The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently decided a case on the issue of whether the Court may appoint a Parenting Coordinator (PC). In the Bower v. Bournay-Bower matter the Court appointed a PC over one of the party’s objections and provided the PC with the authority to make binding decision on matters of custody and parenting time. The SJC found that the Court had exceeded its judicial authority and that the authority charged by the PC was an improper delegation of judicial authority.
The Court did find that the Court possess the “inherent authority to appoint parent coordinators in appropriate circumstances”, but that in the this case the appointment exceeded the bounds of that authority.
There is presently no statute or court rule that governs the selection and appointment of a PC. Parties interested in an alternative to a Guardian Ad Litem have to enter into an agreement relative to the appointment of a PC.
The SJC urged the Probate and Family Court to enact a rule governing the appointment of parenting coordinators. I envision that the Court will enact a set of guidelines and procedures similar to that employed to select Guardian Ad Litems. This will allow families another tool to help resolve their disputes.
I wish you all the best,
Scafidi, Juliano & Hurd, LLP
310 Washington Street, Suite 201
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481
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