PA Supreme Court: No More Parent Coordinators in Custody Cases
On April 23, 2013 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted Rule 1915.11-1. The Rule states that parent coordinators no longer have a role in child custody cases and that only a judge may make custody decisions. The Rule reads as follows:
Only judges may make decisions in child custody cases. Masters and hearing officers may make recommendations to the court. Courts shall not appoint any other individual to make decisions or recommendations or alter a custody order in child custody cases. Any order appointing a parenting coordinator shall be deemed vacated on the date this rule becomes effective (Editor’s Note: May 23, 2013). Local rules and administrative orders authorizing the appointment of parenting coordinators also shall be deemed vacated on the date this rule becomes effective.
In 2007 the role of parent coordinators in child custody cases was solidified by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Yates v. Yates, 936 A.2d 1191 (2007). Since that time, the courts have utilized parent coordinators as decision makers in contentious child custody cases. This allowed judges to stay out of the day-to-day decisions that the parties were not able to resolve amongst themselves by appointing an independent person to make the decisions for the parties. This new Rule does away with the parent coordinator and it remains to be seen whether an increase in contempt and modification petitions will follow.
This is a significant development in child custody cases. If you are involved in a child custody case that utilizes a parent coordinator, you should be aware that their role in your case is over. All disputes in child custody cases are now back in the hands of judges.