(1) Pursuant to the provisions of this section, at any time after the entry of an order concerning parental responsibilities and upon notice to the parties, the court may, on its own motion, a motion by either party, or an agreement of the parties, appoint a parenting coordinator as a neutral third party to assist in the resolution of disputes between the parties concerning parental responsibilities, including but not limited to implementation of the court-ordered parenting plan. The parenting coordinator shall be a neutral person with appropriate training and qualifications and an independent perspective acceptable to the court. Within seven days after the appointment, the appointed person shall comply with the disclosure provisions of subsection (2.5) of this section.
(2) (a) Absent agreement of the parties, a court shall not appoint a parenting coordinator unless the court makes the following findings:
(I) That the parties have failed to adequately implement the parenting plan;
(II) That mediation has been determined by the court to be inappropriate, or, if not inappropriate, that mediation has been attempted and was unsuccessful; and
(III) That the appointment of a parenting coordinator is in the best interests of the child or children involved in the parenting plan.
(b) In addition to making the findings required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), prior to appointing a parenting coordinator, the court may consider the effect of any claim or documented evidence of domestic violence, as defined in section 14-10-124 (1.3)(a), by the other party on the parties' ability to engage in parent coordination.
(2.5) (a) Within seven days after his or her appointment, the appointed person shall disclose to each party, attorneys of record, and the court any familial, financial, or social relationship that the appointed person has or has had with the child, either party, the attorneys of record, or the judicial officer and, if a relationship exists, the nature of the relationship.
(b) Based on the disclosure required pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.5), the court may, in its discretion, terminate the appointment and appoint a different person in the proceedings. A party has seven days from the date of the disclosure to object to the appointment based upon information contained in the disclosure. If a party objects to the appointment, the court shall appoint a different person or confirm the appointment within seven days after the date of the party's objection. If no party timely objects to the appointment, then the appointment is deemed confirmed.
(3) A parenting coordinator shall assist the parties in implementing the terms of the parenting plan. Duties of a parenting coordinator include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Assisting the parties in creating an agreed-upon, structured guideline for implementation of the parenting plan;
(b) Developing guidelines for communication between the parties and suggesting appropriate resources to assist the parties in learning appropriate communication skills;
(c) Informing the parties about appropriate resources to assist them in developing improved parenting skills;
(d) Assisting the parties in realistically identifying the sources and causes of conflict between them, including but not limited to identifying each party's contribution to the conflict, when appropriate; and
(e) Assisting the parties in developing parenting strategies to minimize conflict.
(4) (a) The court may not appoint a person pursuant to this section to serve in a case as a parenting coordinator if the person has served or is serving in the same case as an evaluator pursuant to section 14-10-127 or a representative of the child pursuant to section 14-10-116. After appointing a person pursuant to this section to serve as a parenting coordinator in a case, the court may not subsequently appoint the person to serve in the same case as an evaluator pursuant to section 14-10-127 or a representative of the child pursuant to section 14-10-116.
(b) The court may appoint a person who has served or is serving in a case as a child and family investigator pursuant to section 14-10-116.5 to serve in the same case as the parenting coordinator, upon the agreement of the parties. After appointing a person pursuant to this section to serve as a parenting coordinator in a case, the court may not subsequently appoint the person to serve as a child and family investigator in the same case pursuant to section 14-10-116.5.
(5) A court order appointing a parenting coordinator shall be for a specified term; except that the court order shall not appoint a parenting coordinator for a period of longer than two years. If an order fails to specify the length of the court-ordered appointment, it shall be construed to be two years from the date of appointment. Upon agreement of the parties, the court may extend, modify, or terminate the appointment, including extending the appointment beyond two years from the date of the original appointment. The court may terminate the appointment of the parenting coordinator at any time for good cause. The court shall allow the parenting coordinator to withdraw at any time.
(6) A court order appointing a parenting coordinator shall include apportionment of the responsibility for payment of all of the parenting coordinator's fees between the parties. The state shall not be responsible for payment of fees to a parenting coordinator appointed pursuant to this section.
