody and visitation decisions without confrontations, thereby avoiding emotional turmoil that can be harmful to themselves and their children. The process calls for bringing in a qualified third-party to help make decisions when the parents are otherwise deadlocked.
First employed in Pennsylvania in 2008, parenting coordination went out of use in 2013 after the state Supreme Court ruled that it had the potential to violate parents’ due process rights. But in response to input from family lawyers and judges about its benefits, the process was reintroduced in 2019. The court adopted parenting coordination rules that protect parents’ rights by subjecting coordinators’ decisions to a court review and appeal procedure.
While an award of custody is determined by what is in the best interests of the child, many details can arise about day-to-day activities and responsibilities. Parents often disagree on such matters as:
Because issues like these often arise on short notice and need to be resolved quickly, going to court is usually impractical. Instead, the parents can go to the coordinator for a prompt decision. If either party disagrees, they can appeal to the court, but the decision goes into effect in the meantime.
The court may appoint a coordinator on its own or at the request of parents who suggest a suitable candidate. A coordinator must be a licensed Pennsylvania attorney who has practiced family law for at least five years. The coordinator cannot function as the attorney for either side. In addition, he or she must have minimum training of:
The coordinator also must also 10 continuing education credits on parenting coordination biennially.
Coordinators are appointed for a period of time not to exceed 12 months, although an extension may be granted for good cause shown. If there is a Protection from Abuse Order in effect or if one party has been the subject of domestic violence, the court will not appoint a coordinator unless the parties consent and appropriate safety measures are put in place to protect the participants.
If you’re looking for assistance with child custody in Pennsylvania, turn to the experienced legal team at Morton & Kubacke Family Law, LLC in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Call us at 888-698-1787 or contact us online for a consultation.