Minor’s counsel

In contested matters involving child custody and visitation, the court has the ability to appoint an attorney to represent a minor child. Family Code section 3150 et seq. A parent cannot hire a Minor’s Counsel, but can request that the court do so. There are many reasons why a court might appoint Minor’s Counsel, including without limitation to obtain and present information regarding an older child’s preferences, to assist in investigation of the case, or to gather present facts and argument regarding the child’s best interests. Minor’s Counsel are attorneys, not custody evaluators; unlike evaluators, they do not give expert opinions and cannot be cross-examined.

Minor’s Counsel represent only the children, and cannot represent any other party in the case. Their communications with the children are confidential and covered by attorney-client privilege. Minor’s Counsel are entitled to access the child’s medical, educational, counseling and other records without jeopardizing the confidentiality of those records. They can interview the child’s teachers, doctors and therapists. They can seek relief on the child’s behalf, conduct formal and informal discovery, and participate in court hearings.

The court also determines who pays for Minor’s Counsel. If the parents or litigants lack the ability to pay, the court may order the County to pay some or all of the Minor’s Counsel fees.

We can discuss with you whether the appointment of Minor’s Counsel is indicated in your particular matter.

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