Parent and Child-Parent Coordinators and the Unlawful Delegation of Authority

Judges at the Probate & Family Court possess the authority, under appropriate circumstances, can appoint a parent coordinator to resolve child related matters (custody and visitation)-those matters which were made a part of and agreed to in the parties divorce agreement. However, as the Supreme Court (SJC) recently ruled, that authority is not unlimited. In the case Bower v. Bournay, the SJC ruled that a judge had abused his authority by granting the coordinator "binding decision-making authority" without the consent of the parties thereby impeding the right of judicial review of the coordinators binding decision. The judge's delegation of such unlimited and binding authority to the coordinator was in fact an "unlawful delegation of judicial decision making authority". Nonetheless, the court recognized the important role that parent coordinators can play in helping parents post-divorce. It encourages resolution of disputes by the parties with less court intervention.