(7) (a) A parenting coordinator appointed by the court pursuant to this section shall be immune from civil liability in any claim for injury that arises out of an act or omission of the parenting coordinator occurring on or after April 16, 2009, during the performance of his or her duties or during the performance of any act that a reasonable parenting coordinator would believe was within the scope of his or her duties unless the act or omission causing the injury was willful and wanton.
(b) Nothing in this subsection (7) shall be construed to bar a party from asserting a claim:
(I) Based upon a parenting coordinator's failure to comply with the provision set forth in subsection (8) of this section;
(II) Related to the reasonableness or accuracy of any fee charged or time billed by a parenting coordinator; or
(III) Based upon a negligent act or omission involving the operation of a motor vehicle by a parenting coordinator.
(c) (I) In a judicial proceeding, administrative proceeding, or other similar proceeding between the parties to the action, a parenting coordinator shall not be competent to testify and may not be required to produce records as to any statement, conduct, or decision that occurred during the parenting coordinator's appointment to the same extent as a judge of a court of this state acting in a judicial capacity.
(II) This paragraph (c) shall not apply:
(A) To the extent testimony or production of records by the parenting coordinator is necessary to determine a claim of the parenting coordinator against a party; or
(B) To the extent testimony or production of records by the parenting coordinator is necessary to determine a claim of a party against a parenting coordinator; or
(C) When both parties have agreed, in writing, to authorize the parenting coordinator to testify.
(d) If a person commences a civil action against a parenting coordinator arising from the services of the parenting coordinator, or if a person seeks to compel a parenting coordinator to testify or produce records in violation of paragraph (c) of this subsection (7), and the court determines that the parenting coordinator is immune from civil liability or that the parenting coordinator is not competent to testify, the court shall award to the parenting coordinator reasonable attorney fees and reasonable expenses of litigation.
(8) The parenting coordinator shall comply with any applicable provisions set forth in chief justice directives and any other practice or ethical standards established by rule, statute, guideline, or licensing board that regulates the parenting coordinator.
Source: L. 2005: Entire section added, p. 952, 1, effective June 2; (4)(b) amended, p. 963, 11, effective July 1. L. 2009: (7) and (8) amended, (SB 09-069), ch. 121, p. 502, 1, effective April 16. L. 2012: (1) and (2)(b) amended and (2.5) added, (SB 12-056), ch. 108, p. 369, 4, effective July 1.
Cross references: For the legislative declarations contained in the 2005 act amending subsection (4)(b), see sections 1 and 3 of chapter 244, Session Laws of Colorado 2005.
Law reviews. For article, "Privatizing Family Law Adjudications: Issues and Procedures", see 34 Colo. Law. 95 (Aug. 2005). For article, "Parenting Coordinator: Understanding This New Role", see 35 Colo. Law. 31 (Feb. 2006). For article, "A Brief Overview of Parenting Coordination", see 38 Colo. Law. 61 (July 2009).
This section does not permit the parenting coordinator to make decisions or resolve disputes that the parents are unable to resolve. A grant of decision-making authority to the parenting coordinator is contrary to subsection (3). In re Dauwe, 148 P.3d 282 (Colo. App. 2006).
This section and 13-22-313 are in conflict and cannot be harmonized with respect to the standards for the appointment of a parenting coordinator if abuse is alleged by one parent by the other. Although 13-22-313 bars the court from referring a case to any ancillary form of alternative dispute resolution if one of the parties claims abuse by the other party, under this section, a mere claim of abuse by one parent is insufficient to bar the appointment of a parenting coordinator. Even documented evidence of domestic violence does not automatically bar such an appointment. Rather, the court is required only to consider the effect of the evidence on the parties' ability to engage in parenting coordination. In re Rozzi, 190 P.3d 815 (Colo. App. 2008).
Court erred in directing that the parenting coordinator should assume the duties of a special master and follow the procedures set forth in C.R.C.P. 53. However, the court was proper in providing that the parenting coordinator may make nonbinding recommendations to the parties in the event that they are unable to resolve a dispute themselves. In re Rozzi, 190 P.3d 815 (Colo. App. 2008).