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New PA Court Rules Related to Child Custody and Parenting Coordination

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The PA Supreme Court adopted new rules concerning custody that went into effect 3/1/2019. The new rules relate to parenting coordinators and open the possibility of a judicial district implementing a parenting coordination program. These programs incorporate the concept of mediation to assist in high-conflict custody cases.  According to a news article on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania's website, parenting coordinators may help resolve problems in a way that benefits parents and, most importantly, children in the custody process:  "parenting coordination is a non-confrontational, conflict-resolution process that helps families implement and comply with custody orders, reduce struggles between parents which harm their children, and minimize custody-related litigation."

After being appointed by the court, the parenting coordinator would talk with the parties about disagreements and work together to come up with potential resolutions. The coordinator may make resolutions to the court on topics such as school issues (apart from school selection), child-care arrangements and behavioral management decisions.  The new rules specify the necessary qualifications of a parenting coordinator, define his/her scope of authority and explain the procedures related to recommendations by a coordinator. 

The new rules are available through several sources, including the court's website and the Pennsylvania Bulletin (48 Pa.B. 5346).  They amend Rule 1915.11-1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and adopt Rules 1915.22 and 1915.23. For more information on the Supreme Court Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee that developed and recommended the rules, see the Committee's page.

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