Custody cases can be difficult and filled with emotion. Despite being the subject of any custody hearing, children are rarely allowed to testify during custody cases in California.
In order to make their voices heard, the court appoints a Minor’s Counsel to represent children under the age of 18 in custody matters before the court.
What is the role of a Minor’s Counsel?
The Minor’s Counsel’s sole interest is the well-being of the child they represent. They are attorneys appointed by the court to serve as a neutral voice for the child. In most cases, the Minor’s Counsel continues to represent the child through all custody proceedings until the child reaches the age of 18.
What does the Minor’s Counsel do?
The Minor’s Counsel gathers as much information about the child’s life as possible. They speak to the child, the parents, teachers, therapists, doctors and anyone else with relevant information about the child’s health, safety and welfare. Using this information, they speak for the child in any hearing regarding custody, modifications or visitation.
How does the child benefit from having a Minor’s Counsel?
By speaking on behalf of the child in all custody matters, a Minor’s Counsel prevents the child from having to side with one parent over the other. When the child speaks with the Minor’s Counsel, they do so without either parent so that they may speak freely. The Minor’s Counsel protects the child’s best interests, rights, health, emotional well-being and safety during all hearings.
To ensure the protection of all children’s rights, the court may pay the fees for the Minor’s Counsel in cases where the parents cannot afford the cost.