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 ex husband commuted domestic violence against me, got charged with a felony false imprisonment charge, was put on probation and got ordered supervised visits through family court, his mom was the supervisor and he gave up visitations and didn’t contact us or go to court for close to two years, all of a sudden he wants 50/50 custody I got awarded sole legal decision making and he was re arrested for assault on a new girl friend but charges were dropped, will the court give more than supervised visits back?
  • All, I have a 3 yrs old boy that was born when I was 24 and his mom was 16; I'm 28 now and she is 19. I pay her a weekly amount for child support (casual arrangement, have notarized letter with terms), and we had a verbal agreement that I would take him Fri night-Sun night and every other Wednesday. We got into an argument and now she will not let me see my boy; I have been a part of his life since the beginning. Can I take her to court to make custody and support legal? Will her being a 16 yr old mother be reason for criminal charges? Thanks in advance.
  • My question is.. my husband hs a domestic arrest 5 years ago this year, he filed for divorce, and i am going through a bankrupcty. Will any i have a chance of loosing my 3 girls ages 14,8,and 2. to him because of the money situattion. he has not supported us at all since he has ben gone(4 months)i am worried the courts will award him the sole or primary care giver for the girls(the oldest girls dont want to be with him). what to do ?
  • Our grandaughter has lived in our home since birth. Parents used to live with us, the moved out in March but did not take the baby. She is currently still living in our home, they have moved 3 different times since March. Mom is a minor she was arrested for domestic violence, but charges were dropped. Father was in jail for domestic violence too but charges were dropped. We provide for the baby and take care of her 95% of the time what is the chance of gaining custody?
  • My wife is threatning me to move out of state with my 3 yr old daughter. We don't live together now but I am still a legal guardian and the father on the birth certificate. What should I do to keep her from taking my child.
  • My husband has no papers. He has been served with petition to establish child support. I pay everything since he cant work. I would like to know if child support will become my responsibility in this case, since he does not work and if there is anything I can do. Thank you.
  • I am the non-custodial parent and currently have a parenting Plan in effect. It will be due for modification at the end of August. My question is if I wish to modify the parenting plan and do not have agreement from the other parent, what must I do and by what time. Another question, will the current parenting plan stay in effect if I do not file for a modification of parenting time?
  • I am seperated from my wife and I have custody of our children. Do I need her authority to take my kids out of state, to go on my vacations?
  • I am needing info about relocating my neice and her two children from Phoenix to Oklahoma. She is divorced,receiving 400.00 child support. She is unemployed and no ther income.This results from having a child that is bipolar, ADHD, and mood disorders. She desperately needs help from her family in Oklahoma. Her children's father will not let her move. We can help her with her children but e cannot afford an attorney and doesn't know a lot of people in Phoenix. Any advice or contacts that I could speak with. Thank you so much
  • im 16 and after my dad tried to kill me i now my mom who has full custody of me. i dont want to live here anymore i have to share a room with two other people, my mom drinks, and here boyfriend verbally abuses my little sisters. i would like to live with my aunt who lives in another state to have full custody of me without being emancipated, anyway i could do that?

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