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About Counsel For Children in California Divorce and Custody Cases

Posted by : on Sep 24,2020 11:40 PM

The California family court can appoint private counsel who will represent the child’s interest in custody or visitation proceedings. In appointing and terminating a counsel for the child, the court must issue written orders. The minor’s counsel will be different and independent from the attorneys representing the other parties in the case. The court may appoint the private counsel on its own initiative. Alternatively, any of the following persons may request the court for the appointment of a counsel for the child:

 ·        A party
·         The attorney for the party.

  • ·         The child or any relative of the child.
·         A mediator.
·         A custody evaluator.
·         A court-appointed guardian ad litem or special advocate.
·       A county counsel, district attorney, city attorney, or city prosecutor authorized to prosecute child abuse and neglect or child abduction cases under state law.
·         Any other person who the court deems appropriate.

Factors to be Considered

The court should determine several factors in deciding whether to appoint minor's counsel to represent the child. A proceeding in which the issue of child custody and visitation are highly contested or protracted is a relevant factor to be considered, in addition to the child's stress because of the dispute.

The court also considers if there is relevant information that only a private counsel for the child can provide or present. An important factor is allegations of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse involved in the dispute.

The fact that the parents are incapable of providing a stable, safe and secure environment also factors in the court’s decision in appointing counsel for the child. 

The availability of counsel knowledgeable about the issues being raised and the child’s best interest also matters in the court’s determination to appoint a counsel.

Lastly, the court also considers, when there are two or more children, whether it would serve the child’s best interest to have separate counsel appointed. 

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