BILL SUMMARY for SB09-069
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Adopt prepared amendment L.005 (Attachment B). Th|
Refer Senate Bill 09-069, as amended, to the Commi
|Pass Without Objection|
02:44 PM -- Senate Bill 09-069
Representative McCann, sponsor, presented Senate Bill 09-069 concerning court-appointed parenting coordinators. This bill provides limited immunity from liability to a parenting coordinator who is acting in the scope of his or her duties, as long as the act or omission that caused the injury was not willful and wanton. The bill also clarifies when a parenting coordinator may be required to testify or produce records in a trial. Finally, in the event that a claim is filed against a parenting coordinator, the bill requires the court to award attorney fees and expenses to the parenting coordinator if a finding is made that the coordinator is immune from civil liability or that the coordinator is not competent to testify. Representative McCann distributed information about parenting coordination (Attachment A) and prepared amendment L.005 (Attachment B). She responded to questions from the committee about parenting coordination.
02:51 PM -- Amy Craig, representing herself, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Craig discussed her experience with a parenting coordinator in Colorado courts. She distributed a written statement (Attachment C) and read from her prepared remarks.
03:02 PM -- Janice Whitaker, representing herself, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Whitaker discussed her experience with a parenting coordinator in Colorado courts. She distributed a packet of information that included a timeline of the events in her case (Attachment D). Ms. Whitaker read a written statement that indicated that she was wrongly accused in her case and this bill would give parenting coordinators immunity from liability. She expressed frustration at the current system and standards for parenting coordination.
03:10 PM -- Judy Schure, representing herself, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Schure distributed research indicating that the majority of cases that go to court as "high conflict" contested custody cases have a history of domestic violence (Attachment E). She discussed her experience with parenting coordinators in Colorado courts. She talked about stated experts in the field of parental coordination and expressed her opinion that these experts are unqualified and insensitive with regard to domestic matters. She discussed training required for parental coordinators.
03:17 PM -- Annette Story, representing herself, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Story discussed her experience with a parenting coordinator in Colorado courts. She distributed a packet of e-mail messages relevant to her case (Attachment F). She expressed her opinion that many parenting coordinators are simply in the business for the money. She responded to questions from the committee about the details of her case.
03:20 PM -- Frances Fontana, representing herself, spoke in opposition to the bill. Ms. Fontana is a family law attorney. She talked about the necessity of immunity for individuals who perform judicial and quasi-judicial functions. She expressed her opinion that parenting coordinators do not perform quasi-judicial functions, but rather they act in a counseling-type role to divorced parents and their children. A parenting coordinator does not require any specific training or qualifications and judicial officers do not have the time to vet suggested parenting coordinators. She feels there is no oversight or accountability for the profession. While guidelines exist, there is currently no recourse for families who have problems with parenting coordinators. Ms. Fontana responded to questions from the committee about domestic cases in which parenting coordinators are used.
03:40 PM -- Adoree Blair, representing herself, spoke in support of the bill. Ms. Blair is a mediator and parenting coordinator. She discussed her experience in these roles and provided information about her rates. Parties do not use parenting coordinators if there is no need. She responded to questions from the committee about the value of a parenting coordinator in high conflict situations.
03:53 PM -- Betsy Duvall, representing herself, spoke in support of the bill. Ms. Duvall is a parenting coordinator and court-appointed arbitrator and decision-maker. She discussed her experience in the field. She expressed her opinion that parenting coordination is not a counseling role. It is more of an alternate dispute resolution role. Ms. Duvall spoke about training she conducts with a Colorado attorney on the subject of parenting coordinators. She distinguished between parenting coordinators and child and family investigators. She responded to questions from the committee about the practical role of parenting coordinators.
04:10 PM -- Theresa Spahn, Office of the Child's Representative, spoke in support of the bill. Ms. Spahn discussed her qualifications in the field of parenting coordinators. She spoke about the legislative history of the parenting coordinator statute. She stressed that this is a very limited role with no power. Parenting coordinators address simple decisions that help the family dynamic function in the case of a high conflict situation. Ms. Spahn addressed committee questions about immunity for individuals in this kind of role and accountability of parenting coordinators.
04:25 PM -- Alicia Davis, Colorado Judicial Department, appeared to respond to committee questions. Ms. Davis discussed published guidelines for parenting coordinators and a survey she sent to state judges about parenting coordinators. She explained the difference between Supreme Court guidelines and directives issued by the Chief Justice. Ms. Davis responded to questions about the minimum qualifications for individuals wishing to become parental coordinators.
04:37 PM -- Craig Eades, representing himself, spoke in support of the bill. Mr. Eades discussed his experience in the role of a parenting coordinator. He believes in the need for better coordination and accountability for parenting coordination services. He expressed his opinion that providing some protection for individuals who want to work with children will encourage more talented people to provide these services.
Representative McCann wrapped up her presentation of the bill and asked for a favorable recommendation.
|TIME: || 05:04:09 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer Senate Bill 09-069, as amended, to the Committee of the Whole with a favorable recommendation. The motion passed on a vote of 7-4.|
Final YES: 7 NO: 4 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS