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 just did my paternity test and Iam the father when my daughter was born my ex did not put me on the birth certificate so i want to get another birth certificate with my name on it? Is this a simple procedure done at the social security office just bringing in my paternity test papers. Cause my ex has the original birth certificate?
  • What if I don't agree to court decision in custody/parenting time self representation/ attourney for other party. can I file an appeal or express my reasons for not agreeing
  • My wife told told she was going to vacation for 2 weeks to new mexico just got a text that wants a divorce and want to come with my 2 daughters she saying is staying what can i do
  • My husband wants to adopt my daughter, which is his stepdaughter. Her father has been out of her life for 7 years and makes no contact. Would he have to give up parental right or can he adopt her without us having to contact him?
  • If the father is on the birth certificate, do I have joint custody with him, or do I full custody? I've been taking care of our child for more than 6 months now. He also has charges for domestic violence. Nothing has been taken care of through court.
  • My daughter has filed for custody of her son of 1 year. The farther said he would give her full custody and sign the papers for that, what's the next step for my daughter and is he basically giving up his rights to the baby? Would he still have to pay child support and does she have to let him see the baby still?so e one please help.
  • before my child's birth can I temporarily give custody to my grandmother of my new born child
  • What exactly is "AZ ST 25-403.08" (Resources & Fees). I am a father of 2 boys and am at the final trial which is ending April. I have pretty much run out of financial resources to oay for an attorney and I have inadequate knowledge of the procedures and rules of the court. I have only petitioned to modify custody because my ex was making threats to take the children away and later she petitions for an enforcement of the decree. AZ ST 25-403.08??
  • My daughter's father has not been in her life for the past 5 years (she is 6 now), but he does pay child support. Is there a way to petition to have his parental rights terminated so that my husband and only known "dad" can legally adopt her and we won't have to worry about him pursuing his rights at a later date?
  • me and my girlfriend have a child together he has my last name and I'm named on his birth certificate how do I get custody of him as she has mental health problems. and can't look after him properly.

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