Carolyn Diacos understands how difficult divorce can be for every family member, especially children. Ending a marriage is hardly ever an easy process. When issues such as child support or child custody come into question, it is not uncommon for children to be thrust in the middle of an argument between parents. This can emotionally traumatize a child. Because of these reasons and many others, Carolyn Diacos decided to meet specific educational requirements in order to act as minor’s counsel in child custody and visitation litigation over the weekend.
What Is Minor’s Counsel?
Minor’s counsel is an attorney who acts as a neutral voice on behalf of a child or children. Children under the age of 14 are frequently not given a voice in court, but their best interests and well-being are explored by minor’s counsel. When a minor is received counsel, that attorney is only able to represent the child and is charged with representation of the child’s best interests.
Minor’s counsel must gather evidence that bears on the best interest of the child and present the evidence to the court. If the child desires, minor’s counsel should present the child’s wishes to the court. However, it is up to the judge to follow the child’s requests or not. An attorney designated to be minor’s counsel can be appointed by the Court or upon Stipulation.
When Minor’s Counsel May Be Necessary
Minor’s counsel is not necessary in every custody or visitation dispute. The Court may appoint minor’s counsel when children are negatively impacted by emotional or physical neglect, high-tension, depression or factors made worse by the parents’ breakup. The Court may appoint minor’s counsel when one parent is alienating the child from the other parent. The appointment of minor’s counsel may also be helpful when one parent is supportive of the child’s needs while the other parent has ideas about the child’s needs that are not in the child’s best interest.
Special Rights of Minor’s Counsel
Once appointed, minor’s counsel has special rights and responsibilities that are set forth in the California Family Code and California Rules of Court. Some of the rights of minor’s counsel are the following:
- 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;
- Notice of any proceeding, and all phases of that proceeding, including a request for examination affecting the child; and
- The right to assert or waive any privilege on behalf of the child.
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 counsel believes is in the best interest of the child.
If you have further questions regarding child custody or the appointment of minor’s counsel, please contact Diacos Law, at (805) 535-4227.