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Parenting coordinator role eliminated from PA custody arrangements

Navigating divorce and life afterward can be especially challenging for parents, since having children adds a new dimension to the entire process. A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision has eliminated parent coordinating from child custody cases, leaving parents in Berks County and other parts of the state to settle disagreements on their own or through the legal system. It is important for parents to understand this change as well as means of mitigating conflict in a high-conflict separation.

PA Supreme Court decision

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted Rule 1915.11-1 into the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule states that parenting coordinators are eliminated, and that past appointments of parenting coordinators or orders by local courts are invalidated. With the adoption of the rule, only judges will have the power to make decisions in child custody cases.

The role of parenting coordinator, for people not familiar with the term, was to help parents sort out smaller disagreements, such as a break from custody scheduling on a specific day, as well as more important considerations like where the child would attend school. Proponents held that parenting coordinators made life easier for parents while handling issues that weren't worth going to court over. Critics believed that parenting coordinators held too much power and made decisions that should have been handled through the judicial system.

With the role of parenting coordinator eliminated, more parents may find themselves taking custody disagreements to court rather than resolving them quickly with a third party. People in high-conflict relationships or divorces may also be exposed to more strife. However, there are measures that parents can take to make a high-conflict separation more manageable.

Handling high-conflict divorce

A Huffington Post article published earlier this year offers several tips for protecting children and limiting conflict during a high-conflict separation. The advice includes:

  • Limit face-to-face contact and opportunities to fight.
  • Check emotional reactions and keep calm instead of being provoked into arguing.
  • Avoid behavior that could later be used against you.
  • Do not admit fault with your ex in an attempt to improve your relationship.
  • Don't try to force a co-parenting arrangement to work.

In more amicable divorces, honesty and authentic reactions can be helpful, and co-parenting arrangements are often successful. However, in high-conflict separations, presenting a united front will not always be possible. Instead, protecting your children from the conflict should always be a top priority.

Of course, sometimes conflict cannot be avoided. In the absence of a parenting coordinator, if you have child custody disagreements or want to seek modifications, it is important to seek the help of a professional to present your side before the court.

If you are in the process of divorcing, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can protect your rights as a parent and help you work toward the arrangement that is best for your child.

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