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Rule4-509. Court-appointed parent coordinator.


To establish therole, qualifications and procedures of the parent coordinator.


This rule applies in any case in which aparent coordinator is ordered by the court.

Nothing in this rule limits, supersedes, orreplaces court-ordered or mandatory mediation.

Statement of the Rule

(1) Role of the parent coordinator.

(1)(A) Upon court order, a parentcoordinator may be appointed to serve in child custody and parent-time disputes.The parent coordinator?s role is to consult with the parties and makerecommendations directly to the parents about how the children?s needs can best be served. The role of the parent coordinatoris like that of the mediator in that the parent coordinator seeks to elicitcooperation and agreement between the parents. Using his or her expertise inchild development, however, the parent coordinator also, after hearing theparents? perceptions and thoughts, offers advice and guidance with regard to specificdecisions. With the help of the parent coordinator, the parents then create,revise, or clarify their parenting plan, as defined in the Utah Code.

(1)(B) The function of the parentcoordinator is to make suggestions to the parties that are in the bestinterests of the children and are solutions and compromises that the parentscan accept and implement. The parent coordinator is expected to use his/herinsight, training, and therapeutic skill to diffuse conflict and stimulateappropriate parental communication. The length and frequency of parentconsultation sessions will depend on the number of unresolved issues and bothparents? desire for guidance. The parents may use this service on an as-neededbasis as problems arise, even after a settlement has been reached.

(1)(C) The role of the parent coordinator isnot primarily investigative, although the parent coordinator may meet and/orinterview the children briefly during the course of the consultation process.Suggestions will not be binding upon the parties, and will not be sent to thecourt or others unless both parents agree to their dissemination and signwritten releases to that effect. Involvement of a parent coordinator is bestsuited for parties who can respectfully exchange ideas and who can benefit fromindependent professional advice in areas where they disagree. If a viableparenting plan is established through work with the parent coordinator, theparents may stipulate to a custody and parent-time agreement, and thereby avoidactive involvement of the court.

(2) Term and condition of consultation.

(2)(A) The order appointing the parentcoordinator shall address:

(2)(A)(i) theminimum number of visits, not to be less than 4 hours of face to face jointconsultation, with the parent coordinator, unless the formal parenting plan isfinalized sooner;

(2)(A)(ii) responsibilityfor payment of the parent coordinator?s fees; and

(2)(A)(iii) anylimitations on the role of the parent coordinator.

(2)(B) Termination of the services shall notexcuse either party?s responsibility for fees already incurred.

(3) Content of consultation. The parentcoordinator may consult with the parties on a wide variety of issues related tochild custody/parent-time as well as other needs of the children. The focuswill be the developmental and other needs of the children. The goal will be topreserve relationships and protect the children from the disruption andconflict that can occur with divorce. Specific topics that may be coveredinclude:

(3)(A) methods ofcommunication between the parents;

(3)(B) responsibilityof each parent regarding decision-making and delivery of care;

(3)(C) methods ofresolving conflict or disagreement without child involvement;

(3)(D) ways inwhich the parents can support the child?s relationship with the other parent;

(3)(E) parentalagreement and consistency regarding the parents? expectations of the child anddiscipline techniques;

(3)(F) dates andtimes of pick-up and delivery;

(3)(G) parent-time during vacations andholidays;

(3)(H) method ofpick-up and delivery;

(3)(I) transportation to and from eachother?s home;

(3)(J) selection ofchild care and baby-sitting;

(3)(K) adherence tospecial diet, clothing, bedtime, and recreational requirements;

(3)(L) child?sparticipation in recreational and other activities with each parent;

(3)(M) notificationof other parent when surrogate care is needed;

(3)(N) selection ofsurrogate care;

(3)(O) alterationsin the parent time schedule;

(3)(P) participationof relatives and friends during parent-time;

(3)(Q) execution ofdaily routines;

(3)(R) adherence toconditions for parent-time (e.g., supervision by a third party, drugmonitoring, etc.);

(3)(S) schoolattendance;

(3)(T) selection ofschool;

(3)(U) access toinformation about the child (e.g., from school, physician);

(3)(V) step-parent issues;

(3)(W) administrationof medication; and

(3)(X) any otherissues as agreed upon by the parties.

(4) Qualifications. To be eligible to serveas a parent coordinator, the person must have the following minimum qualifications:

(4)(A) Social workers who have completedgraduate level coursework in child development and hold the designation ofLicensed Clinical Social Worker in this state.

(4)(B) Doctoral level psychologists who havecompleted graduate level coursework in child development and are licensed as apsychologist in this state.

(4)(C) Physicians who have completedgraduate level coursework in child development, are board certified inpsychiatry, and are licensed as a physician in this state.

(4)(D) Marriage and family therapists whohave completed graduate level coursework in child development and hold thedesignation of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in this state.

(4)(E) A court-appointed parent coordinatormust have:

(4)(E)(i) at least 3 years of post-licensure clinical practicesubstantially focused on child/marital/family therapy; and

(4)(E)(ii) aworking familiarity with child custody/parent-time law and the ethical issuesinvolved in custody matters.

(4)(F) Beginning in 2012, a court-appointedparent coordinator must have at least 18 hours of continuing education duringthe previous 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. Training should include thefollowing topics:

(4)(F)(i) conflict resolution theory and techniques;

(4)(F)(ii) mediation;

(4)(F)(iii) childdevelopment and psychology;

(4)(F)(iv) adjustmentto divorce;

(4)(F)(v) domesticrelations law;

(4)(F)(vi) dynamicsof domestic violence; and

(4)(F)(vii)associated safety and intervention considerations.

