(a) Generally. On a party’s motion or on its own, the court may conduct an in camera interview with a minor child who is the subject of a legal decision-making or parenting time dispute to ascertain the child’s preferences as to both.
(b) Definition of “Court.” As used in this rule, “court” includes any Conciliation Services department, agency, or other third-party professional ordered by the assigned judge to conduct a child interview under A.R.S, § 25-405 or these rules. This definition excludes court-appointed advisors under Rule 10.1 and experts hired by the parties.
(c) Record of the Interview.
(1) Generally. Unless the parties stipulate otherwise on the record or in writing, the court must record the interview, either by having a court reporter transcribe it or by recording it through another retrievable and perceivable electronic medium. However, any interview conducted by a judicial officer must be recorded.
(2) Sealing. For good cause and after considering the child’s best interests, the court may seal from the public all or part of the record of the interview.
(3) Availability to the Parties. The parties may stipulate that the court not provide them with a record of the interview. If a party makes a request for recording, the court must make the record available to the parties not later than 14 days before the hearing at which the court will consider the interview, unless the court finds good cause for a different deadline.
(d) Special Precautions.
(1) General Conduct of the Interview. In conducting an in camera interview with a child, the court must take special care to protect the child from embarrassment and must not repeat questions unnecessarily. The court also must take special care to state questions in a form appropriate to the child’s age and intellectual capacity.
(2) Disclosures. The court must inform the child in an age-appropriate manner:
(A) about the process by which the court will make a decision;
(B) about the limitations on the confidentiality of the child’s communications with the court;
(C) that information the child provides to the court may be on the record;
(D) that information the child provides to the court will be provided to the parties in the case unless the parties have stipulated otherwise; and
(E) that whatever the child says will be considered but will not alone be determinative of the issues of legal decision-making and parenting time.
(3) Child’s Preference. In the process of listening to and inviting the child’s input, the court must allow, but may not require, the child to state a preference regarding legal decision-making and parenting time.