(1) Appointment. The presiding judge or a designee may appoint a conference officer to conduct conferences and facilitate agreements concerning the establishment, enforcement, and modification of child support, legal decision-making, or parenting time, and to affirm or divide property or determine and allocate responsibility for debts.
(2) Neutral. The conference officer is a neutral employee of the court and does not represent or advocate for either party.
(3) Qualifications. The superior court must establish and file written qualifications for the position of conference officer. At a minimum, a conference officer must have a bachelor’s degree and must abide by the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees. A conference officer also must have completed 40 hours of basic mediation training or must complete that training within 6 months of appointment.
(4) Applicability. A county is not required to use conference officers, but this rule applies if a county elects to use them.
(b) Report. After the conference concludes, the conference officer must prepare a report to the court listing the parties’ agreements or disagreements on the following issues: legal decision-making, parenting time, child support, property division, debt allocation, and attorney fees. The conference officer’s report must not contain recommendations concerning these issues.
(1) Conducting a Conference. The conference officer should conduct the proceedings in an informal manner but must give the parties an opportunity to present their positions. The conference officer may record the proceedings by audiotape or by a court reporter. A party represented by an attorney has the right to have the attorney present at the conference.
(2) Agreements. If the parties agree on issues raised during the conference, the conference officer may prepare a stipulation, consent decree, consent judgment, written agreement, or order for signature by the parties or their attorneys. If the parties are unable to agree on all issues, the conference officer may assist the parties in preparing a partial agreement and any documents necessary to effectuate that agreement. The conference officer must forward these documents to the assigned judge for approval and signature.
(3) Exceptions. A conference officer may not conduct a hearing required by statute, including a denial of parenting time, license suspension, UCCJEA, or establishment or modification of legal decision-making.
(d) Failure to Comply with an Order to Bring Information. If a party does not appear and participate or provide information at the conference as ordered, the conference officer may vacate the conference and report the failure to the court.