Divorce and child custody issues are often complicated and stressful. It is not an easy task to separate your life from the life you built with a partner.
It can be equally difficult for children to process what is happening as their family divides. A minor’s counsel can give a voice to the needs of a child during visitation and custody proceedings.
What is a minor’s counsel?
A minor’s counsel is counsel appointed by the court to represent a child in custody or visitation hearings. They are often appointed in high-stress situations such as when the parents are unable to provide a safe environment or when there are accusations of neglect or abuse.
What does a minor’s counsel do?
Family court judges make decisions based on facts presented to them in a case. These facts are often based on the priorities and interests of the parents, not the children. A minor’s counsel will interview the child and investigate their needs to gather relevant information for the judge.
They will interview the child without either parent present to prevent any influence from either side. They will speak with teachers and doctors and review school and medical records for the child. Their purpose is to provide the family court judge with important information about the child that they would not otherwise be aware of, information that could affect the decisions they make. The health, safety and well-being of the child is their top priority.
In California, the court must consider the preference of the child in cases of custody and visitation. However, it is rare for a child to feel comfortable testifying in court in front of their parents due to guilt, intimidation or any number of other emotions children have difficulty processing. A minor’s counsel steps in to be their voice.