Parent Coordinator in Massachusetts Divorce
I have never heard of a parent coordinator or read of one in any case I have perused since 1995. At best I have read of "supervised visits" in some situations.
This PC has NO statutory definition and no statutory requirements? There is no license required for such a professional, is there?
Who tests and qualifies these PC's? What is their authority to do these tests?
Mmike, you do not hae to PAY anything because of the rule below. PC's are voluntary!!
OK. I looked in the statues and found the following:
AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE APPOINTMENT OF PARENTING COORDINATORS IN THE PROBATE COURTS
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
Chapter 215 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding after section 56B the following new section:-
56C. Parenting coordinator.
The Probate and Family Court may appoint a parenting coordinator as provided in this section in cases filed pursuant to Chapter 208, 209, 209C and in other actions before the Probate and Family Court relating to care and custody of a minor child or children, except for actions filed pursuant to Chapter 209A
As used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:
Appointment list: a list of professionals used by the court for appointment of parenting coordinators. The Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court shall establish qualifications of a parenting coordinator and shall establish and maintain an appointment list of persons qualified to serve as parenting coordinators. When the court appoints a parenting coordinator, the parenting coordinator shall be selected from the appointment list, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
Domestic violence: abuse as defined in Chapter 209A, section 1.
Indigent: as used in this section “indigent” shall have the same meaning as provided in Chapter 261, Section 27A.
Parenting coordinator: a neutral person appointed upon written consent of the parties to assist the parties in addressing disputed child related issues. Appointment of a parenting coordinator does not divest the court of its exclusive jurisdiction over entry and enforcement of orders related to the parties and any child. The parenting coordinator has no authority to modify child custody orders of the court. The parenting coordinator’s duties and scope of authority shall be set forth in the order of appointment. When a child related issue is disputed, the parenting coordinator shall first attempt to facilitate agreement between the parties, but absent agreement, the parenting coordinator shall resolve the contested issue. After a decision by the parenting coordinator, either party may, by motion, submit the disputed issue for de novo review by the court. Notwithstanding a motion filed by a party, the interim decision of the parenting coordinator shall remain in effect until the court enters an order. The parenting coordinator shall not file a report.
(b) Appointment of a parenting coordinator.
Any written agreement approved by the court shall:
(1) provide that the parties agree to appointment of a parenting coordinator;
(2) designate responsibility for payment for the parenting coordinator services between the parties;
(3) delineate the scope of authority;
(4) set forth the duration of the appointment;
(5) set forth the process for terminating or modifying the appointment of the parenting coordinator;
(6) set forth the process for obtaining judicial review of a parenting coordinator decision; and
(7) acknowledge that the court may not appoint a parenting coordinator or order any party to pay for services of a parenting coordinator unless each party agrees.
(c) Duration of appointment. An order appointing a parenting coordinator shall be for a term certain and the term shall not exceed one year. The court may set a hearing date that occurs while the case is pending or after entry of a judgment to review the parenting coordinator appointment order. At a hearing on review of the order, the appointment may be extended for a time certain up to one year if the parties agree to extension of the appointment.
(d) Payment for parenting coordinator services. The parties will execute a fee agreement with the parenting coordinator that sets forth the parenting coordinator’s fee or hourly rate. If a party is indigent, he or she shall not be ordered to pay for services of a parenting coordinator.
(e) Termination and modification of appointment. Upon motion of the parenting coordinator, the parties or a party, the court may terminate the appointment of the parenting coordinator for good cause. Good cause includes, but is not limited to a party’s or the parties’ substantially reduced ability to pay for a parenting coordinator, the parties’ agreement to terminate the appointment, or a history of past or present domestic violence which puts the victimized parent or child at risk of physical or emotional harm, causes said parent to be in fear of physical harm, or interferes with the victimized parent’s ability to participate in and benefit from the parent coordinator process.
(f) Judicial review of parenting coordinator decisions. If a party is aggrieved by a decision of the parenting coordinator, the party may a file a motion for de novo review of the disputed issue. Any decision of a parenting coordinator is subject to de novo review by the Probate and Family Court on motion of a party while an order or judgment providing for appointment of a parenting coordinator is in effect.
(g) Rules, Standards and Mandatory Training.
The Probate and Family Court shall establish a mandatory training program for parenting coordinators and issue standards of practice for parenting coordinators. The court shall promulgate rules or standards of practice governing the appointment and use of parenting coordinators within one year of the effective date of this section.
(h) Quasi-judicial officer. A parenting coordinator appointed by the court shall be a quasi-judicial officer with authority to act within the scope of the order of appointment during the designated term of service.
SECTION 2. Section 20 of chapter 233 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-
Section 20 M. Parenting coordinator privileged communications.
As used in this section a “parenting coordinator” means a person appointed by the Probate and Family Court pursuant to section 56C of Chapter 251.
In any court proceeding and in any proceeding preliminary thereto and in legislative and administrative proceedings, a party shall have the privilege of refusing to disclose and of preventing a parenting coordinator from disclosing any communication or work product prepared by a parenting coordinator.
Section 51A of Chapter 119 of the General Laws is amended by inserting the words “parenting coordinator” between the words “probation officer” and the words “clerk/magistrate of the district courts” in the first sentence.