In California custody cases, a court may appoint counsel to a minor. The counsel is separate from the parents’ respective attorney and advocates on behalf of the minor child. If the case involves more than one child, then each individual may have his or her own attorney advocating as a neutral party for his or her case.
According to the California Rules of Court, to appoint counsel to a minor, there are guidelines that the court must follow. One of the first considerations in whether a child needs his or her own advocate involves the stress and volatility of the custody battle. A highly contested custody battle will more likely have counsel appointed to the child. If the fight puts the child in unnecessary stress that counsel may alleviate, the court considers it. Any allegations of abuse towards either parent require a neutral party to stand on behalf of the minor.
If there is any reason to suspect that one of the parents will not offer a stable environment, it is in the best interest of the minor to have someone to speak for him or her. The courts concern themselves with the welfare of the child.
For children with special circumstances, there are attorneys with experience in specialized areas. For instance, counsel may need to have experience in the following areas:
- Child abuse
- Parental drug abuse or child drug abuse
- Domestic violence
- Child medical issues
- Child or parent mental health issues
While a court may have a list of counsel available for minors, if a child falls under any special circumstance, the court may deviate to find the appropriate lawyer.
This information provides education on minor’s counsel and is not legal advice.