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.


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QUESTIONS

  • I am from Texas and had 2 children which reside in Texas with my ex. I want to know how can i get visitstion rights, where to file, and if I can get them during school breaks. The reason I ask is because i went back to Texas to visit them and my ex didn't let me see them and she won't even answer my phone calls.
  • My daughter's father has abandoned her for the last 6 years. Can I file for termination of parental rights and how do I do so.
  • Me and my ex wife have shared custody of our six year old daughter for the past 5 and half years. My ex wife now wants to move from chandler to queen creek, changing my daughters school to the queen creek area. I stated this was not fair because my drive would increase to 15 extra miles per trip, adding more drive time during my visitation days. Is this a fair assumption on my part? If we go to court what should I expect from a judge's descision?
  • What if I've been to prison and while I was there, my son's father took me to court and got sole legal custody, and since then has dumped my son off on his family (3 years) and has left the state? Do I have any right to do anything? He does not support our son in anyway.
  • I share joint custody of my son with my ex husband. We agreed to a parenting schedule at the time of our divorce 2 yrs ago. Now, I'm engaged and will need to modify the parenting schedule. Can my ex prevent me from moving 100 miles away to live with my new husband when our original order read "must remain 25 miles or less". I have a job lined up as well. How much notice do I need to give to move with our son to our new home?(I have physical custody)
  • I have 3 kids by the same man and his name is on their birth certificate and we never married. 7 years ago he was convicted of a sexual charge against my daughter and other charges and is in prison until my youngest is 18 years old. Before he sexual violated my daughter I had left him and was in a relationship with the man I’m married to today. My husband has raised my kids as his own for 7 years. Also the biological father was diagnosed as incompetent while he is incarcerated. Can my husband adopt my kids without his consent? So if I die he can raise my kids and not biological dads parents?
  • my 2 girls have lived with me always their dad has not seen them in months i let them go to idaho to see their family they now are threating to file.can they keep my kids from me until court
  • Currently pregnant- father wanted nothing but an abortion. Time has passed and he wants a DNA test. If the child is his can I petition to terminate his rights? I have proof of him wanting an abortion. I do not want child support or nothing- solely for him to not be involved since that is what he decided since the beginning.
  • My daughter grandmother was granted poco parentis custody and sole legal decision making custody. What do I need to do to get custody back of my daughter? I'm currltey living in the same home as them. What steps or actions do I need to start for me to get my daughter back?
  • Can I live in a different county and have joint custody?

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