(4)(G) In areas of the state where there isa shortage of services, a professional who meets the requirements outlinedabove in (4)(A) ? (4)(D) may be appointed as a parent coordinator in up to 10cases before being required to meet the remaining qualifications.

(5) Impartiality.

(5)(A) A parent coordinator shall maintainimpartiality in the process of parenting coordination. Impartiality meansfreedom from favoritism or bias in word, action, or appearance, and includes acommitment to assist all parties, as opposed to any one individual.

(5)(B) A parent coordinator shall withdrawif the parent coordinator determines he or she cannot act in an impartial orobjective manner.

(5)(C) A parent coordinator shall neithergive nor accept a gift, favor, loan or other item of value from any partyhaving an interest in the parenting coordination process. During the parentingcoordination process, a parent coordinator shall not solicit or otherwiseattempt to procure future professional services or positions from which theparent coordinator may profit.

(5)(D) A parent coordinator shall not coerceor improperly influence any party to make a decision.

(5)(E) A parent coordinator shall notintentionally or knowingly misrepresent or omit any material fact, law orcircumstance in the parenting coordination process.

(5)(F) A parent coordinator shall not acceptany engagement, provide any service or perform any act outside the role ofparent coordinator that would compromise the parent coordinator?s integrity orimpartiality in the parenting coordination process.

(6) Conflict of interest.

(6)(A) A parent coordinator shall not servein a matter that presents a clear conflict of interest.

(6)(B) A conflict of interest arises whenany relationship between the parent coordinator and the participants or the subjectmatter of the dispute compromises or appears to compromise a parentcoordinator?s impartiality.

(6)(C) A parent coordinator shall disclosepotential conflicts of interest to the parties and counsel of record as soon aspractical after a parent coordinator becomes aware of the interest orrelationship giving rise to the potential conflict.

(6)(D) Afterappropriate disclosures, the parent coordinator may serve with the writtenagreement of all parties and, if court ordered, the approval of the court. However,if a conflict of interest clearly impairs a parent coordinator?s impartiality,the parent coordinator shall withdraw regardless of the expressed agreement ofthe parties.

(6)(E) During the parenting coordinationprocess, a parent coordinator shall not create a conflict of interest byproviding any services to interested parties that are not directly related tothe parenting coordination process.

(6)(F) A parent coordinator may makereferrals to other professionals to work with the family, but shall avoidactual or apparent conflicts of interest by referrals. No commissions, rebates,or similar remuneration shall be given or received by a parent coordinator forparenting coordination or other professional referrals.

(7) Dual roles.

(7)(A) A parent coordinator shall not servein dual sequential roles.

(7)(B) A parent coordinator shall not servein multiple roles in a case that creates a professional conflict.

(7)(B)(i) Amediator or custody evaluator shall be cautious about becoming a parentcoordinator in the same case, even with the consent of the parties, because ofthe differences in the role and potential impact of the role change.

(7)(B)(ii) A parent coordinator shall notbecome a custody evaluator either during or after the term of a parent coordinator?sinvolvement with the family.

(7)(B)(iii) A parent coordinator shall notbe appointed after serving as a therapist or consultant or serve in anothermental health role to any family member.

(7)(B)(iv) A parentcoordinator shall not become a therapist or consultant or serve in any othermental health role to any family member, either during or after the term of theparent coordinator?s involvement.

(7)(C) In some contexts (rural communities)it may not be possible to avoid multiple relationships between the parentcoordinator and the family involved in parent coordination, attorneys for thecase or the judge involved in the proceedings. In these cases the parentcoordinator shall disclose to relevant parties any relationships that mightlikely lead to impaired objectivity or decreased competence and effectiveness.The parent coordinator shall inform relevant parties of the potential negativeconsequences of such multiple relationships and seek to minimize theseconsequences by either withdrawing or limiting the tasks they agree toundertake.

(8) Communications and confidentiality.

(8)(A) All suggestions made to the partiesshould occur in joint sessions.

(8)(B) Bearing in mind that the role of aparent coordinator is not primarily investigative, the parent coordinator may,nevertheless, communicate with the guardian ad litem attorney, if one isappointed, but shall only communicate with any third persons (includingteachers, physicians, clergy, therapists or other extended family members) withthe express written permission of both parties and only to the extent necessaryto obtain information that the parties agree can be most reliably obtained inthat fashion. The parent coordinator may meet and/or interview the childrenwith the express written permission of the parents or the guardian ad litemattorney (if appointed) as part of the consultation process if the parentcoordinator believes that such action will aid in issuing appropriatesuggestions.

(8)(C) Unless otherwise agreed by theparties, all oral or written communications between the parent coordinator andthe parties, other than a formal parenting plan and the quarterly status report, are deemed confidential and may not be releasedunless agreed to by both parties.

(8)(D) Nothing in this rule excusesmandatory reporting requirements pursuant to Utah law, federal law, and/orother professional reporting requirements.

(9) Agreements and enforcement.

(9)(A) Any formal parenting plan agreed toby the parties and drafted by the parent coordinator shall be reduced to awritten document and forwarded to the parties, their attorneys, and theguardian ad litem attorney (if one is appointed).

(9)(B) Parent coordinators shall notify the courtof the status of the parent coordinator process, on a form provided by thecourt, at three month intervals or earlier upon termination.