Parenting Coordinator: A Guide for Pennsylvania Parents

May 20, 2024 | By Tara Burns

Individuals who are engaged in protracted custody litigation in Pennsylvania may come across the concept of a parenting coordinator during the duration of their custody matter. The below covers the basics of a parenting coordinator in Pennsylvania, including what the role entails and how a parenting coordinator impacts a custody case.

What/Who is a Parenting Coordinator?

In Pennsylvania, the scope of the parenting coordination program and the role and responsibilities of a parenting coordinator are both defined by 231 Pa. Code § 1915.11-1. Judicial jurisdictions have the ability to opt in or out of a parenting coordination program. If a district chooses to have a parenting coordination program, they are required to both establish a uniform hourly rate for parenting coordinators and to maintain a list of individuals who are qualified to serve as parenting coordinators. In order to serve as a parenting coordinator, an individual must be either a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania or a mental health professional with at least a master’s degree licensed to practice in Pennsylvania. Additionally, the individual must have at least five years of experience as either a family law attorney or at least five years of experience in psychiatry, psychology, counseling, family therapy, or a similar psychological practice area.

What is the role of a Parenting Coordinator in a custody matter?

Parenting coordination is not an appropriate tool in every custody matter. The statute makes it clear that parenting coordinator should be reserved for “cases involving repeated or intractable conflict between the parties affecting the implementation of the final custody order.” 231 Pa. Code § 1915.11-1(a)(1). Essentially, parenting coordination is a helpful tool in matters where the parties frequently disagree on specific, day-to-day decisions (i.e. sports and extracurricular activity selections for the children, small deviations from the schedule, appointment times, etc.). As outlined further in the statue under section (a)(2), parenting coordination is not permissible (absent the consent of both parties and appropriate safety measures) in cases involving domestic violence or personal injury crimes involving the two parties in the matter.

A parenting coordinator can be appointed in a matter either by Order of Court or agreement of the parties in a matter. The appointment can not be longer than 12 months at a time, but parties can agree to “re-up” the parenting coordinator for another term and the Court also has the discretion to reappoint a parenting coordinator for another term. Once a parenting coordinator is appointed, they must execute their own written agreement with the parties in a custody matter.

Once appointed, the parenting coordinator’s scope of authority is governed by 231 Pa. Code § 1915.11-1(d).

The parenting coordinator can make decisions on, “places and conditions for custodial transitions between households, temporary variation from the custodial schedule for a special event or particular circumstance, school issues, apart from school selection, the child(ren)’s participation in recreation, enrichment, and extracurricular activities, including travel, child-care arrangements, clothing, equipment, toys, and personal possessions of the child(ren), information exchanges (e.g., school, health, social) between the parties and communication with or about the child(ren), coordination of existing or court-ordered services for the child(ren) (e.g., psychological testing, alcohol or drug monitoring/testing, psychotherapy, anger management), behavioral management of the child(ren), and other related custody issues that the parties mutually have agreed in writing to submit to the parenting coordinator, which are not excluded in subdivision (d)(2).”

The parenting coordinator cannot make decisions regarding,  “a change in legal custody as set forth in the custody order, a change in primary physical custody as set forth in the custody order, except at as set forth in subdivision (d)(1)(ii), a change in the court-ordered custody schedule that reduces or expands the child(ren)’s time with a party, a change in the residence (relocation) of the child(ren), determination of financial issues, other than allocation of the parenting coordinator’s fees as set forth in subdivision (g)(1), major decisions affecting the health, education, or religion of the child(ren), and other issues limited by the appointing judge.”

Typically, parties bring an issue to the parenting coordinator via email. The parenting coordinator then provides each party with the opportunity to submit their respective position on the issue. The parenting coordinator can then either see if the parties can resolve the issue via agreement or with some guidance (an informal recommendation) from the parenting coordinator or can issue a formal recommendation on the issue. Once a formal recommendation is issued and submitted to the Court by the parenting coordinator, the parties can either accept the recommendation and allow it to become an Order of Court or object to the recommendation. If there is an objection, the party must file a petition for a record hearing within five days and the Court will hear the issue and make a final determination. Parenting coordinators cannot be compelled to testify at these hearings or other hearings in the matter absent an Order of Court. The process does not involve any interviews with third parties or the children involved in the matter.

If you are involved in a custody action and have questions about whether a Parenting Coordinator might be appropriate for your matter, a conversation with an attorney can be helpful in navigating the process.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys. 

About the Authors

Tara Burns


Tara Burns is an attorney in Obermayer’s Family Law Department. Tara conducts legal research and drafts memoranda on her findings, aids clients and attorneys with the discovery process, prepares pleadings, motions, discovery...

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