More than likely, this is your first time going through a child custody hearing. If so, the court may appoint your child with an advocate attorney in certain circumstances. If this happens in your case, it can be helpful if you know what they do.
When a Child Advocate Attorney Is Needed
The role of a child advocate attorney is to protect your child's rights in your child custody case. Courts will appoint your child an advocate attorney in the following circumstances:
- Abuse or neglect of a minor
- Contested child custody
- Termination of parental rights
- Juvenile court proceedings
If your child needs a child advocate attorney, either the court will appoint them one, or you can hire a private attorney to represent them.
Role of the Child Advocate Attorney
In most cases, the child advocate attorney will be trained to represent minors, or they have taken courses in juvenile and family law issues. Attorneys have the option to be certified through the National Association of Counsel for Children. Before they can become certified, they must have been practicing law for three or more years, spent 30 percent or more of the past three years practicing law in the field of child welfare, and completed 3 hours or more of legal education in child welfare law.
Responsibilities of the Child Advocate Attorney
Some of the responsibilities of your child's advocate attorney include:
- Making recommendations to the court
- Collecting child support payments
- Presenting the wishes of your child to the court
- Presenting any evidence that supports their position
- Requesting hearings
- Receiving all court documents
- Obtaining needed records in regards to the parents and child
- Participating in all court negotiations and proceedings
- Conducting any needed investigations
The child advocate attorney may have other responsibilities, depending on your particular case.
During court proceedings, the advocate attorney will coordinate resources and community agencies to provide treatment programs or assistance if your child is in need of alcohol or drug abuse, or other type of counseling. The attorney will investigate any circumstances that may lead to criminal charges against your child, and make recommendations to the court regarding the suitable disposition.
The attorney may also represent children that have special needs concerning treatment and services by their school to make sure they receive the appropriate education. They may also counsel the parents and child about available resources and understanding their legal rights.
You should make sure the child advocate attorney is qualified if you are using a court appointed one. Make sure they have experience in the things listed above so they can better help your child. (for information on a custody lawyer, contact Hitchings L Timothy or another practitioner)