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 13yo daughter keeps asking me what age she can choose which parent to live with? I'm the non custodial parent(my ex wife has custody). We are very cordial with each other but I know it would break her heart if our daughter leaves to live with me? I know my daughter is unhappy at home. So what age can she choose? How do I change the custodial arrangements?
  • I am trying to find out where to file custody. My son who is eight years old.has been living with me for 7 years in AZ.About 2 years ago I moved to NY. His father took him. He does not have legal custody of him. I am back in AZ. My quistion is, do i file in NY or in AZ?
  • how long do I have to respond to child custody order
  • My son had a girlfriend that is having a baby any day. The girlfriend has been with us and under our care untill recently. She has grown up in a unstable and unsafe and abusive living environment. The mother who has custody recently came back into her life with her boyfriend that use to molest the girl I'm speaking of. The girl was living with her great grandma and they moved onto the property and she feels unsafe there and they made her go back . When she had her baby can she and my son sign a pepper giving me legal custody of the baby untill they are 18 . Please help asap. Thank you.
  • I have been seoerated from my husband for the last 8 week. He told me to take my two boy age 6 & 8 and move to my sisters in Nevada. I have both boys in school here and have a new job . befor my paper were filed with the Nevada. He filed in AZ. I was served today with paper stating I must return the children to Flagstaff. I need to know what I can do to appeal this discision. My husband has anger issues he is bypolar and has very eratic behavior
  • i am 21. work part time, school part time at GCC. my boyfriend(baby daddy) and i just broke up. i need help on what to do legally for custody and also to file for child support. i need help before around christmas time. i am 30 weeks pregnant and don't want to lose my little baby boy.
  • What if my child has no father listed on the birth certificate,I don't want a paternity test, and I have handled ALL of his medical care for his condition since he was born and he lives with me, do I need to file for custody of my son even though I have it, it's just not legal through a court?
  • My 14 year old son refuses to live or visit his father and we have not followed the court order for over 5 years what do I need to do?
  • What parental rights do I have as a non-custodial parent. The custodial parent refuses to inform of medical conditions, medical and dental visits, school functions (states I am forbidden to attend), parent-teacher conferences, open house at school, basically he believes I am not permitted to have any form of contact outside my ordered visitation time - Saturdays 7am - 6pm?
  • My ex husband and I have joint custody of our 2 year old son. Our son is showing some sensory and possible speech problems. I invited AZIEP out to do an initial sreening and invited him as well. He thinks it's stupid and doesn't want him to be evaluated and would not give consent for an OT evaluation the screener suggested and I gave consent. He also says he won't give consent for any kind of preschool. Professionals are seeing problems and are suggesting evaluations. Can I still get him evaluated without his consent? If not what is my recourse to help my son get what he needs?

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