(a) Parents' Consent. If the parents consent, the district court may conduct an in chambers interview of a child in a proceeding to determine primary residential responsibility or parenting time. A parent is considered to have consented to an in chambers interview if the parent is voluntarily absent from the proceeding. The parents may not be present during the in chambers interview.
(b) Record. The court must make a record of the in chambers interview.
(c) Presence of Counsel. The district court must allow counsel to be present during the in chambers interview and may allow counsel to ask or submit questions.
(d) Access to Interview Record. In the event of an appeal, the district court retains jurisdiction to determine whether exceptional circumstances exist which endanger the safety of the child. If the court finds exceptional circumstances, the interview transcript will be available only to a reviewing court. If no appeal is taken, the district court may deny access to the transcript of the in chambers interview.
Rule 8.13 was adopted, effective March 1, 2012.
This rule is designed to establish a procedure for in chambers interviews in domestic relations cases that balances parental due process rights with a child's right to be heard.
For the purposes of subdivision (c), parties, with the court's approval, may waive the presence of counsel at the in chambers interview.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of April 28-29, 2011, pages 13-17; September 23-24, 2010, pages 27-32.
Considered: N.D.C.C. § 14-09-06.2.