Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure Rule 716. Appointment of Parenting Coordinator in Child Custody and Visitation Disputes.
A. Definition of “Parenting Coordinator”. A Parenting Coordinator under this rule is a qualified neutral person appointed by the court or agreed to by the parties to assist the parties in resolving issues relating to parenting. The Parenting Coordinator will aid the parties in identifying disputed issues, reducing misunderstandings, clarifying priorities, exploring possibilities for compromise and developing methods of collaboration in parenting. The Parenting Coordinator will make such decisions or recommendations as may be appropriate when the parties are unable to do so. The goal of the Parenting Coordinator should always be to empower the parents in developing and utilizing adaptive parenting skills so that they can resume the parenting and decision making role in regard to their own children. When it is not possible for the parents to agree, the Parenting Coordinator shall provide only the amount of direction and service required in order to serve the best interest of the child by minimizing the degree of conflict between the parties.
B. Reference to a Parenting Coordinator. A reference to a Parenting Coordinator shall be the exception and not the rule. Such a reference shall be made only when one of the following occurs:
1. The issues appear to be intractable or have been subject to frequent re-litigation.
2. The well-being of a minor child is placed at risk by the parents' inability to co-parent civilly.
3. One or both parents has committed domestic violence.
4. One or both parents is chemically dependent or mentally ill.
5. When other exceptional circumstances require such appointment to protect the child’s best interests.
C. Matters in which appointment may be made. The court, upon agreement of the parties or after having found on the record that the circumstances specified in Section B are present, may appoint a Parenting Coordinator in any action involving custody of minor children. The appointment may be made at any stage in the proceeding after entry of an order, decree, or judgment establishing child custody.
D. Selection of Parenting Coordinator. In the absence of an agreement by the parties, the court may only appoint a qualified Parenting Coordinator who has met the requirements set forth in Section F.
E. Authority of the Court.
1. The appointment of a Parenting Coordinator does not divest the court of its exclusive jurisdiction to determine fundamental issues of custody, visitation, and support, and the authority to exercise management and control of the case. A court may order the appointment of a Parenting Coordinator upon seven (7) days notice to the parties. If either party objects, the court will hold a hearing prior to making the appointment.
2. By way of illustration and not limitation the order may authorize the Parenting Coordinator to determine such matters as:
a. time, place and manner of pick up and delivery of the children,
b. child care arrangements,
c. minor alterations in parenting schedule with respect to weeknight, weekend or holiday visitation which do not substantially alter the basic time share allocation,
d. participation by significant others and relatives in visitation,
e. first and last dates for summer visitation,
f. schedule and conditions of telephone communication with the children,
g. manner and methods by which the parties may communicate with each other,
h. approval of out-of-state travel plans, and
i. any other issues submitted for immediate determination by agreement of the parties.
3. By way of illustration and not limitation the order may authorize the Parenting Coordinator to make recommendations to the court on such matters as:
a. which parent may authorize counseling or treatment for a child,
b. which parent may select a school,
c. supervision of visitation,
d. submission to a custody evaluation;
e. appointment of an attorney or guardian ad litem for a child; and
f. financial matters including child support, health insurance, allocation of dependency exemptions and other tax benefits, liability for particular expenditures for a child.
F. Qualifications of Parenting Coordinators.
1. To be appointed as a Parenting Coordinator in the absence of a stipulation of the parties a person must be on the list of mediators compiled by the Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 603.M . Parenting Coordinators must have participated in at least twenty (20) hours of training in domestic violence and lethality assessment as set out in F.2 below within two years of the initial application. They must also have a basic familiarity with child development as it pertains to issues of bonding, attachment, and loss in early life and future child development. Each parenting coordinator must, at his or her own expense, submit to a criminal history check as provided for in Rule 47, I.C.A.R .
2. The twenty (20) hours of training required shall be in one or more of the following areas: (i) domestic violence; (ii) violence in families; (iii) child abuse; (iv) anger management; (v) prediction or evaluation of future dangerousness; or (vi) psychiatric causes of violence; and shall be acquired by completing a program approved or sponsored by one of the following associations: (i) Idaho Psychiatric Association; (ii) Idaho Psychologists Association; (iii) Idaho Nursing Association; (iv) Idaho Association of Social Workers; (v) Idaho Counselors Association; (vi) Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance; (vii) Idaho State Bar; (viii) Idaho Supreme Court; (ix) an accredited college or university; or (x) any state or national equivalent of any of these organizations. Any program that does not meet the criteria set out in this subsection may be submitted for approval either prior to or after completion.
3. If the application indicates the applicant lacks any of the necessary qualifications the application will be conditionally rejected. The applicant will be provided thirty (30) days after the conditional rejection to provide any additional documentation concerning his or her qualifications or criminal history. The rejection shall become final thirty (30) days after the conditional rejection unless the Supreme Court determines after reviewing any additional documentation submitted that the applicant is qualified and fit to perform as a Parenting Coordinator.
