What Does a Child’s Attorney Do?
Custody cases have an element not shared by other court cases…children. Unless a skilled children’s attorney is appointed in high conflict cases, the children’s issues and needs can be swept aside by a heated dispute.
Everyone has their own opinion as to the appropriate role of an attorney for a child. I find that cases in which I am appointed are usually in big trouble when I come on board. I believe the number one rule for a child’s attorney is to move the case towards a result that sees to the best interests of the child-client. If the case is stuck in the mud and going nowhere, the child’s attorney must act as a catalyst to move it forward. If the parents are ferociously tearing at each other, the child’s attorney must calm the storm. If everyone is frustrated and out of ideas, the child’s attorney must help them think outside of the box. The child’s attorney must be willing to confront and educate the parents with regard to their responsibilities to the children. The child’s attorney must openly examine the situation as a whole and then communicate the child-client’s needs to everyone in a manner that they can understand.
Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the attorney may need to educate and assist the child in understanding the issues. In other cases, the child’s attorney may merely act as the child’s shield, fending off inappropriate behavior by others in the case.
If the child’s attorney is unable to work the parents’ disputes into a settlement, he must see that the trial judge hears all of the evidence that will assist the court in making the best decision possible regarding the children.