In San Francisco and elsewhere in California, minors generally do not testify in court or speak directly to the judge in child custody cases. As a result, California courts typically appoint a minor's counsel who will be tasked with interviewing the child about their concerns and whether they have a preference to live primarily with one parent or the other (if they're old enough to do so). The role of a minor's counsel is to advocate on behalf of a child. In addition, the minor's counsel acts as a fact finder since they learn about the child's best interests including the health, safety, and welfare of the child. The minor's counsel needs to be this voice without compromising the rights of the child, including the child's emotional well-being. Their primary role is to consider what is the best interest of the child while not being bound by emotions that typically accompany a contentious divorce case that include a custody dispute.
What a Minor's Counsel Does
It is important to note that minor's counsel is only tasked with representing the child in a divorce and child custody case or juvenile dependency case. If there are multiple children involved in the case, separate counsel may be appointed for each child. The minor's counsel is responsible for gathering information from the child through interviews. The minor's counsel can also speak to the parents, therapists, and the child's doctors. In addition, the minor's counsel has the right to access and evaluate educational and medical records, psychological evaluations, and any other record that provides relevant information pertaining to the specific needs of the child.
When a minor's counsel is assigned to a child, the attorney can continue representing the minor until they reach the age of 18. In some instances, the court may choose to end the appointment before the minor reaches the age of majority.
Minor's Counsel Vested with the Responsibility of Protecting the Rights of the Child
A minor's counsel is generally entrusted with protecting the rights of the child and take actions in that would be in the child's best interests. Some of the recognized rights that a minor's counsel must respect and protect include:
- Seeking relief on behalf of the minor
- Maintaining confidentiality in their discussions
- Accessing and reviewing all court filings and documents
- Filing court records and responding on behalf of the minor to the court
- Presenting the child's wishes to the court
- Making recommendations to the court that are in the best interests of the child
Have Questions About the Role of Minor's Counsel in a California Child Custody Case? Contact Michael Geller Today
If you are embroiled in a child custody dispute and have questions concerning the role of minor's counsel, take action and contact Michael Geller, an experienced and respected child custody lawyer in San Francisco. If you are hesitant about retaining the services of a San Francisco child custody attorney, The Geller Firm understands. There are an array of misconceptions about attorneys and the practice of law, particularly in the field of family law. The Geller Firm is ready and able to dispel those misconceptions and advocate for your interests. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation. During the consultation, you will get the opportunity to speak directly to an attorney about your situation and have important questions answered. The consultation is focused on learning more about you and your specific legal matter. If it makes sense to move forward with representation, you will be empowered to make that decision.