Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure
Rule 74. Parenting Coordinator
(a) Purpose of a Parenting Coordination. Parenting coordination is a child-focused alternative dispute resolution process. The purpose for appointing a parenting coordinator is to protect and sustain safe, healthy, and meaningful parent-child relationships by:
(1) assisting parents with implementing and complying with their legal decision-making and parenting plan orders; and
(2) helping parents timely resolve conflicts that may arise concerning legal decision-making and parenting plans.
(b) Parents’ Agreement and Understandings.
(1) Appointment’s Timing and Conditions. The court may appoint a third party as a parenting coordinator in proceedings under A.R.S. Title 25 only after the court has entered a legal decision-making or parenting time order, and only if each parent has agreed to the appointment in writing or orally on the record in open court.
(2) Agreement’s Terms. The agreement must state that both parents:
(A) agree to be bound by decisions made by the parenting coordinator that fall within the scope of the parenting coordinator’s authority and that relate to issues submitted to the parenting coordinator for decision;
(B) understand the term of the parenting coordinator’s appointment;
(C) agree to release documents that the parenting coordinator determines are necessary for performing the parenting coordinator’s services;
(D) understand the method by which the parenting coordinator will be selected or the name of the agreed-upon parenting coordinator;
(E) understand how the parenting coordinator charges for services, including the parenting coordinator’s hourly rate;
(F) agree that the parents can afford the parenting coordinator’s services;
(G) understand how the parenting coordinator’s fees will be allocated between the parents; and
(H) acknowledge they have read Form 11, Rule 97 (“Parent Information Regarding the Use of Parenting Coordinators”).
(3) Option to Use Conciliation Services. Rather than having a privately paid parent coordinating, parents may request, or a court may appoint, if available, parenting coordination assistance through conciliation services. Parents obtaining parenting coordinator services through conciliation services must agree to subparts (b)(2)(A) through (C).
(c) Selection of a Parenting Coordinator.
(1) Who May Be Appointed. The following persons can serve as parenting coordinators:
(A) an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Arizona;
(B) a psychiatrist who is licensed to practice medicine or osteopathy in Arizona;
(C) a psychologist who is licensed to practice psychology in Arizona;
(D) a person who is licensed to practice independently by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners;
(E) professional staff of a court’s conciliation services department; or
(F) a person with education, experience, and expertise who is deemed qualified by the court’s presiding judge or a designee.
(2) Additional Requirements. The court can set additional requirements for service as a parenting coordinator.
(3) Disqualification from Later Participation in Another Role. A person appointed as a parenting coordinator may not serve in any other function or role in the case, except that each parent and the parenting coordinator may agree that a person who is serving or has already served in a legal, treatment, evaluative, or therapeutic role in the case may be appointed as the parenting coordinator.
(d) Term of Service.
(1) Generally. The parenting coordinator’s term will be designated in the appointment order.
(2) Initial Term. A parenting coordinator’s initial term cannot exceed one year, unless both parents and the parenting coordinator agree to a longer term.
(3) Reappointment. The parenting coordinator cannot be reappointed at the end of the term unless each parent and the parenting coordinator agree to the reappointment in writing or orally on the record in open court. By agreeing to the reappointment, the parents are reaffirming and accepting the agreements and understandings in subparts (b)(2)(A) through (G). The reappointment term cannot exceed one year unless both parents and the parenting coordinator agree to a longer term.
(4) Resignation. The parenting coordinator can resign by court order and following notice to each parent.
(5) Discharge. Both parents can agree to discharge the parenting coordinator. If only one parent wishes to discharge the parenting coordinator, that parent must file a motion with the court establishing good cause for the request. Disagreement with one or more of the parenting coordinator’s decisions does not constitute good cause.
(6) Replacement of the Parenting Coordinator. Both parents can agree in writing or orally on the record in open court to replace the existing parenting coordinator. The agreement to replace the parenting coordinator must also confirm the parents’ agreements and understandings in subparts (b)(2)(A) through (G).
(1) Generally. Parenting coordination is not a confidential process. Therefore, the following communications are not confidential:
(A) between each parent and the parenting coordinator;
(B) between the child and the parenting coordinator;
(C) between the parenting coordinator and other relevant parties to the parenting coordination process; and
(D) between the parenting coordinator and the court.
(2) Counsel’s Participation. An attorney for either parent cannot attend parenting coordinator meetings with their clients unless both parents and the parenting coordinator agree, or unless allowed by a court order. However, a parenting coordinator can meet separately with each parent’s attorney to obtain information relevant to the issue before the parenting coordinator.
(f) Scope of Appointment and Authority.
(1) Generally. The court appointment order must specify the scope of the parenting coordinator’s appointment and the parenting coordinator’s authority.
