January 8, 2014 By Paul Wallin

Minor's counsel is a term used when a private attorney is appointed to represent the best interest of a minor child in family law a proceeding such as a dissolution of marriage. An attorney designated to be minor’s counsel can be appointed by the court on its own motion, or upon the request of either parent or, in some cases, a mediator. An attorney so designated only represents the interest of the child and is not concerned with the interest of either parent in the case.

Benefits of Minor's Counsel

minor's counsel
Minor’s counsel will always represent the best interest of the child.

Because minor’s counsel only represents the interests of the child, there are some times where recommendations from minor’s counsel conflict with the interests and expectations of the parents. Nonetheless, the appointment of minor’s counsel can be a valuable tool in determining what the court believes is in the best interest of the child. The appointment of minor’s counsel can also be helpful when one parent is supportive of the child’s needs while the other parent ignores them and/or has ideas that are not in tune with the child’s best interest. This could include a past history of drug addiction or criminal behavior.

Can I Choose Who Will Be Appointed as the Lawyer for My Child?

In some high conflict dissolution cases or in cases in which there is concern over the parenting skills of the parents and/or their ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child, the appointment of an attorney to solely represent the child may be warranted. California Family Code Section 3150 gives the court the authority to make such an appointment.

In determining whether or not to appoint minor’s counsel, the court will have to decide that the best interest of the child can best be determined by having an attorney solely representing the interest of the child. In high conflict dissolution cases where the parties cannot or will not cooperate in providing the court a parenting plan that takes the child’s needs into consideration, the court may believe that a specific advocate for the child is needed to prepare a report that will benefit the child.

The Job of Minor's Counsel

Once appointed, minor’s counsel has special rights and responsibilities that are set forth in California Family Code Sections 3151, 3151.5 and 3152. The provisions of the family code enable minor’s counsel to do the following:

  • Have reasonable access to the child;
  • Standing to seek affirmative relief on behalf of the child;
  • Access to the child’s medical, dental, mental health and other health care records as well as school and educational records;
  • The right to interview school personnel, caretakers, health care providers, mental health professionals and others who have assessed the child or provided care to the child;
  • The right to seek independent psychological or physical examination of evaluation of the child for purposes of pending proceedings, upon approval of the court.

Minor’s counsel is usually expected to prepare a written report for the court setting forth the various issues, contentions of the parties, the child’s wishes and the result of the larger investigation into what he believes is in the best interest of the child. The report and recommendation is usually available to all parties unless the judge desires that it be kept confidential.

Call the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

If you are facing a difficult family law matter and your child is involved, the experienced family law attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are here to help. Our skilled attorneys can help you achieve the best possible result for you and your child. We have over 30 years of experience successfully representing persons in family law matters and we are can help you.

With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance and Sherman Oaks, a Wallin & Klarich family law attorney is available near you no matter where you are located.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

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