Paul E. and Courtney F. disagreed about the appropriate response to their child’s gender dysphoria. After a week-long trial, the judge issued an opinion awarding primary custody to the father, but also ordering that the child’s then-current therapist continue treating the child. The court also appointed an expert in the mental health of transgender children to advise the parties and the court about ongoing treatment. The Supreme Court remanded the matter back to the trial court to determine whether the circumstances met the standard announced in its opinion.
The father appealed, claiming that the trial judge did not have the authority to make those decisions. The Arizona Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the trial court, holding that family law judges cannot require that a custodial parent provide counseling for a child or appoint a specific counselor. That decision was vacated, in part, and remanded to the trial court by the Arizona Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that family law judges may limit a custodial parent’s authority when necessary to protect a child from harm, including by ordering that a child receive counseling, but that such orders must be narrowly tailored to the specific circumstances in each case. In this particular case, however, the Supreme Court found that the trial court’s order did not include the specific findings to support requiring the father to send the child to a particular therapist. The opinion remanded the matter back to the trial court to determine whether this case would satisfy that standard.
NCLR and Arizona attorneys Taylor Young of Mandel Young PLC and Steven Wolfson of Dickinson Wright PLLC represented Courtney F.