What You Need to Know About Arizona Parenting Coordinator Rule Changes

A parenting coordinator is an individual appointed by the Arizona courts to help disputing parents work together and resolve conflicts as it relates to the children. The coordinator may also provide the court with a recommendation if the parents are unable to reach resolution on their own. More often than not, this role is held by an attorney, a psychiatrist, social worker, or psychologist.

Changes Ahead

In 2015, the Arizona Supreme Court brought together a committee to review Rule 74, ARFLP, the rule governing parenting coordination. The purpose of this committee was to look at the current rule and to make recommendations for changes. Bear in mind that all the parenting coordinator appointments already in place by the implementation date of January 1, 2016, will be grandfathered into the governing powers of the existing rule until that appointment terminates.

The rule changes for parenting coordinators in Arizona are:

  • A coordinator can only be requested by the parties involved in the dispute. The court cannot appoint a parenting coordinator without this request from the parties.
  • In that request from the parties, the document has to include specific details regarding acceptance of how the PC’s fees operate on an hourly basis and that both parties agree to these charges.
  • Recommendations from a parenting coordinator are binding and may only be overturned by the court in very rare cases.
  • The request for a coordinator needs to either name a person and his or her hourly rate for this purpose or the means by which such an individual will be chosen.

Will We Have a Parenting Coordinator and Our Own Attorneys?

Going through a divorce or child custody dispute, you probably will already have an Arizona family law attorney helping you with this process. A parenting coordinator does not replace either the attorneys or the judge- rather, this person is in addition to those already involved in the case.  In many circumstances, a parenting coordinator will not even have their first meeting with the parties until near, or soon upon, the completion of a “pre-Decree” court case.

Choosing your own experienced family law attorney is important because of the many ways that divorce and child custody decisions can impact your future. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. When looking for the right attorney, make sure you are clear about his or her background and how they can help you for the duration of the case. Your attorney will be able to answer more questions about the role played by a parenting coordinator and how you should interact with this individual.

Since the parenting coordinator is appointed to both help you resolve conflicts and to make a recommendation if you and your former spouse are unable to reach agreement, you should always conduct yourself professionally with this individual. Any communication to the parenting coordinator should be written with this in mind, because you do not want to give the wrong impression, even if you are upset about an issue that has emerged. Consult with your attorney over the course of your case to be clear about the roles played by the various individuals and how this influences your case.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Parenting Coordinator Rule Change, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.