Shared custody arrangements in Pennsylvania, even when created by a court order, can potentially cause intense conflict between parents. The adults in a family may have a very hard time cooperating with one another and working out the details of an effective co-parenting relationship after a divorce or non-marital split.
Parents may argue during custody exchanges or even disagree about basic aspects of co-parenting like their schedule and division of parental authority. Sometimes, families have such consistent conflict related to shared custody arrangements that they require outside help. The new parental coordination program facilitated by the family courts in Pennsylvania can provide an important form of support for those that are struggling to adjust to shared custody arrangements.
What is parental coordination?
The parental coordination program involves the courts appointing an attorney with at least five years of family law practice and mediation training to serve as a coordinator. That professional will help resolve conflicts between the parents about how they fulfill their parental responsibilities. They usually charge for their services.
The coordinator will communicate with the parents or their attorneys and help find solutions for family conflicts. They can suggest arrangements for scheduling, including unexpected deviations from the standard schedule. They can provide guidance on matters related to disputes about medical treatment, education and extracurricular activities. They can even help coordinate court-ordered services including psychological testing and treatment. Communications with a parenting coordinator are not confidential as mediation sessions would be, which is important for adults to understand when communicating with a coordinator.
How parental coordination can help
When parents are still embroiled in conflict with each other, they may find it impossible to work cooperatively or compromise. Bringing in an outside professional to learn about the situation and give an experience-based opinion on an appropriate solution can help parents set aside their conflict with each other and start developing rules and routines that really work for their family.
The appointment of a parental coordinator is not automatic, which means that one parent will need to request services based on family circumstances. Learning about the different ways that the Pennsylvania family courts can support those adjusting to co-parenting may benefit those worried about the viability of their current arrangements.