High conflict cases are hardest on children.

Parenting Coordination

Fighting over the kids is everyone’s worst nightmare. Some judges and attorneys abhor listening to the nitty-gritty in parenting disputes. It takes a special person to want to help parents and, ultimately, families, learn to work together and empower them to become more independent with decisions over disputes going forward.

Lisa Shapson, one of our partners, is a trained parenting coordinator, mediator and collaborative family lawyer. She has been practicing family law for 20+ years, having both settled and tried many cases. Lisa is also the parent of two daughters, so she brings not only her family court experience to the table, but also her own parenting experience and compassion.

What is Parenting Coordination?

    Parents who are separating or who have already separated sometimes cannot work together to parent their children. Due to the volume of custody cases courts are already handling, it is impossible to expect local courts to hear and render decisions for day-to-day problems when high conflict parents cannot agree.
    1. Parenting coordination in Pennsylvania was first approved in 2008.

Although parent coordinators were phased out in 2013, the Supreme Court issued a replacement rule that went into effect on March 1, 2019, allowing judges to appoint trained attorneys and mental health professionals in this capacity.

What training do Parenting Coordinators have?

    1. Parenting coordinators in Pennsylvania must be either a licensed attorney or mental health professional with at least five years of experience.

These neutral third-parties are required to take specialized training that includes 5 hours of parenting coordination, 10 hours of family mediation and 5 hours of domestic violence.Parenting coordinators are also required to take continuing legal education credits in parenting coordination and domestic violence.

What does a Parenting Coordinator do?

    1. The role of the Parenting Coordinator is to help parents implement a parenting plan that serves the best interests of the children by minimizing parenting conflicts and reducing risks to the children involved.

Their mission is not to be involved in every aspect of your daily life, but to help you parent so you can, eventually, do so on your own.

    1. Typical parenting coordination appointments are for one year.

Of course, parent coordinators are available for future disputes that cannot be resolved between parents if parents agree to extend the appointment.

What is the process and how does it work?

Parenting Coordinators can be appointed by a judge or hired by the parties.

    If hired by the parties, both must agree on the Parenting Coordinator. The parties meet with a Parenting Coordinator or submit their issues in writing and the Parenting Coordinator issues a written recommendation to the court/parties.

The Parenting Coordinator is authorized to recommend resolutions regarding these issues:

    1. 1. Places and conditions for transitions between households;
      2. Temporary variation from the schedule for a special event or particular circumstance;
      3. School issues, apart from school selection;
      4. The child(ren)’s participation in recreation, enrichment and extracurricular activities, including travel;
      5. Child-care arrangements;
      6. The child(ren)’s clothing, equipment, toys, and personal possessions;
      7. Information (e.g., school, health, social) and communication with or about the child(ren);
      8. Coordination of existing or court-ordered services for the child(ren) (e.g., psychological testing, drug or alcohol monitoring and/or testing, anger management counseling, psychotherapy);
      9. Behavioral management of the child(ren); and
      1. 10.

    Other related custody issues that you agree to submit to the PC, which issues and request shall be confirmed in writing, and which are not specifically excluded by the applicable Rule of Civil Procedure.

      Exclusions include:
      1. – A change of legal custody;- A change in primary custody;- A change in the court-ordered custody schedule that reduces or expands the child(ren)’s time with a parent;- A change in the residence (relocation) of the child(ren);
          – A determination of financial issues (other than allocation of the PC’s fees);
          – Major decisions affecting the health, education, or religion of the children; and

        – Other issues as may be set forth by the Judge in the order appointing the PC.

Can I appeal the Parenting Coordinator’s decision?

    Yes. You can appeal the Parenting Coordinator’s recommendation with the Judge in court-appointed cases.

How much does it cost and who pays the fees?

Lisa’s hourly rate for parenting coordination services is $300/hour, which is billed in increments of 6 minutes. For court-appointed cases, the judge’s order will dictate whether the Parenting Coordinator’s fee should be split equally or by a different percentage, or whether one party is solely responsible for the fees.

Who should consider using a Parenting Coordinator?

    While some courts appoint Parenting Coordinators in high-conflict cases, parties can hire a Parenting Coordinator by agreement. Parties who are not on speaking terms or who cannot communicate civilly should consider using the services of a parenting coordinator.