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Minor’s Counsel 101

Posted by Mattis Law, A.P.C. on April 10, 2023 in Child Custody

A working woman is visited by a child at her desk as they look at her computer. Horizontal shot.

Minors usually do not testify in child custody cases in California. Instead of having children speak in court or directly to a judge, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the child’s interests in a family law case. Minor’s counsel is designed to provide a neutral voice for the child without pressuring the child to favor one parent over another or in any way compromising the well-being of the child.

What Is Minor’s Counsel?

Minor’s counsel is court-appointed. If there is more than one child involved in a family law case, the court may appoint separate counsel for each child. It is the responsibility of Minor’s Counsel to learn everything they can about the best interests of the child they represent, including their:

  • Health
  • Safety
  • Welfare

The information they gather will come from a variety of sources, including their therapists, parents, and doctors. They may also review the child’s psychological evaluations, if applicable, as well as their medical records.

When Is Minor’s Counsel Appointed?

Not every family law case requires a Minor’s Counsel. A Minor’s Counsel is most commonly appointed in cases that involve:

Only the court is able to appoint Minor’s Counsel, but this appointment can be requested by the parents, the child, an attorney, or a family member. If a child is over the age of 18, Minor’s Counsel cannot be appointed as courts would lose jurisdiction under these circumstances.

If Minor’s Counsel is appointed and the parents lack the funds to pay, the court can order the county to pay. In cases where parents can afford to pay for Minor’s Counsel, they can negotiate how they wish to split the expense.

What Does a Minor’s Counsel Do?

Those acting as Minor’s Counsel have many important responsibilities. After all, they are required to essentially keep the best interests of the child in mind as they evaluate their life and needs. In addition to speaking to the child’s health care providers and parents, Minor’s Counsel duties also include:

  • Conducting interviews with anyone else involved in the child’s life
  • Attending court hearings and mediation sessions
  • Reviewing and analyzing evidence related to the case
  • Making recommendations to the court that are in the best interests of the child

How Can a Minor’s Counsel Help?

Minor’s counsel provides a voice for a child in court during particularly challenging and high-conflict cases to ensure that their interests are represented and heard. Given the access Minor’s Counsel has to a child’s life, a judge will give a considerable amount of weight to their report when rendering a decision in a family law case. Minor’s counsel can also help minimize conflict between the parties involved, fostering greater cooperation in what could otherwise be a highly contentious situation.

Request Minor’s Counsel for Your San Diego Family Law Case

If you are in the middle of a family law case that is contentious and you have a child, you should consider requesting Minor’s Counsel for your child to ensure their best interests are represented in court. Hiring Minor’s Counsel can ensure your child has a voice in court and help your case reach a resolution. At Mattis Law, A.P.C. in San Diego, we can provide Minor’s Counsel in your family law case. Amelia was named among the 10 Best Female Family Law Attorneys in 2020 and frequently represents some of the most difficult cases that other firms refuse. Reach out to our law office today at (858) 328-4400 to schedule a free initial consultation and get started on your case.

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Posted in: Child Custody

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