(2) Scope of Authority. A parenting coordinator’s scope of appointment can include:
(A) helping the parents:
(i) address disputed issues;
(ii) reduce misunderstandings;
(iii) clarify priorities;
(iv) explore possibilities for compromise;
(v) develop methods of collaboration in parenting; and
(vi) comply with legal decision-making authority and parenting time orders;
(B) making decisions regarding implementation and clarification of the court’s orders, including minor adjustments to parenting time orders;
(C) making decisions regarding parenting challenges not specified in the parenting plan that the parents are unable to resolve, such as disagreements about pick-up and drop-off locations, dates and times of pick-up and drop-off, holiday scheduling, discipline, health issues, personal care issues, school and extracurricular activities, choice of schools, and managing problematic behaviors;
(D) interviewing and requesting documentation from anyone who has relevant information necessary to resolve a matter currently before the parenting coordinator; and
(E) recommending that the court order the parents or their child to participate in ancillary services provided by the court or third parties, including but not limited to physical or psychological examinations or assessments, counseling, and alcohol or drug monitoring and testing.
(3) Facilitating Agreements. A parenting coordinator must attempt in a timely manner to facilitate agreement on disputed issues between the parents. If the parents are unable to reach agreement, the parenting coordinator will timely decide any disputed issues within the scope of the parenting coordinator’s authority.
(4) Limits on Authority. A parenting coordinator cannot make a decision that will:
(A) affect child support, spousal maintenance, or the allocation of property or debt;
(B) change legal decision-making authority; or
(C) substantially change parenting time.
(g) Emergency Authority and Procedure. If by personal observation the parenting coordinator determines that a parent’s functioning is impaired, and the parent is incapable of fulfilling either the court-ordered legal decision-making or parenting functions, or the parent’s conduct will expose the child to an imminent risk of irreparable harm, a parenting coordinator may file a motion for temporary orders without notice under Rule 48. The court must consider the motion even if a Rule 91 modification petition is not pending.
(1) Form. The parenting coordinator’s decision on an issue must be substantially in the form set forth in Form 9, Rule 97 (“Parenting Coordinator’s Report”).
(2) Transmission. The parenting coordinator must:
(A) mail or transmit the report to the assigned judge–but not the clerk–not later than 5 days after receipt of all information necessary to make a decision; and
(B) mail or transmit a copy of the report to each parent or the parent’s attorney on the same day it is mailed or transmitted to the assigned judge.
(i) Court Action.
(1) Receipt and Filing. The court, upon receipt of the parenting coordinator’s report, must file the report. If the report contains confidential or private information, it must be filed in a manner that prevents the public from accessing the report consistent with Rule 13(e).
(2) Action. Once the report has been filed, the court may:
(A) adopt the decision as an order of the court;
(B) reject the decision and the report entirely or partially as outside the scope of the parenting coordinator’s authority, and affirm all or part of the current court order; or
(C) set a hearing regarding the decision.
(3) Form of Order. For the purposes of acting on a report, the court’s order may be substantially similar to the form set forth in Form 10, Rule 97 (“Order Regarding Parenting Coordinator’s Report”).
(1) Binding Nature of the Decision. The parenting coordinator’s decision is binding if the parenting coordinator acted within the coordinator’s authority under this rule and the appointment order.
(2) Objection. If a parent believes that the parenting coordinator’s decision exceeds the scope of the parenting coordinator’s authority, the parent may object to the parenting coordinator’s decision by filing an objection. The objection must be filed not later than 20 days after the parenting coordinator’s report is filed. The objection must explain in detail the reasons why the parent believes the parenting coordinator exceeded the coordinator’s authority, and whether the parent is requesting a hearing on the objection.
(3) Court Action on an Objection. If either parent files an objection, any court action will remain in effect pending resolution of the objection.
(1) Disclosure of Fees. The parenting coordinator must fully disclose all fees and charges to each parent before providing services. A parenting coordinator may not increase the parenting coordinator’s hourly rate during a term of appointment.
(2) Adjustment to Allocation of Fees. Both parents may agree to a change in the allocation of fees by amending their written agreement with the parenting coordinator. Without the parents’ agreement, a parenting coordinator may not reallocate fees based on a change in a parent’s financial circumstances.
(3) Sanctions and Reallocation of Fees.
(A) Recommendation. If reason exists to believe that one parent is using parenting coordinator services excessively or to harass the other parent, a parenting coordinator or a parent may recommend, as a sanction, an adjustment to the allocation of the parenting coordinator’s fees. Any recommendation must be filed with the court and must explain the reasons for the recommended fee reallocation.
(B) Transmission. The recommendation must be provided to each parent or the parent’s attorney if filed by the parenting coordinator, and if filed by a parent, the parent must provide it to the parenting coordinator and the other parent or the other parent’s attorney.
(C) Objection. A parent may file an objection to the recommendation but must do so not later than 20 days after the recommendation is filed.
(D) Hearing. If an objection is filed, the court must hold a hearing before it may reallocate fees.
(l) Immunity. The parenting coordinator has immunity in accordance with Arizona law as to all acts taken under and consistent with the court’s appointment order.
(m) Complaints about Unethical or Unprofessional Conduct by Parenting Coordinators. Complaints about alleged unethical or unprofessional conduct by the parenting coordinator should be submitted to the parenting coordinator’s applicable licensing or regulatory board. If the parenting coordinator is not subject to a licensing or regulatory board, the complaint should be brought to the court’s attention.
(n) Applicability. No court is required to employ or use a parenting coordinator, but if it does so, these rules apply.