G. Duties of Parenting Coordinator.
1. The Parenting Coordinator has a duty to define and describe for the parties, in writing, the role of the Parenting Coordinator during the initial conference with the parties. The description should include the following:
a. The difference between a Parenting Coordinator and other forms of conflict resolution, including therapy, counseling, and mediation.
b. The circumstances under which the Parenting Coordinator will meet alone with either of the parties or with any other person.
c. Any confidentiality of the proceedings and any privilege against disclosure.
d. The duties and responsibilities of the Parenting Coordinator and of the parties.
e. The fact that the resolution of any disagreement not reached by mutual consent of the parties may be decided by the Parenting Coordinator subject to review by the court upon motion or petition of either party.
f. Their right to seek independent legal counsel prior to resolving the issues or in conjunction with formalizing an agreement.
g. The information necessary for defining and resolving the disputed issues.
h. The duty to keep an adequate record of contacts with the parties and other interested persons in the case. Such documentation shall be privileged and confidential except upon order of the court to reveal it.
2. The Parenting Coordinator has a primary duty to be impartial, and to advise all parties of any circumstances bearing on possible bias, prejudice, or impartiality.
3. Best interest of the children is defined by section 32-717, Idaho Code, and nothing in this rule is intended to supersede, replace, or invalidate section 32-717.
4. The Parenting Coordinator may not make any modification to any order, judgment or decree; however the Parenting Coordinator may allow the parties to make minor temporary departures from a parenting plan if authorized by the court to do so, and the appointment order should specify those matters which the Parenting Coordinator is authorized to determine. The order will specify which determinations will be immediately effective and which will require an opportunity for court review prior to taking effect.
1. The order appointing the Parenting Coordinator shall specify the procedure to be followed by the Parenting Coordinator. The procedure specified should be simple, swift, and inexpensive. The parties will be given an opportunity to be heard on every issue submitted to the parenting coordinator but the procedure to be followed can be informal, and need not comply with the rules of evidence and procedure. Unless requested by the parties, no record need be made except for the Parenting Coordinator’s decision or recommendation. In emergencies and other circumstances involving severe time constraints the decisions may be made orally, but in a fashion communicated to both parties and followed by written confirmation within a reasonable time thereafter. Decisions with respect to matters submitted under paragraph E.2 will be effective when communicated to the parties. Recommendations under paragraph E.3 will be effective fourteen (14) days after submission to the court.
2. The Parenting Coordinator may report to the court:
a. The status of the case, including, but not limited to, those specific duties set forth in the Parenting Coordinator's order of appointment. The order appointing the parenting coordinator shall require at least one status report to be made to the court and the parties by the Parenting Coordinator every six months;
b. Recommendations of the Parenting Coordinator;
c. That the Parenting Coordinator withdraws from the case.
3. The parties shall have the right to have counsel review any action taken by the Parenting Coordinator. The Parenting Coordinator and the attorneys for the parties may communicate with one another in the following manner:
a. Any contacts between the attorneys and the Parenting Coordinator may be either in writing or by telephone call or in person and may be ex parte, provided, however, that both parties shall maintain a log of all contacts in the case;
b. Attorneys are excluded from conferences with the parties unless the Parenting Coordinator requests their presence.
I. Termination of Parenting Coordinator - status report.
1. The court or the Parenting Coordinator may terminate the appointment if further efforts by the Parenting Coordinator would be contrary to the best interests of the children, if the children have reached the age of majority, or if the parties stipulate to such termination.
2. Either party may petition the court for termination of the Parenting Coordinator's appointment whenever the Parenting Coordinator has exceeded his/her mandate or has acted in a manner inconsistent with this Rule, or has demonstrated bias.
J. Role of counsel. Counsel for either party shall not by this rule be constrained from continuing to represent and advocate for their clients in a manner consistent with their professional ethics.
K. Compensation of Parenting Coordinators. Parenting Coordinators shall be compensated at their regular fees and expenses, which shall be clearly set forth in the information and materials provided to the parties. Unless other arrangements are made among the parties or ordered by the court, the interested parties shall be responsible for a pro rata share of the Parenting Coordinator's fees and expenses, commensurate with their respective contributions to total child support. If a Parenting Coordinator is not paid, the court, upon motion of the Parenting Coordinator, may order payment. Any dispute regarding payment of the fees and costs of the Parenting Coordinator shall be subject to review by the court upon request of the Parenting Coordinator or either party.
L. Statistical records. The Supreme Court shall monitor and keep records of the outcomes of Parenting Coordinator appointments for purposes of quality control and to provide information upon which to evaluate the costs and benefits of such appointments. Each Parenting Coordinator will provide such information as may be requested by the Supreme Court for these purposes.
*Pilot Project for Fourth Judicial District
(Adopted November 20, 2012, effective January 1, 2013)