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What is the role of a “minor’s counsel” in contentious divorces?

On Behalf of | Sep 22, 2023 | Firm News |

The child’s best interests are the centerpiece of every custody and visitation case. However, a minor child with a still developing mind often needs someone to articulate their wishes in high-conflict situations.

Generally appointed by the court or sought by either parent, a “minor’s counsel” is a trained professional who can represent the child during intense courtroom proceedings. Knowing the significance of their role can help reduce tensions and move the divorce process forward.

Understanding their rights and responsibilities

Per California law, a minor’s counsel can exercise their right to access the child reasonably. Such authority means they can retrieve the child’s health and school records as tools for contextualizing the child’s needs. In the same vein, they also have the right to interview medical professionals and school personnel for additional information on how to uphold the child’s welfare.

One of their primary responsibilities is to gather evidence that they can present to the court on behalf of the child. Doing so means they must fulfill the following tasks:

  • Interview the child privately
  • Introduce and cross-examine witnesses
  • Analyze all court and other relevant records
  • Conduct further investigations to establish the facts of the case
  • Consider the child’s preference without requiring them to testify in court

As the child’s voice in court, a minor’s counsel must also maintain constant communication with the child in an age-appropriate manner, or without overwhelming them mentally or emotionally.

Advocating for the child

A high-conflict divorce hearing tends to be an emotional experience. A minor’s counsel protects the child from such a traumatic exposure while ensuring that the child has a say on issues centered on their future.