Yesterday, Judge Grant, the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts, announced that effective November 26, 2012, the Parenting Coordinator Pilot Program would be ending. The notice further provides that judges
An issue that has vexed us in the past is whether the rules enacted by the Supreme Court regarding parent coordinators were to be applied to all parent coordinators appointed by the Court. In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court implemented a pilot program in four vicinages (Bergen, Morris/Sussex, Union and Middlesex) for parenting coordinators. The link above provides the Supreme Court mandated guidelines and procedures which have also been discussed on this blog previously.
The problem arose when a parenting coordinator was appointed outside of one of those vicinages. To my chagrin, I have heard judges state and lawyers argue that since their vicinage was outside of the pilot program, they did not have to follow the guidelines. This was often in the context of a court improperly vesting a parent coordinator with authority which approached or could be argued to be an abdication of the judicial role.
Finally, we have an answer to this question in the reported (precedential) case of Milne v. Goldenberg decided on September 12, 2012. The case seems like a never ending, "war of the roses" type custody battle and also has some interesting discussion regarding the role of a Guardian ad Litem and procedures related thereto. That said, the parent coordinate issue was addressed because the court appointed an attorney who was not on the court approved, pilot program parenting coordinator list. Continue Reading Finally an Answer to the Question about whether the Supreme Court Guidelines Apply to Parent Coordinators appointed in Counties Outside of the Pilot Program