Creating a custody plan requires thorough planning, dedication, and compromise. In high-conflict cases when parents cannot come to an agreement cordially, Parenting Coordinators can be used. Are they right for you and your situation?
What is a Parenting Coordinator?
A Parenting Coordinator is a trained, certified, and court-appointed attorney or mental health professional assigned to your custody case to make limited custody decisions as they arise on an as-needed basis. A Parenting Coordinator’s scope of decision-making is limited to certain minor custody decisions that come up in the course of co-parenting where the parties cannot agree. A Parenting Coordinator cannot make major changes to legal custody, the physical custody schedule (except temporary deviations), relocation, financial decisions, or other major issues affecting the health, education, or religion of the child.
The court can appoint a Parenting Coordinator on its own, either party can request one to be appointed or the parties can always agree and select a Parenting Coordinator to be appointed to their case. Once an issue is brought to the Parenting Coordinator for decision, the parties each have the opportunity to present their positions and any evidence they want to be considered to the Parenting Coordinator.
What if you don’t agree with the Parenting Coordinator’s decision? The PA Parenting Coordinator Statute provides a method for appeal (filing objections) to a judge at which time a record hearing would be held and a judge would either uphold the Parenting Coordinator’s decision or set it aside and issue their own determination.
What kinds of cases are Parenting Coordinators used for? Absent agreement of the parties, the court is typically only appointing a Parenting Coordinator in high conflict custody matters that have had a history of frequent court filings.
The Pros are that some decisions that used to take months to litigate through the court system can be decided in days/weeks which gives parties prompt intervention and a final decision so that they can move forward in their lives. A Parenting Coordinator can save both parties money because instead of each paying their respective attorneys the legal fees and cost to litigate an issue, they typically only need to share the cost of the Parenting Coordinator.
The Cons are that the other party could end up abusing the process and asking the Parenting Coordinator to make frequent and arbitrary decisions resulting in unnecessary time and costs incurred by you. In this event, fees may be reapportioned by the Parenting Coordinator between the parties at the time they file their written report.
If you would like to explore your parenting coordination options, you should speak with an experienced West Chester attorney. At Potts, Shoemaker, and Grossman, LLC, our attorneys are prepared to assist you in finding the best approach for your individual situation. To schedule a confidential consultation, contact us at (610) 840-2626.