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

  • While I was with my Mom at her boyfriend's house in CA, my friend and I walked in on them watching porn in the living room. They didn't hear us come in so she doesn't know that I know. I told my Dad and he is trying to decide how to handle this. I want to know (and so does my Dad) if this is reason enough for my Dad to get sole custody. Now they both have joint physical custody. Has a crime been commited and how will the courts view this event? Thank you.
  • My ex-wife has sole custody of our 14 year old daughter, and i'm pursuing sole custody. She remarried a felon with bad criminal past, and has 2 new babies with him. The 5 of them live in a 2 bed apt. Our daughter is sick all the time with numerous health problems, has excessive absences from school, and failing grades.I'm deeply concerned for her mental, emotional, physical, and moral health. My ex isn't giving her proper visitation with me. I live out of state and feel powerless until a court ruling can be made. I want action immediately. Does this merit an emergency post decree modification?
  • My baby mom got a order of protection against me for both her and my son. After my 1 hr supervised visitation she is required to leave the area immediately but she waits around. The director of the program witness and she made a 3rd party affidavit confirming that she waits when she shouldn't. She also says she hears the extremely inappropriate things my son says. She made a police report stating I was following her BUT she should of been 20 minutes away from the area . I got arrested beat the case and now I want legal actions done against her ? What would be my first step What kind of lawyer
  • I have sole custody of my children and want to move out of state. Can my kids father stop me from moving with my children?
  • At time of divorce we lived in Germany and in military custody orders made there my ex wife is still very bitter been years since divorce she rarely me see my son now we live in the same city how to go about custody and visitation
  • my husband and I are separated with 2 children. the oldest (almost 18 with a full time job) is living with him on the east coast. our youngest lives with me. we agreed to this arrangement. how do we go about a divorce with this living arrangement?
  • Can I get cudsty over the baby before he is born or dose that have to get done after he is born?
  • How old does a child have to be to decide on what parent they want to live with?
  • If both parents have passed away and the will wasn't finished before they were both passed away, but their wishes were known as to who should get the 2 children. Will that family member get the children or who legally would custody of the kids go to?
  • We currently have 6 month temporary custody of our grandson. We obtained this in court in mid-January, Our grandson has lived with us since birth but his mom and dad lived with us as follows: his dad until june of 2014 and his mom until Aug. 2014. This is while they fight this out in court. We want our daughter to get custody. How do we go about getting visitation since we have already been being his sole caregiver and support for over 6 months now. We just want documented visitation in court documents. How do we do this?

STORIES

  • 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!. . .
  • Age discrimination in the workplace. . .

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