Parent Coordination is an alternative dispute resolution method for high-conflict custody cases. In such cases, a Parent Coordinator, who is generally a mental health or legal professional, can be appointed by the Court or with the consent of the parents to assist in resolving custody disputes. The overall objective of a Parent Coordinator is to assist high conflict parents to implement their custody order/parenting plan and to resolve conflicts regarding the children in a timely manner when the parents are unable to resolve the matters on their own.
Generally, a Parent Coordinator can be authorized to make decision about issues that may include the following:
- Dates, times, places, and conditions for transitions between households;
- Temporary variation from the scheduled for a special event or particular circumstance;
- Minor long term adjustments to the physical custody schedule as set forth in the current custody order/parenting plan, not to exceed two (2) days per month;
- Selection of appropriate school for the child(ren);
- Child(ren)'s participation in recreation, enrichment, and extracurricular activities, programs, and travel;
- Childcare arrangements;
- Clothing, equipment, toys, and personal possessions;
- Discipline and behavior management of child(ren);
- Information exchange (school, health, social, etc.) and communication about the child(ren);
- Arrangements for health care reimbursements;
- Clarification of provisions in the court order/parenting plan, including, but not limited to holiday and vacation plans;
- Communication with the child(ren) when they are in the other household;
- Coordination of additional services for either of the parents or child(ren) (e.g. psychological testing, alcohol or drug monitoring/testing, psychotherapy, anger management, parenting class, etc.);
Erie County, Pennsylvania was one of the first counties in Pennsylvania to provide a process for appointment of a Parent Coordinator. A Parent Coordinator can be appointed upon the consent of the parties. When a Parent Coordinator is appointed upon the consent of the parties, they must execute a Stipulation consistent with the Erie County Local Rules, and the Stipulation will be entered as an Order of Court. Also, the Court is vested with the authority to Order the parties to participate in the Parent Coordination process when the Court finds that it is in the best interests of the child. 3/11
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