Generally, parents in California have the intention of acting in the best interest of their children even while in the midst of a divorce. However, some parents may be unwilling or unable to give consideration to their child’s interests due to high conflict or other issues. The court can appoint an attorney to serve as minor’s counsel if it feels it would better serve the child’s interests.
According to FindLaw, the role of minor’s counsel is to objectively determine what is in the child’s best interests and then advocate for those interests using a neutral voice. The court is likely to give a lot of weight to the statements that minor’s counsel presents to the court because minor’s counsel does not represent either parent or have a stake in the divorce proceedings.
The California Rules of Court state that a number of different parties have the right to request minor’s counsel on behalf of a child. Examples include the following:
- Court-appointed guardians
- Either parent
- The child
- A relative of the child
The court can also appoint minor’s counsel based on its own motion.
When deciding whether to appoint minor’s counsel, the court may take several factors into consideration. The appointment of minor’s counsel may alleviate undue stress on the child as a result of the dispute. A child may suffer stress as a result of a protracted or highly contested dispute between his or her parents over visitation and child custody.
The court may decide to appoint minor’s counsel if it feels that neither parent may be capable of providing an environment for the child that is safe, secure and stable. This may be the case if there are allegations of child abuse or neglect.