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

  • My boyfriend and i just split up and he took my child away and said I'm never goin to seee him again. If i went to court for this could i lose my baby? He works and i dont but im starting my online schooling, I live with my mom and she help me out. My child can't be without me I raised him, I havent left his side.  What would the chances of me having him be and of not being able to see him again? if you could get at me asap please.

  • My mother gave me my 12 year old brother "temporarily" for an unknown amount of time and he is currently living with me, my wife and two younger children. What options do I have in terms of getting custody or guardianship of him.
  • Me and the mother of my child do not have any custody but I have had my daughter sense last May 22nd does that give me legal rights and custody or something?
  • I am expecting a baby 8/1/11. The father & I are not married nor are we cohabiting, but we get along. What is the basic process for establishing custody and parenting time? Are we legally required to file something through the court? If so, how? I don't care how often he comes over to see us but his work schedule is unpredictable, so a pre-scheduled parenting time arrangment might not be feasible. How formal does a parenting agreement need to be? Are there flexible options available?
  • I live here in az and want to terminate the parental rights of 2 fathers that live out of state that i can't get a hold of and haven't seen the kids ssensethey were babies how do I do this with little money?
  • i was involved with a women that had our doghter . i never paid child supoort and never had a say so about the babby. The women passed away and the sisster got full custady. Do i have any right to take full custudy?
  • What do I do if my ex registered my daughter for kindergarten and we have 50/50 yet she didn't include me and we live an hour away from each other
  • My baby's mom passed away before we could get married and put my name on the birth certificate. Now after all of this and her grandma promising to help me get custody, she decides she will take my daughter and move to Kansas. Question here is what should I do to get things done so I can have my daughter?
  • My ex and i have a history of domestic violence. He is about to be released from prision in 3 weeks. what steps should i take to file for custody of our5yr old son?
  • would the court allow the noncostodial parent to give up all parenting time

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • Age discrimination in the workplace. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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