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The Untimely Death of Parenting Coordination in Pennsylvania

Recently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decreed that parenting coordination (PC) would be no more in this state, throwing parenting coordinators, lawyers and parents into a tailspin. What will happen to the current cases? Will the previous PC orders be thrown out? What other options will conflict-ridden divorcing parents have?  I don't have answers to these questions and currently we do not have further direction from the Court.

In high conflict, highly litigated custody cases, PC's can be appointed by judges, but they can also be agreed upon by both parents. A PC can be an attorney, a therapist, a custody evaluator, a psychologist, a psychiatrist or a social worker; in Pennsylvania, there is no particular credentialing process.  The PC should have a court order or agreement with the parties which discusses what aspects of custody that he or she can discuss and possibly decide. This would include such things as "it's my wife's weekend, but there's a family wedding that I want to take Johnny to. Can I do it?" Or, "There are two different activities that Jane wants to join. I can only pay for one. Which one should it be?"  The PC can discuss anything that the parties want to discuss, so long as it is agreed by both parties and not contrary to the order/signed agreement.

It seems as though some PC's were overstepping their bounds. The problems come in when therapists try to act like attorneys and decide legal or physical custody matters. I have never had this issue come up, and a well-drafted court order or agreement should prevent the problem. However, there have been complaints filed in Pennsylvania alleging these things and I guess the court decided that rather than having to deal with the complaints and confusion, to abolish the practice altogether, to the detriment of divorcing families with children. Perhaps there will be a legislative push to re-establish PC's; one can only hope. Studies have shown that with PC involvement, re-litigation drops as much as 75%.

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