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Colorado Statutes/TITLE 14 DOMESTIC MATTERS/DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE - PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES/ARTICLE 10 UNIFORM DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE ACT/14-10-128.3. Appointment of decision-maker.
(1) In addition to the appointment of a parenting coordinator pursuant to section 14-10-128.1 or an arbitrator pursuant to section 14-10-128.5, at any time after the entry of an order concerning parental responsibilities and upon written consent of both parties, the court may appoint a qualified domestic relations decision-maker and grant to the decision-maker binding authority to resolve disputes between the parties as to implementation or clarification of existing orders concerning the parties' minor or dependent children, including but not limited to disputes concerning parenting time, specific disputed parental decisions, and child support. A decision-maker shall have the authority to make binding determinations to implement or clarify the provisions of a pre-existing court order in a manner that is consistent with the substantive intent of the court order. The decision-maker appointed pursuant to the provisions of this section may be the same person as the parenting coordinator appointed pursuant to section 14-10-128.1.
(2) The decision-maker's procedures for making determinations shall be in writing and shall be approved by the parties prior to the time the decision-maker begins to resolve a dispute of the parties. If a party is unable or unwilling to agree to the decision-maker's procedures, the decision-maker shall be allowed to withdraw from the matter.
(3) All decisions made by the decision-maker pursuant to this section shall be in writing, dated, and signed by the decision-maker. Decisions of the decision-maker shall be filed with the court and mailed to the parties or to counsel for the parties, if any, no later than twenty days after the date the decision is issued. All decisions shall be effective immediately upon issuance and shall continue in effect until vacated, corrected, or modified by the decision-maker or until an order is entered by a court pursuant to a de novo hearing under subsection (4) of this section.
(4) (a) A party may file a motion with the court requesting that a decision of the decision-maker be modified by the court pursuant to a de novo hearing. A motion for a de novo hearing shall be filed no later than thirty days after the date the decision is issued pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.
(b) If a court, in its discretion based on the pleadings filed, grants a party's request for a de novo hearing to modify the decision of the decision-maker and the court substantially upholds the decision of the decision-maker, the party that requested the de novo hearing shall pay the fees and costs of the other party and shall pay the fees and costs incurred by the decision-maker in connection with the request for de novo hearing, unless the court finds that it would be manifestly unjust.
(5) A court order appointing a decision-maker shall be for a specified term; except that the court order shall not appoint a decision-maker 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 decision-maker at any time for good cause. The court shall allow the decision-maker to withdraw at any time.
(6) A court order appointing a decision-maker shall include apportionment of the responsibility for payment of all of the decision-maker's fees between the parties. The state shall not be responsible for payment of fees to a decision-maker appointed pursuant to this section.
(7) (a) A decision-maker shall be immune from liability in any claim for injury that arises out of an act or omission of the decision-maker occurring during the performance of his or her duties or during the performance of an act that the decision-maker reasonably believed was within the scope of his or her duties unless the act or omission causing such injury was willful and wanton.
(b) Nothing in this subsection (7) shall be construed to bar a party from asserting a claim related to the reasonableness or accuracy of any fee charged or time billed by a decision-maker.
(c) (I) In a judicial proceeding, administrative proceeding, or other similar proceeding, a decision-maker 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 decision-maker'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 decision-maker is necessary to determine the claim of the decision-maker against a party; or
(B) To the extent testimony or production of records by the decision-maker is necessary to determine a claim of a party against a decision-maker; or
(C) When both parties have agreed, in writing, to authorize the decision-maker to testify.
(d) If a person commences a civil action against a decision-maker arising from the services of the decision-maker, or if a person seeks to compel a decision-maker to testify or produce records in violation of paragraph (c) of this subsection (7), and the court decides that the decision-maker is immune from civil liability or that the decision-maker is not competent to testify, the court shall award to the decision-maker reasonable attorney fees and reasonable expenses of litigation.
(8) The decision-maker shall comply with any applicable provisions set forth in chief justice directives and any other practice or ethical standards established by rule, statute, or licensing board that regulates the decision-maker.
Source: L. 2005: Entire section added, p. 954, § 1, effective June 2.
Law reviews. For article, "Privatizing Family Law Adjudications: Issues and Procedures", see 34 Colo. Law. 95 (August 2005). For article, "Parenting Coordinator: Understanding This New Role", see 35 Colo. Law. 31 (February 2006).