Act 112: Section 5333 - Informational programs

Section 5332 simply provides that the court may require the parties to attend parenting programs and to pay for the programs. Section 5332 does not require courts to set up such programs. As a practical matter, the vast majority of counties in Pennsylvania have informational programs related to custody.

Allegheny County:

In Allegheny County, one must schedule Generations before filing a Complaint for Custody. The Generations program is an educational seminar followed (weeks later) by a mediation session. Attendance at the educational seminar and mediation is generally mandatory, but mediation can be waived in cases involving domestic violence.

The educational seminar takes place at the Wightman School Community Building in Pittsburgh. Both parties attend the seminar, though not together. Also, children between 6 & 15 must attend as well. Children are engaged in activities with other children going through the same legal process. Many children report a positive experience.

Mediation is mandatory in the sense that each party must attend. The parties can enter into a consent custody order at mediation. However, neither party is required to agree to anything and the mediation session will not be used at later litigation. We strongly recommend obtaining experienced legal counsel prior before attending mediation. The resulting custody order can define your life for years to come.

The educational seminar and mediation are generally obligatory, but mediation can be waived in cases involving domestic violence. As of February 15, 2011, Generations costs $140 per party, plus $15.00 for each child between 6 - 15.

Washington County:

Washington County, Pennsylvania has an informational program entitled TransParenting. Washington County does not have custody mediation.

TransParenting takes place at Try-Again Homes on Jefferson Avenue in Washington, Pennsylvania. Both parties must attend and the cost is currently $40 each. Attendance at TransParenting is mandatory for the parents. Children do not attend.

Washington County is now taking failure to attend TransParening more seriously, invoking various legal consequences (including barring testimony and dismissing custody actions). TransParenting sessions currently take place twice a month and require advance payment.

The program has 3 parts (1) The legal process and dealing with life adjustments (2) Co-Parenting and dealing with kids (3) Changing and getting help. Many people find the program worthwhile, but it is mandatory in any event.