• Kathy Bloom

Parenting Coordination is Back!

Some people just can’t get along! If parents couldn’t get along while they were a couple, chances are they will not get along when they are no longer a couple. In some cases, it is beyond not getting along. One parent wants their daughter to play softball and the other wants her to sing in the choir. One parent might schedule activities during the other parent's custodial time. The other parent might always return the children late. Bedtime in one house might be 8:00 p.m. and the other parent allows the children to stay up until 10:00 p.m. One parent wants to change the custody schedule every week. The other parent refuses to swap time no matter what. If every parenting issue or custody dispute that arose needed to be resolved in a court appearance, parents would go broke keeping up with their legal fees and the courts would be overwhelmed with trivial issues that prevent them from dealing with more serious issues.

As of March 4, 2019, Pennsylvania brought back Parenting Coordination under new Rule 1915.11 as a way to deal with the ongoing issues that parents have after they have a final custody order or custody agreement. For high conflict custody cases a judge can appoint a Parenting Coordinator, or the parties can agree, as part of their custody agreement to have a Parenting Coordinator appointed.

Parenting Coordinators can either be attorneys licensed to practice in Pennsylvania or licensed mental health professionals with a master's or doctorate level degree. All Parenting Coordinators (including attorneys and mental health professionals) must have specialized training that includes Parenting Coordination training, mediation training, and domestic violence training. Additionally, Parenting Coordinators must have practiced family law for at least five years or have five years of post-degree experience in psychiatry, psychology, counseling, family therapy, or other comparable behavioral or social science field.

The Parenting Coordinator is appointed for up to a period of one year. If there is a history of domestic violence between the parties, Parenting Coordination is probably not an option unless the parties consent and appropriate safety measures are taken to protect the participants, the Parenting Coordinator, and third parties.

The issues that a Parenting Coordinator can help resolve include:

· Places and conditions for custodial transitions between households

· Temporary variation from the custodial schedule for a special event or circumstance

· school issues, apart from school selection

· the child(ren)’s participation in recreation, enrichment, and extracurricular activities, including travel

· child care arrangements

· clothing, equipment, toys, and personal possessions of the child(ren)

· information exchanges (e.g., school, health, social) between the parties and communication with or about the child(ren)

· coordination of existing or court-ordered services for the child(ren) (e.g., psychological testing, alcohol or drug monitoring/testing, psychotherapy, anger management)

· behavioral management of the child(ren), and

· other custody issues that the parties agreed to submit to the parenting coordinator, (other than legal custody, primary physical custody, and financial issues. The list of specifically excluded topics are set forth more fully in the Rule.)

Under the Rule, the following specific issues are excluded from the parenting coordinator’s scope of authority:

· a change in legal custody as set forth in the custody order

· a change in primary physical custody set forth in the custody order

· a change in the court-ordered custody schedule that reduces or expands the child(ren)’s time with a party, other than a temporary variation for a special event or circumstance

· a change in the residence (relocation) of the child(ren)

· determination of financial issues, other than allocation of the parenting coordinator’s fees

· major decisions affecting the health, education, or religion of the child(ren)

The process is simple. The Parenting Coordinator acts as a neutral party and provides each of the parties with the opportunity to present their side of the controversy. Upon review of the information, the Parenting Coordinator gives a recommendation to the parties and submits it to the court in writing within two days after hearing from both of the parties. If either party objects to the recommendation, he or she must file a petition for a hearing before the court within five days from the submission of the recommendation of the Parenting Coordinator. If neither party files an objection within the required time, the court will either:

(1) approve the recommendation;

(2) approve the recommendation in part and conduct a record hearing on issues not approved;

(3) remand the recommendation to the parenting coordinator for more specific information; or

(4) not approve the recommendation and conduct a record hearing on the issues.

This process is an excellent way to resolve parenting issues quickly and cost effectively. Instead of paying two lawyers to take the issues to court, the cost of one Parenting Coordinator is split between the parties.

For more information about Parenting Coordination call Bloom Peters, LLC at (215) 366-7839 or email us at info@bloompeters.com.

Peaceful resolutions make happy kids!


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