April 15, 2020 Cynthia 0 Comments

Three Types of Representatives for Children in Divorce and Other Matters

A court will often appoint an attorney to represent the interests of children in family law matters.  The court can make such an appointment in all matters involving children, including any proceedings involving the support, custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child.

In these cases, the court may, on its own motion or that of any party, appoint an attorney to serve in one of the following capacities to address issues specified by the court:

  • An Attorney for the child
  • A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
  • A Child Representative

In making the determine of what type of representation to appoint for the child the court will consider the facts presented by the parties and the availability of other methods of obtaining information, including social service organizations and evaluations by mental health professionals, as well as resources for payment of the appointed attorney.

Below is a brief overview of the three types of representation. 

Court Appointed Child's Attorney

An appointed child’s attorney provides independent legal counsel for the child and owes the same duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation as are due an adult client.

Court Appointed Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) testifies or submits a written report to the court regarding his or her recommendations in accordance with the best interest of the child. The report is made available to all parties.

The GAL investigates the facts of the case and interview the child and the parties.

The GAL may be called as a witness for purposes of cross-examination regarding the GAL’s report or recommendations.

Court Appointed Child Representative

A child representative advocates what the child representative finds to be in the best interests of the child after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case.

The child representative meets with the child and the parties, investigate the facts of the case, and encourage settlement and the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution.

The child representative has the same authority and obligation to participate in the litigation as does an attorney for a party and has all the powers of investigation as does a guardian ad litem.

The child representative will consider, but  is not bound by, the expressed wishes of the child.

The child representative does not disclose confidential communications made by the child, except as required by law. The child representative does not render an opinion, recommendation, or report to the court and will not be called as a witness.  Instead, the child representative offers evidence-based legal arguments.

The child representative discloses their position as to what they intend to advocate in a pre-trial memorandum that parties have access to prior to trial.

The court and the parties may consider the position of the child representative for purposes of a settlement conference.

Who Pays for the Representation of a Child in Divorce?

The parties pay for the representation of a child in cases involving the support, custody, visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities, education, parentage, property interest, or general welfare of a minor or dependent child.  The amount a party pays depends on their financial situation as disclosed to the court.

The court will enter an order for costs, fees, and disbursements, including a retainer, when the attorney, guardian ad litem, or child’s representative is appointed. The appointed person is required to file and obtain Court approval of their invoices every 90 days.  The court will review the invoice and approve the fees, if they are reasonable and necessary.

The Court will then issue an order approving fees and will require payment by one or both of the parties or from the parties’ marital estate.

Integrate Legal Can Help

It is important that you hire a family law attorney to represent your interests in a divorce or custody proceeding and make sure your children are protected. Set up a free consultation with me at Integrate Legal to review your specific facts and circumstances.

Integrate Legal

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Integrate Legal, PC or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Court Appointed Attorneys For Children in Divorce was last modified: April 15th, 2020 by Cynthia