Child Custody Article


What is a Court-Appointed Advisor and what is his or her function in a Family Law case?

You have a dispute with your child’s parent. One of you filed a petition or motion with the Court. The Court scheduled a Resolution Management Conference and at the conference, the Court tells you it is appointing a Court Advisor. Why? What happens now?

The Rules of Family Law Procedure provides for the appointment of a Child’s Attorney, Best Interest Attorney, or Court-Appointed Advisor. Each serves a different purpose. A Child’s Attorney or Best Interest Attorney act in a representative capacity – both participate in the case to the same extent as an attorney. On the other hand, a Court-Appointed Advisor is prohibited from taking any action that would only be permitted by a licensed attorney. However, a Court-Appointed Advisor can be especially helpful to the Court, in resolving disputes.

An order appointing a Court-Appointed Advisor must specifically state the reason for appointment, as well as the terms. For example, an Advisor is typically appointed in order to interview each party at their homes, review records – such as medical reports, school reports, emails or text messages, and police reports – speak to other interested parties, and often interview the minor child. The order will also state how the Court-Appointed Advisor will be compensated. Typically, the parties will be ordered to each pay 50% of the Court-Appointed Advisor’s fee, subject to reallocation. Therefore, the Court may order a party to pay a larger portion of the fee based on their unreasonable position, lack of cooperation, or other reason.

The Court-Appointed Advisor must have an opportunity to testify or to submit a report stating their recommendations regarding the best interest of the child and the basis for the recommendations. A Child’s Attorney or Best Interest Attorney are not allowed to testify or submit recommendations to the Court.

In order to qualify as a Court-Appointed Advisor, an individual must have received training or have experience in the type of proceeding in which they are appointed. Specifically, a Court-Appointed Advisor acts as more of a witness rather than a representative. The duties of a Court-Appointed Advisor are generally viewed as a witness or one who provides counsel or input. It is extremely important for you to cooperate with the Court-Appointed Advisor or comply with any requests of the Court-Appointed Advisor. You should treat the Court-Appointed Advisor with deference and respect. The recommendations of the Court-Appointed Advisor will be influenced by your cooperation and your honesty (or lack of) will likely be noted in the Court-Appointed Advisor’s report.

You, or your attorney, may question or cross-examine the Court-Appointed Advisor. However, it is important to remember that the Advisors appointed by the Court, appear before the judges often and are known to the Court. The Court views the Court-Appointed Advisor as an expert witness and relies on their recommendations.

A Court-Appointed Advisor may be especially helpful in a case where there are many factual disputes, an inability for the parties to cooperate, or the minor child is old enough to voice an opinion. Would a Court-Appointed Advisor be useful in your case? Possibly. It is important to consult with an attorney.

Contributing Attorney: Billie Tarascio litigates family law and domestic violence cases at Modern Law.


Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • The judge ordered: IT IS ORDERED that both parties shall participate in co-parenting classes through Parenting Skills. Is this the same class I completed and filed a certificate for on 9/30/2011 PEC - Parent Education Certificate? If so, am I required to take it again? Does an online course comply with Maricopa Superior Family courts requirements? If not, since the place in Scottsdale given to me at court on 09/12/13 no longer does the class where on the West side (Peoria/Glendale) can I go to comply with this order?
  • I have current custody & support orders in CA. I moved to AZ 2 years ago. My ex decided that he didn't want anything to do with them anymore & told me to keep them here in AZ even though our orders have him as sole physical (only since I moved out of state-before it was joint physical) & it is still joint legal custody. They have been with me 100% of the time for the last 6 mos. Father has not made any attempt to contact them or visit them. I would like to have new orders for me to have sole physical & I need an increase in child support (he is garnished in CA). Can I file in Coconino County?
  • How do I serve my child's Father court papers if he is missing?
  • i am trying to obtain emergency custody of my grandkids due to a child endangerment charge against my daughter what papers do i file
  • how do I get a court appointed lawyer. I have filled out all of the papers and had the mother served. she has not responded yet but she does have a lawyer
  • I received full custody (legal making decisions) for my son but his father, who is on his birth certificate, did not have to terminate his rights. He doesn't make much effort to be in our son's life and is not allowed to have visits unless they are supervised. My husband and I want to move out of state next year, am I within my rights to take him without consent from his father? Hoping for an answer before any big plans are set in motion. Thanks in advance!
  • My girlfriend and I have two children together. I would like to gain custody of them since she has been experiencing mental health issues and cannot take care of the children.  I cannot afford a lawyer and have been told I cannot leave the state without her permission and was also told since the children's birth certificates establish I am the father and that they have my last name I can relocate with them. I can't get a straight answer !
  • My sister has been deemed terminal. She has 4 young children. She probably has a couple months to live and is stressing because her oldest daughters don't want to live with their dad but they currently have joint custody arrangements. Her daughters are 14 and 11 and their dad has another custody case that he just recently lost along with having a CPS investigation opened due to abuse from him to child. These girls were also in the car when he was arrested for DUI. Where do we need to start to be able to obtain sole immediate custody for these girls? we need some thing quick..
  • Filed for divorce in NM a year and a half ago, moved to AZ in January of this year, have custody of my 2 children. Father still lives in NM rarely calls or writes kids and hasn't visited once. Paperwork in NM was not fully filed for visitation or custodial but divorce was finalized. How do I gain full custody in AZ now that we live here and have established our lives.
  • My daughter has custody the grandchildren. She is a drug addict/alcoholic. She has struggled with her addictions for years and once again losing battle. The children's father is in the military, stationed in WA. How can he ask for custody?

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • If you get a divorce, make sure your date of birth is on the Decree if your name is changing!. . .

LegalLEARN

YOUR FEEDBACK IS NEEDED

  • Welcome to our Newly Redesigned Website! Let us know how we are doing! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out our survey.

FIND LEGAL HELP

  • Please select your county of residence below.

    County:
     

OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
  • Bankruptcy Court Self Help Center
    866-553-0893
  • Certified Legal Document Preparer Program
    Link

ORGANIZATIONS