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 MOM HAS A HUSBAND THAT DOES REALLY BAD THINGS TO ME AND MY SISTER AND PUTS HIS HANDS ON MY MOM WE MOVED TO MY GRANDMAS BUT MY MOM SAID WE HAVE TO MOVE BACK AND I WANT TO STAY WITH GRANDMA WHAT DO I DO
  • I have 50/50 custody of my sons there dad kicked out my 14 year old son can I file for full custody
  • The mother of my grandson was asked to leave her parents home because of drugs. They told her that she could leave her two sons their or take them with her and she chose to leave them there. This is a continual problem. My son , the father was into drugs but is now clean and has a job. How can I (we) get custody? Please help!!
  • I am legally divorced, I was a stay at home mom. I have just started working pt, but do not have enough money to get a lawyer. Will his income be counted as mine, even though I have no access to it. I'm wondering if I qualify for free legal assistance. We are not agreeing on custody.
  • I'm the father and I have a drug problem, I'm temporarily moving to Utah to go to rehab and be with family. Is there a form I can file proving I'm not abandoning my son in case she files for custody?
  • I am trying to find information for a friend who is unable to afford a divorce/legal separation. His spouse has essentially kidnapped their son and left the state without any contact. The cost of filing for legal separation/divorce is not prohibitive, but the forms require legal assistance to fill out properly which is costly. Is there a way to petition for temporary custody order/rights without filing for legal separation to bring their son back to his home state?
  • My ex is smi ( seriously mentally ill) and have suicidal tendencies and is a heroin addict and have multiple domestic violence against her. Could she refuse to let me see or speak to my daughter and take sole custody of her?
  • my wife asked me to leave the house 9 months ago. We now live in 2 different counties. She is very controlling of the time that i can spend with my daughter. So, I would like to go to court in order to let them set up some sort of visitation with my daughter for me, something more concrete than just my ex's wims and how she's feeling on the days I want to see my daughter. How do I go about filing for visitation rights. Please help- I am missing my daughter terribly and I know I should be able to see her. Thank You
  • I have been accepted to job corps a program that pays for everything for me to study and on the job training. the only state that allows me to take my 7 month child with me is North Dakota. The father of my child hasnt been in her life these last three months even when i call him and text him he just ignores me. He is on the birth certificate but isnt helping me with any child expenses and doesnt even want to see her. He said it was okay for me to take her before but he got mad one day and said i couldnt. Their is no papers set down in court either.
  • My daughters father who has being in prison for 17 years is thrusting me with having custody of my child 7 days a week every other week. He is not on the birth certificate and has not been part of her life, she is now 5 months old, he asked me to abort when I told him I was pregnant. Will the court grant him custody. He was in prison for holding a family hostage.

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