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

  • I am non custodial parent. I have come to realize that my ex wife is putting my children's mental and emotional well being at harm. is there anything i can do to get them back? She allows her abusive boyfriend around my kids, on various occasions they have witnessed serious domestic violence in one occasion her boyfriend was arrested and she did an order of protection for her and protected persons included my children, within a week she dismissed the order of protection, and allows him to be around my kids. They are still dating. i have police reports, is there possibility to get them back?
  • I have been taking care of my 2 children without their mothers help for about 2 years now. She hasnt seen them for almost a year and hasnt even trid to contact them for 6 months now. How do i go about getting full custody of them so she has no rights. She has disappeared off the map and i have no way of contacting her.
  • My Wife, who I do not plan on divorcing, told me she was taking our two kids to California for a vacation. She is now stating she is keeping the kids and not coming home. Does she have the right to keep our kids out of state?
  • Hello I have a 6 year old daughter in which her biological father has not seen since she was 2 years old. He also has never helped with any support towards her the only contact they have is via the phone when she sees her grandparents. He will not sign the passport papers to allow me to travel with her outside of the country. I just want to have legal rights over my daughter what do I need to do, to accomplish this?
  • I have a 15 month old child with my girl friend. she the mother has been out of state for 3 an a half months I have been supporting and taking care my son sence birth do I have any legal rights
  • Is there a statue of limitations on custody papers? Can they be ammended at any time? is there a penalty for not seeing your child for over a year? I have attempted to see my son many many times but his father is not enforcing the custody papers. Do I have legal action against that?
  • My husband and i are still married i never wanted a divorce. He has an alcohol addiction and one day decided to leave and ignore me. Its been a month since he has seen his child. And he only texts my sons cell phone. He only showed up at my mothers house with the police to take my vehicle away to which he was unsuccessful in doing. Then another long period of silence. What are my options, entitlements and chances of Custody if he tries to take me to court?
  • I am recently divorced. We have 2 kids. Joint custody. My daughter no longer want to go to her Dads during the week, what are her rights? she is 13. Conciliation Services told me I had to wait a full year before changing custody. That couldn't be right, could it?
  • My boyfriend and I (never married) had our son in TX and upon our agreeing to split decided to a three month rotation until he was old enough for school at which point I agreed to live where his father was so we could do one week on and one week off. I moved back to AZ and went to pick him up in TX after 3 months for my turn only to find out he moved from our house and is refusing me to tell him where he is unless I sign full custody to him. I calledthe police but in TX we both have 50/50 until a court were to say otherwise. Can I file for custody in AZ without him in my possesion?
  • Hi I gave up rights of my son and I have been seeing but now the person I gave rights to wont let me see him and he wants to see me I filed for parental time but do I have a chance?

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